IPOH: A group of Orang Asli from Jalong Tinggi in Sungai Siput are urging the state Forestry Department to instruct a company to cease logging activities there.
The group’s spokesman Mat Seri Pandak said the logging activities over the past six months had not only caused pollution to Sungai Korbu, their main water source, but had also affected their livelihood.
He said some 2,000 people from the 10 villages there lived in fear of a landslide or mudslide, especially during the rainy season.
“Our only hope now is for the department to stop the remaining logging process.
“Many of us are unable to go into the forest to look for our daily products such as petai and rotan, and we have been relying on a non-governmental organisation to provide food, ” Pandak said after a meeting with a representative from the department at the office here on Thursday (Feb 13).
Accompanying the Orang Asli group was Parti Sosialis Malaysia chairman Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj.
In October, the same group handed over RM15,000 to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission claiming that the money was given to them by a logging company.
At the time, Pandak said two villagers from the community called for a meeting with them and told them that they had met with a department officer and the owner of the company.
During the meeting, they were given RM40,000 to be distributed among the villagers.
Dr Jeyakumar said the department representative told them that the Tok Batin (orang asli village head) of the community, who was at the meeting, agreed with the company continuing logging activities.
“The representative told us that all works were done according to procedure.
“However, the people there are suffering, and the majority of them don’t agree with the project, ” he added.
Mat Seri said the Tok Batin’s approval for the project did not mean that all of them agreed with him.
“He (Tok Batin) refuses to listen to us and becomes aggressive as well.
“But the department’s representative told us that issue is between the Tok Batin and his villagers, because, according to procedure, they are required to speak to the community leader.
“That should not be the way. Our approval is equally important, and all villagers should be consulted first before any project on our customary land, ” he added.
Pandak said the conclusion of the meeting was for the representative to speak with the department’s director, and that they would get a written reply on the matter.
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