No such thing as customary land here, says Kelantan govt

Orang Asli residents in Pos Tohoi, Gua Musang, put up a banner demanding recognition of customary land during a visit by deputy rural minister R Sivarasa on Aug 2. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Kelantan state government is the absolute owner of lands claimed by the Orang Asli in Gua Musang, says PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan, after representatives of the community petitioned the federal government to help them fight developers who intrude into their settlements.

“In Kelantan, customary land for Orang Asli does not exist. It is not found in the state land laws and it has never been gazetted as such,” he told reporters today.

The Kota Bharu MP also accused non-governmental organisations of inciting the Orang Asli in Kelantan by laying claim to the lands in their efforts to stop the activities of logging companies.

“The forestry department has allowed logging activities but some Orang Asli are backed by several NGOs and are blocking logging companies, when the lands belongs to the state,” he said.

Yesterday, some 200 Orang Asli residents from 17 settlements in Gua Musang met Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to seek help in finding a solution over the issue of encroachment by logging and agricultural firms.

The residents had erected barricades to keep away the intruders.

The prime minister expressed sympathy with their plight, adding that Putrajaya would negotiate with the authorities in Kelantan to find a solution.

Takiyuddin said the Kelantan government was prepared to discuss the issue with the federal government.

He said although state laws made no mention of customary land, the authorities had gazetted several areas for the Orang Asli community, allowing them to carry out farming and agriculture.

“The state government would never allow companies to carry out logging in these areas, which have been classified as Orang Asli settlements,” he added.