Restrictions causing difficulties for Orang Asli in Kelantan

JABATAN-PERHUTANAN-NEGERI-KELANTAN

GUA MUSANG: The Orang Asli community at the Balah Forest Reserve (HSK) in Gua Musang claim they face difficulties in getting food supplies following restrictions imposed by the Kelantan Forestry Department (JPNK).

The restriction also made it harder for them to sell crops such as bananas as well as latex after the enforcement of the restrictions two weeks ago.

A representative, Mustafa Along, 29, said the problem began after JPNK conducted checks on every individual entering and exiting the area.

“Previously, it was easier to get food supplies as retailers came thrice weekly to sell daily goods,” he told reporters at the logging barricade at Kampung Petei, Pos Bering.

Mustafa said residents were now forced to ration their food supplies as not many owned vehicles to go out and buy daily necessities in Gua Musang, a three- to five-hour trip, depending on the weather.

“We do no have 4WD vehicles to help us get food supplies and have to depend on motorcycles which can only carry a limited load,” he said.

He hoped JPNK would be lenient on traders who entered Balah HSK, enabling the 787 Orang Asli residents there to acquire food supplies.

On Oct 3, the Kelantan state government suspended logging at Balah HSK after more than 200 Orang Asli set-up a barricade on Sept 26, preventing timber lorries from entering and leaving Kampung Petei.

The group called for a stop to all logging activities near their settlement, alleging it had damaged the environment and resulted in forest depletion that in turn affected their livelihood.

Earlier, JPNK director Zahari Ibrahim said Orang Asli residents were free to enter HSK but others who wished to enter had to apply for a permit.