KUANTAN: The Pahang Forestry Department's operation against illegal durian plantations in Raub has faced a situation of provocation by farmers.
The department said among the actions these "illegal farmers" took was to create obstacles to block the department's vehicles from going in and out of the operation area and prevent personnel from carrying out their duties.
"For today (July 4) alone, the department has detained a total of 18 people suspected of being illegal farmers for entering the permanent forest reserve area without permission and for making extreme provocations to the department's personnel.
"All 18 people have been detained at the Raub district police headquarters for remand and will be further investigated and action taken under the provisions of the National Forestry Act," the department said in a statement.
"This operation is focused on destroying all durian crops that have been planted illegally by the growers and in addition, personnel will be arresting any individual or growers who enter the permanent forest reserve area without permission and seize any goods and vehicles brought for any purpose into the area," it said.
The state Forestry Department explained that the joint operation with state government agencies was being undertaken to destroy illegal durian farms concentrated around the Batu Talam permanent forest reserve.
It said the operation area was outside the jurisdiction of a court order granted to a group of durian planters who initiated a legal action last year.
The department also said several police reports had been lodged and video recordings submitted to the police for follow-up action.
"The department's investigating officers will carry out further investigations to ensure that all of these illegal farmers are subjected to appropriate legal action," it said.
On Sunday (July 4), Tras assemblyman Chow Yu Hui was detained by police in the middle of an operation against illegal plantations in Raub.
However, the DAP assemblyman confirmed that he had been released on bail early Monday (July 5).
Chow said he was initially summoned for questioning, adding that the police arrested him at about 9pm on Sunday under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing the duties of public servants.
The Save Musang King Alliance, which Chow was advising, said the assemblyman was released on bail at around midnight but the police decided to make remand applications for 18 durian farmers detained earlier.