BENTONG: MCA will help a group of affected durian farmers in Raub here approach the Pahang state government for a discussion to resolve the matter amicably, says Datuk Chong Sin Woon.
The party secretary-general met with five of the farmers' representatives and said they were all level-headed and eager to work out a solution with the state government.
“They told me their concerns and requests. Next, we will liaise with the party headquarters and work on bringing forward the farmers’ voices to the state government.
“As a start, we ask the state government to have a direct discussion with the farmers as soon as possible,” he said after the meeting here Thursday (July 8).
Chong noted that MCA has been concerned about the issue.
“Since the beginning, we have believed that we must not lose any channel for discussion.
“To solve any kind of conflict or problem, we believe the best way is to get back to the discussion table.
“Being confrontational will only worsen the situation,” he said, adding that angry exchanges would only confuse the matter further.
Chong said it was best to have a direct discussion between the state government and the affected farmers.
As the issue of illegal farming has been around for a while, he said both the state government and farmers should sit down and talk, especially after the recent incident where 18 farmers were remanded for trying to block enforcement officers' vehicles from going in and out of the operation area and preventing personnel from carrying out their duties.
“We hope to see a peaceable solution where both parties need not be at loggerheads.
“The most important thing is that we sit down and iron things out calmly because all parties will have their own standpoint.
“The state government sees the farms as illegal based on their ownership right to the land, while the farmers see it as theirs based on their hard work on the farms throughout the years.
“There will be differences. It is best to leave out sentiment and emotions and go back to the discussion table,” he added.
“Let us first establish communications with the state government to put forward the farmers’ views, with the next course of action to be determined later.
“I know they have had a discussion before but let’s see how to resolve the current conflict. We don’t want to make things racial or emotional. Let’s calm down and discuss.
“We hope the state government will allow for a discussion,” he added.
Pahang MCA state liaison chairman Datuk Seri Hoh Khai Mun said MCA would not interfere with the ongoing lawsuit involving some farmers.
“What we want is a solution to the current situation. We also thank our party secretary-general for his concern, coming here personally to meet the farmers,” he said.
On Sunday (July 4), the Pahang Forestry Department 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.
On Monday (July 5), the Raub Magistrate’s Court granted the remand of 18 Musang King durian farmers while Tras assemblyman Chow Yu Hui was also detained but released under police bail.
They were detained after alleged acts of provocation against Pahang Forestry Department personnel during an enforcement operation at Batu Talam forest reserve in Raub.
Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail said on the same day that the enforcement operation against illegal plantations in Raub was carried out after obtaining the legal opinion from the office of the state legal adviser.
He said the joint action involving the state Forestry Department and the Pahang State Enforcement Unit, with the cooperation of the police, began on July 3 and is expected to continue until Aug 2.
The enforcement operation involves illegal orchards including those where Musang King durian trees have been planted in the Batu Talam permanent forest reserve, covering an area of about 101.17ha.