BENTONG: MCA will help a group of affected durian farmers in Raub here to approach the Pahang state government for an amicable resolution to resolve the matter, says Datuk Chong Sin Woon.
The party secretary-general, who met with five representatives of the farmers, said the group was level-headed and eager to work out a solution with the state government.
“The five farmers told me about 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 seek a direct discussion between the state government and farmers as soon as possible,” he said after the meeting here yesterday.
Chong said MCA had been concerned about the issue.
“From the beginning we knew we must not lose any channel for discussion. To solve any kinds of conflict or problem, the best way is to get back to the discussion table.
“Confrontation will only aggravate the matter, making it hard to resolve the issue,” he said.
Chong noted that the issue of illegal farming had been around for some time and had come to the fore after 18 farmers were remanded for trying to block the enforcement department’s vehicles from going in and out of the operation area and prevent personnel from carrying out their duties.
“There will be differences. The state government will see the farms as illegal based on its ownership right to the land, while the farmers view these as their hard work throughout the years.
“The most important thing is to sit down and iron things out calmly because all parties have their own points,” he added.
Asked what the farmers’ requests were, Chong said it was best not to divulge just yet before any engagement took place with the Pahang government.
“Let us first establish a communication channel with the state government to put forward the farmers’ views before deciding on the next course of action.
“I know they have had a discussion before but let’s see how we can resolve this conflict. We don’t want to make things racial or emotional.
“We hope the state government is open to 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 and coming down here to meet the farmers,” he said.
On July 4, the Pahang Forestry Department detained 18 people suspected of being illegal farmers and entering the permanent forest reserve area without permission.
The next day, the Raub Magistrate’s Court granted the order to remand 18 Musang King durian farmers while Tras assemblyman Chow Yu Hui was also detained but released on police bail.
They were detained after alleged acts of provocation against the department staff during an enforcement operation in the 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 legal advice was obtained 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 was expected to continue until Aug 2.
The enforcement operation involved illegal orchards including those that have Musang King durian trees planted in the Batu Talam permanent forest reserve, covering 101.17ha.
The department had 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 the court order granted to a group of durian planters who had initiated legal action last year.