KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah-based Barisan Nasional component party will launch five divisions in Perak today. The United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun and Murut Organisation (Upko) is spreading it wings to help provide a voice for the Orang Asli community there.
Upko president and Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok is expected to launch the five pro-tem divisions in Tapah, where he is attending the Perak Orang Asli Land Development Convention.
Upko supreme council member Albert Bingkasan said yesterday the Orang Asli of the Semai group had expressed their interests in joining the party for the past two years.
“The community wanted a vehicle in the country’s political mainstream and it appears they are attracted to our struggles in the party, which is focused on the indigenous communities.
“Many of them being Christians and indigenous also find it hard to expand, politically, with other BN parties which have different priorities for the communities they represent,” Bingkasan said.
Under Upko’s Constitution, membership is open to all Malaysians who subscribe to the party’s struggles, he added.
The party opened a division in Shah Alam, Selangor, two years ago where most of its members are from Sabah.
Upko, which has 44 divisions, is merging the divisions into 25 in line with the number of parliamentary seats in the state.
Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia president Adrian Lasimbang said estabishment of the branches would be a positive political development for the Orang Asli community.
“Presently in Parliament, the Orang Asli has only one representative, Senator Osman Bujang. They also do not have any political party to represent them.”
Lasimbang said in Peninsular Malaysia, there were more than 100,000 Orang Asli people from 18 groups, with the majority being the Semai community.