IPOH, March 5 — The Orang Asli community from eight villages in Simpang Pulai here are appealing to the state government to call off an agro farming and tourism project which they say will affect their livelihood.
The affected villages are Kampung Chiduk, Jantung Baru, Pawong, Sungai Penuh, Palas, Kampung Yess, Pos Atap and Kampung Jelmol Bekeroh.
Kampung Jantung Baru villager Mohd Firdaus Balih, 30, said the site of the project, estimated at about 1,000 hectare, is the place where villagers look for food.
“There are fruit trees and wild animals. If the project continues, where will we find food?” he asked.
Speaking to reporters during a protest by villagers at the site today, Mohd Firdaus said the future generation of Orang Asli are also at stake.
Kampung Yess villager Anjang Alang, 45, said the state did not consult the villagers before starting the project.
“We grew up in this village. What will happen to us if the state-sanctioned project goes through?” he asked.
Azlan Loh of Kampung Chiduk said the villagers are poor people and are dependent on produce from the forest for their livelihood.
“All of us are against the project and we want all works to be stopped immediately,” said the 28-year-old, inviting Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir to visit the villages himself to see if the community is telling the truth.
Sabahat Alam Malaysia (SAM) field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman, who was also present, said the project was approved in 2013 following the degazettement of the site.
“The site is under the Central Forest Spine at Titiwangsa Range which is a wildlife corridor,” he said.
He added that the project was on the upstream and Orang Asli villages at the downstream would surely be affected.
Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam president Hafizuddin Nasarudin said there to be an attempt to create another Cameron Highlands in Perak.
“The project would involve the massive use of pesticides that will be washed into rivers during rain. Orang Asli who depend on rivers will be the ones who will be affected,” he said.
President of Grup Alam Sekitar (GRASS) Malaysia, Muhammad Yusaimi Md Yusof, said there was a similar project in Lenggong where authorities cleared land there to plant tea leaves years ago.
“The project had since died with empty land left behind. Instead of clearing a new virgin area, the state should consider having its agro farming and tourism project in Lenggong,” he said.