C4: Stop bulldozing Orang Asli rights, respect court verdict

Cynthia-Gabriel-_asli12

PETALING JAYA: The Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) has called into question the Kelantan government’s understanding of a recent court verdict that the Orang Asli are rightful owners of their land.

Condemning the state forestry department’s move yesterday morning to break down blockades set up by the native occupants in the interiors of Gua Musang, and arresting 5 Orang Asli leaders, C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel accused state authorities of being confused over what the court ruling meant.

“Wasn’t it just last week that the courts ruled clearly that the Orang Asli are the rightful occupiers of the land their blockades are set up on, and thus have control of the area?

“Are the forestry department and the State authorities confused or are they just blatantly pretending that nothing has changed and its business as usual despite the verdict last week?” she asked in a statement released today.

Gabriel was referring to the rejection of a logging company’s bid to dismantle the anti-logging blockade set up by the Orang Asli, which in turn signifies a crucial recognition on ownership of land in the state of Kelantan.

“C4 urges the Kelantan government to recognise that the Orang Asli are the rightful owners of the land and that they have full rights to occupy the land.

“Stop the yo-yo on the land ownership issue, gazette the ancestral land of the Temiar people and stop issuing permits to the logging company in destroying what’s left of the forest,” she said.

Gabriel also called for federal and state governments to commit to reviewing current laws to recognise the land entitlement in accordance with recent court judgments.

“The Orang Asli are the original people of the land and must be recognised as such.

“We also urge (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) Suhakam to play an urgent role to facilitate this process, aiming for amicable solutions and the best outcomes to overcome this problem once and for all,” she said.

Yesterday, the Kelantan forestry department destroyed a blockade and arrested five of the Orang Asli manning it at Simpang Petei, Gua Musang.

A Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia spokesperson told FMT in an email that 30 officers from the department entered the scene and demolished the blockade at 11.30am.

Motorcycles belonging to the Orang Asli were also seized.