Orang Asli set up blockades as loggers return

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PETALING JAYA: Two Orang Asli communities have blocked the entrances to their villages as loggers attempt to resume their activities following the relaxation of the movement control order.

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Amino Angah, a spokesman for the residents of Kampung Kelaik in Gua Musang, told FMT parts of the land had already been cleared to make a road.

He said there was no standoff and no one was harmed when villagers told a bulldozer driver to leave.

But he added that the blockade, made of wood and bamboo, might not hold.

“Our crops are considered ruined,” he said. “We had rubber trees, durian and rambutan trees and a sweet potato and banana farm.

“Our water catchment area could have been affected too if we had allowed the land clearing for a few more days.”

Villagers lodged a report at the Gua Musang police station yesterday.

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The report said the village had been “pawned away“ by the Kelantan government and the company concerned should not have dispatched bulldozers although it might have legitimate permits.

On Monday, loggers equipped with bulldozers arrived at Kampung Sungai Papan in Gerik seeking to prepare the road to their concession area.

Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) coordinator Colin Nicholas said no logging activities had begun in the area and the villagers were supposed to meet representatives of the company involved.

Nicholas told FMT he believed the company was trying to “buy out” the villagers. “No standoffs yet,” he said. “Try all the soft means first. That’s what they always do.”

In a Facebook posting, COAC said it appeared that the halt to logging activities in the area which the Perak menteri besar ordered last year was only a “temporary reprieve” for the community.

“Looks like it is back to the old normal for the Orang Asli,” said the post.

The villagers of Kampung Sungai Papan have also made a police report.

-FMT

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