Remand of Orang Asli men leaves families in limbo

orang-asliPETALING JAYA: An Orang Asli association has accused the Gua Musang Magistrate’s Court of lacking empathy for the families of the Orang Asli men arrested yesterday, by issuing a remand for as many as three days.

“The Orang Asli families in Gua Musang depend on their husbands and fathers to survive, so you can’t just throw these men in a lock-up for a few days,” Persatuan Pembangunan Orang Asli Malaysia (Moada) president Bob Manolan Mohamad said.

He added that the police had also confiscated many of the motorcycles used by the Orang Asli in the area.

“At the very least, if they have the motorcycles, then they can go and get food from the shops, but now they’re stuck there.”

Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) coordinator Colin Nicholas said the Orang Asli in Gua Musang had always depended on the forests for their sustenance and that was why they were involved in a logging blockade in September.

“Because of their high regard for the land, they need to defend it. The logging activities would have affected their livelihood and sustenance,” he said.

The first 17 Orang Asli arrested were remanded for two days, while the other 31 were remanded for three days.

Bob claimed that the police had to make two trips due to the large number of Orang Asli arrested.

“After they had arrested the first 17, there were still protests. So they came back and arrested 31 more,” Bob said.

When asked, Bob rejected the notion that police would check in on the families to make sure they were doing all right.

“The police will never do that. The most these families can depend on now are their relatives,” he said.