KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 ― Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob has denied that the Kelantan state government was involved in the arrest of Orang Asli at a two-month-old blockade in Gua Musang, Kelantan.
The PAS deputy spiritual leader told The Star Online that Kelantan had left matters to the authorities, and asked the public not to interfere with the case.
"The government had left the matter of the Orang Asli who had built the barricades along logging roads to stop logs from coming out from the areas to the authorities to handle,” Ahmad was reported saying.
"The arrests of the Orang Asli should be left to the wisdom of the authorities and no party should get involved until the investigation is completed.”
Ahmad also said the blockade was illegal and accused the community of slowing down development, according to the report.
Earlier this month, Ahmad reportedly told the protesters to stop the blockade or risk facing legal action.
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, had earlier called on Ahmad 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.
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.
The state government reportedly issued a directive on October 3 to halt logging in the Balah Forest Reserve.