Orang asli village likely encroached

KUALA LUMPUR: The village of Bah Saluji Yeok So Alu, the orang asli who wrote a book about the exploits of a nine-year-old Semai boy named Yeok Luat and his dog Cooq Leek, is alleged to have been encroached.

As a result of the land dispute, a Semai community in Kampung Ulu Penderas, Perak, has set up a blockade since Feb 26 to stop contractors from going into the orang asli village and clear the land.

His father Yeok So Alu Piat or Bah Sali, 57, alleged that the encroachers were contractors engaged by the Perak State Agricultural Development Corporation.

“The contractors are starting to clear our holy sites, ancestral graves, hunting ground, and we, the villagers, have blocked the road to prevent them from going into our land.

“We feel that we do not have any more land to live on. We consider the area as our customary land,” the rubber tapper said in a telephone interview.

He said there were about 60 people living in the village.

Bah Sali said the villagers had made three police reports – on July 7, 2018, Feb 18 and Saturday.

In the most recent report lodged at the Slim Village police station in Tanjong Malim district, Bah Sali said after the report that he and 10 others from Kampung Orang Asli Penderas Slim Village made on Feb 18, they found five workers of a contractor carrying out clearing activities and encroaching into their customary land.

“We then nicely asked the workers to stop the tree-cutting and clearing of the forested area of our customary land,” he said in the report.

The workers agreed and before they left the area, the orang asli asked that they inform their boss about their action, it said.

The report also said that on Feb 25, a representative of the appointed contractor came to the village following the villagers’ request for a meeting but discussions failed.

The following day, on Feb 26, Bah Sali and six villagers went to the customary land and put up a blockade in the form of a wooden gate on the main road, said the report.

On Feb 28, the contractor went to Bah Sali’s house and showed a land grant of the area and informed them that the contractor’s company and another company have the right to work on the land but the villagers were still adamant in not allowing the two companies to enter and carry out their work.

The report also said they would hold the blockade as they did not get any response from the Department of Orang Asli Development (Jakoa), the district and land office, Perak state government, Behrang MPs or assemblyman even though they had submitted an official protest about the issue.

Bah Sali said his report was to inform the authorities of the Ulu Sungai Penderas orang asli’s action and plan to continue with the blockade on their customary land to protect it from being encroached.

When contacted yesterday, Tanjung Malim MP Chang Lih Kang said he was aware of the case.

“I will try and facilitate the negotiation between the (contractor’s) company and orang asli.

“I will also seek assistance from the state agency,” he said.

Later yesterday, Bah Sali said a Jakoa officer and the MP’s special officer visited the site in the morning and told the contractor to stop work pending investigation.

“The land clearing work has stopped for now but the blockade continues,” he said.