It's 'un-Islamic' for PAS govt to favour musang king planters, say orang asli defending their jungle homes

GUA MUSANG: It would be very un-Islamic if the Kelantan PAS government uses a memorandum submitted by ten orang asli village chiefs to justify the demolition of blockades protecting native customary jungle land from musang king durian planters, said community leaders.

On Thursday (Aug 16), the ten submitted a controversial memo urging the Kelantan government to remove the blockades, allocate land for orang asli to carry out agricultural activities, and take stern action against individuals who are allegedly "instigating" the orang asli to "attack" the durian plantation operators.

However, Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Kelantan (Jaringan) president Mustafa Along said the ten village chiefs were actually political appointees under the government's payroll.

Moreover, the ten village chiefs were not even locals living in the affected areas in Pos Simpor and Pos Gob.

"Among those who are not locals, who had sent the memorandum, are Pos Tohoi village chief Zainal Chali, who did not have his ancestral graves in the vicinity of Pos Simpor," said Mustafa.

Another one of the ten is Pos Bihai village chief Awin Bedik, who has been actually living in another state, at Pos Piah in Sungai Siput, Perak, over the last decade.

Two other village chiefs are from Kuala Betis, which is in an area not affected by the current dispute.

"Therefore, how can a memorandum submitted by such village chiefs, who have no locus standi (legal standing), be used to represent the voice of the local community who are mostly against activities that bring about destruction of the forest?" asked Mustafa.

He added that it was ironic that the village chiefs wrote a memo in favour of plantation operators against the orang asli trying to defend their traditional jungle homes.

Kelantan Mentri Besar Ahmad Yakob confirmed receiving the controversial memo on Thursday morning, and that they would look into meeting the demands.

Ahmad said they were also gathering information to take action against the alleged "instigators", as requested by the ten village chiefs.

Mustafa clarified, "The majority of our orang asli community are certainly not fighting for individual title deeds.

"We need the jungle and the entire ecosystem to keep our customs and tradition alive," he said.

"If the Kelantan Government truly upholds Islam, they would not undermine the interest of the majority by using a memorandum submitted by questionable characters to justify their action in the interest of a plantation company," he said.

Meanwhile Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil chided a group of vandals for demolishing the Kaleeg blockade in Pos Tohoi for the second time within weeks.

The vandals came in five four-wheel drives to destroy the blockade on Friday (Aug 17).

The incident occurred when Aida Ross, the wife of Water, Land, and Natural Resources Deputy Minister Tengku Zulpuri Shah bin Raja Puji was present together with Peka members to deliver food for the orang asli.

The vandals returned again on Saturday (Aug 18), bringing a tractor.

Sabrina said the Kelantan Government appeared to favour the plantation company, thus compromising the humanitarian rights of the orang asli.

"It is so embarrassing for a so-called Islamist government to behave like this," she said.

Peka also noted that the ten village chiefs who had endorsed the controversial memorandum were board members of Koperasi Kijang Mas, which is allegedly business "connected".

Jaringan Youth chief Nur Mohd Syafiq Dendi Abdullah said they have lost confidence in the ten village chiefs who had betrayed the orang asli.

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