Federal govt to help Kelantan with orang asli land issue

KOTA BARU: The federal government will help Kelantan to expedite the gazetting of orang asli land reserve in the state where there is currently a blockade standoff between members of the Temiar tribe and a plantation company.

Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister R. Sivarasa said both federal and the state governments shared the same policy in resolving the long-standing dispute involving native customary land by using previous court decisions as guidelines, including the Pos Belatim case.

Sivarasa said the Kelantan government had taken the right step by using previous court decisions as a guideline to earmark the proposed orang asli reserve land.

“The Kelantan government has already started gazetting the orang asli reserve land in stages,” said Sivarasa after meeting Deputy Mentri Besar Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah here yesterday.

Sivarasa said the federal government would help the state government via the Kelantan Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa).

Mohd Amar said it had so far gazetted 1,500ha of orang asli reserve land, involving seven villages in northern Kelantan.

“But I must stress that Kelantan does not acknowledge native customary land.

“That term is only relevant to Sabah and Sarawak.

“However, we acknowledge the existence of orang asli settlements and we do not allow any encroachment there,” he said.

Mohd Amar said Jakoa should also be more active in explaining to the orang asli community the measures taken by the authorities to avoid prolonged misunderstanding.

“The orang asli claim that Jakoa did not discuss with them before identifying plots of land for gazetting,” said Mohd Amar.

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