Source: (2004) Paper presented at "New Frontiers in Restorative Justice: Advancing Theory and Practice", Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University at Albany, New Zealand, 2-5 December.

The World Wide Fund for Nature described indigenous people as the earth's most focal stewards. There are 300 million indigenous people in the world and approximately 100,000 in Malaysia. The term 'Indigenous people' is contentious and guaranteeing their rights is a thorny issue. They live a distinctive lifestyle, a tradition, which involves a vivid history. In today's epoch, they live with a certain amount of expectation from the government of the day. Expectation is deeply embedded in their blood in relation to their rights to land matters. They have a special relationship with their land, imbued with spirituality and sacredness. It forms a footing for social, economic, cultural structure and system. They often perceive it as something irretrievably transmitted to them through birthright. But, the ultra modern humanity has been a major threat to their rights. When land is appropriated it affects their traditional subsistence, land management and medicinal practices. In some instances they were encouraged to dump their nomadic life and progress to modern life. In Malaysia, the governing legislation is the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954. Its provisions, applicability, effect and operation would be analysed together with the current restorative justice measures as to whether the existing framework are a panacea for land grievances of the indigenous people. An analysis would be made as to type of restorative justice models that may be adopted to deal with their grievances. A study is also carried out as to the viability of international restorative justice measures or system to deal with their grievances. Nevertheless, the perplexing issue is, should restorative justice measures be looked from the eye of the indigenous people or the spectacle of the government. There must be a plea for radical changes in laws and policies protecting aboriginal people. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University, http://justpeace.massey.ac.nz.