KOTA KINABALU: The Murut Cultural Centre was filled with over 700 Orang Asal in colourful traditional costumes from all over Malaysia as they gather for the four-day World’s Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations in Tenom, near here, starting today.
Since 1994, the United Nations’ International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (PHOAS) has been observed on Aug 9 annually to promote the protection of
the rights of the world’s indigenous peoples.
The celebration, officiated by Sabah Murut Association (SMA) vice president Senator Datuk Dr. Lucas Umbul, was followed by cultural performances, traditional games competition, a youth jamboree and sale of traditional food and crafts.
“The PHOAS theme for Malaysia, ‘Uplifting Indigenous Peoples Customary Institution’ is chosen because customary institutions have long maintained distinct social, economic and political systems of indigenous peoples, which is crucial for our identity and harmonious existence,” said General of the Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS) secretary Mary Giun, in a statement here today.
She said the customary law guaranteed the sustainable use of land in a way that was beneficial to Orang Asal as well as the environment.
This grassroot celebration was organised annually by JOAS since 2008 with each region, Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia taking turns as host, she said.
She said this year’s event was possible with the collaboration of local village host organisations that spent the last four months preparing to welcome fellow Orang Asal and visitors.-Bernama