KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 ― The Pakatan Harapan leadership called for the immediate release today of 41 Orang Asli detained over a blockade in Gua Musang, Kelantan.
The leaders of PKR, Amanah and DAP urged the authorities and the Orang Asli involved to head back to the negotiation table to find a peaceful “win-win” solution to their dispute, which has drawn attention from international rights groups over the rights of Malaysia’s indigenous people.
“We would like to ask, has the negotiation process reached a conclusion, since such an action was taken against the Orang Asli?” the Opposition leaders said in a joint statement that bore the names of PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, her Amanah counterpart Mohamad Sabu and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.
The trio pointed out that the Orang Asli deserve fair treatment as they are the rightful natives.
They noted too that those detained were from the Temiar tribe.
They added that the natives had long protested to the Kelantan state government, through democratic means, against the widespread logging activities that stripped the rainforests that was their home and source of income, but were allegedly ignored.
The Kelantan Forestry Department took 41 Orang Asli into their custody yesterday, after their tribe set up a two-month-old blockade into forests in Gua Musang in an attempt to prevent further logging activities.
Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob later denied that his PAS-led administration was involved in the Orang Asli’s arrests.
State news agency 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.