IPOH: The blockade built by orang asli at Kampung Cunex, Gerik, to prevent lorries from taking out timber was taken down without any untoward incident on Thursday (May 16).
Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said the state has taken into consideration all complaints and from the legal aspect before deciding to remove the blockade today.
"The blockade was built on state land without permission.
"The blockade was removed in the morning peacefully," he said in a statement released on the same day.
A series of photos and videos showing authorities tearing down the blockade went viral on social media.
In one of the two videos, a group of men wearing blue shirts were seen tearing down the blockade as a group of orang asli look on.
Shortly after clearing the blockade, several huge lorries and pick-up trucks were seen entering the area.
The orang asli had in February accused the state of encroaching into their customary land. They built the blockade to prevent lorries from carrying timber out of the area.
They also claimed the logging activities would pollute a nearby water catchment area.
Ahmad Faizal said the logging company had attempted to remove the blockade on April 23.
"The orang asli protested and prevented lorries from leaving the area by forming a human shield.
"The issue was then sensationalised by some non-governmental organisations, calling it an act of bullying the orang asli," he said.
"Police reports have been lodged by both the orang asli and the logging company, with investigations now ongoing," he added.
Ahmad Faizal also said the government had tried to settle the issue amicably.
He said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department P. Waytha Moorthy had, on Feb 18, visited the village to thrash out a solution with the relevant governmental department officers.
"The orang asli claimed the blockade was built on their customary land.
"We've checked and the land has not been gazetted," he said, adding that a decision on the matter had yet to be taken.
"They also said that they would only allow timber to be taken out from the logging area once the government gazetted the land," he added.
Ahmad Faizal denied the orang asli were threatened by armed enforcement personnel.
"And to avoid any confrontation with the orang asli, the loggers also tried to use an alternative route but were also stopped.
“The state will not fell trees indiscriminately and all the logging was done following the standard tagging method," he said.
“We have consistently followed the annual logging ration set by the National Land Council, which only involves 7,744ha of land annually,” he added.