GERIK: A group of orang asli from the Pos Kemar indigenous settlement in Perak wants the state government to put a stop to the logging in their jungle area.
They said the logging activity, which was halted for seven months from last December following protests, had resumed.
One of them, rubber tapper Mohd Affendi Along, 42, said the orang asli had been forced to make do with murky water from the river.
“Heavy logging that caused silting has led to the river becoming shallower and water turning murkier, especially during the rainy season.
“Logging has been going on since 2012 and making it harder for us to rely on the jungle and river for our livelihood.
“What's worse, many of our ancestors’ graves have also been destroyed. We have had enough. We want the new state government to stop the destruction of our ancestral land,” Affendi, from Kampung Katong, said yesterday.
On June 9 last year, The Star highlighted the orang asli’s plight and their threat of a blockade if the logging was not halted.
“We lodged a written complaint with the previous state government in 2016 and 2017, met with the MP and state assemblyman concerned.
“They came for a meeting with us, but never looked at the logging site,” said Affendi, who said the orang asli were relieved when the logging stopped in December.
Kampung Ralak village head Abu Bakar Aluej said his area was the worst hit, followed by Kampung Katong.
Both areas are located close to Sg Jumheng.
“We could drink the water. But constant logging changed everything years ago,” he lamented.
Another Kampung Ralak villager, Kamal Abain, 35, said he was angry because the orang asli were being kept in the dark over what was going on.
“The authorities care nothing about what we are going through. Aren’t we human beings?”
Kampung Ralak, located about 35km south-east of Gerik, is one of an estimated 15 villages comprising 5,000 orang asli, mostly of the Temiar tribe, within the sprawling Pos Kemar indigenous settlement.
Most orang asli rely on the jungle for their livelihood. Plants and tree barks are used, among others, to make medicine, food, clothing and building material.