KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 ― A group in support of the indigenous people, who have been defending a forest reserve in Gua Musang from logging activity for over two months now, has called on Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob to visit the area to find out its exact situation.
Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM) chairman Tijah Yok Chopil said Ahmad should have firsthand experience in viewing the results of logging activities in the area and the reason why locals were putting up blockades to prevent further deforestation at the forest reserve.
"The blockades are set up because the forest is on the verge of being destroyed...[and besides] it is proven that the effects of extensive logging has caused a massive flood in Kelantan in 2014, resulting in destroying of properties of the Orang Asli community and the people of Kelantan.
"Is the Kelantan government still refusing to accept this fact? Is money from logging activity more important than the plight of the people?" Tijah said in a statement.
The activist said JKOASM was disappointed with the state government in exploiting the powers of the authorities in attempting to break down the blockade and huts erected by the Orang Asli community in Simpang Petai and Cawas.
"Intimidation through the use of vulgarity by the police, General Operations Force and Forestry Department is very rude as the people here are only trying to defend the area without any weapon and violence," she added.
Tijah condemned the act of the authorities in doing so and urged the state to stop issuing logging licences that would encroach into the areas of the Orang Asli vicinity.
Yesterday, the forestry department picked up 41 Orang Asli for allegedly blocking authorities from coming in the area.
National news agency Bernama cited Kelantan police chief Datuk Dr Ab Rahman Ismail saying that those nabbed were not under arrest but only detained so their statements could be recorded.
Bernama reported last month that over 200 Orang Asli had put up a blockade at the Balah Forest Reserve in Gua Musang since September 26 to prevent logs from being taken out from the area in their protest against logging.
Earlier this month, Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob reportedly told the protesters to stop the blockade or face legal action.
The state government reportedly issued a directive on October 3 to halt logging in the Balah Forest Reserve.