Orang Asli don’t need state’s permission to protect their land, says NGO

The Orang Asli have every right to build a blockade to protect their land and should be allowed to do it without permission from the state, says an environmental activist. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: An environmental NGO has lashed out at the Perak government for demolishing an Orang Asli blockade on state land at the Kampung Tasik Cunex Orang Asli settlement.

Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil, who is president of Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka), said the Orang Asli had every right to build a blockade to protect their land and should be allowed to do it without permission from the state.

“We know that the forest and the village belong to them traditionally; it is their livelihood. In the first place, we are talking about massive logging going on which will lead to natural disasters if we let it happen continuously.”

Saying the Orang Asli had made the blockade to prevent such a danger and to protect their livelihood, she asked: “Is it wrong?”

She was commenting on Perak Menteri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu’s decision to allow enforcement officers to remove the blockade which he said had been built without permission.

The blockade at the Kampung Tasik Cunex Orang Asli settlement in Gerik, Perak, was demolished on Thursday by the state government.

Faizal said it was done after considering all complaints, as well as the legal aspects.

Sabrina urged Faizal not to look merely at developing the state without taking the environmental factor into account. “We want development too but there is a way, not through this ‘short-cut’ of gaining money.”

She said Faizal should not use his power as the menteri besar to allow logging just because it was profitable but should consider the livelihood of the Orang Asli living there for generations.

She advised Faizal to look far ahead instead of being a “short-sighted person”, adding that he should think of other ways of boosting the state’s economy.

“There are many ways, not only through logging but they can try ecotourism or nature tourism. The Orang Asli have their rights and although Faizal said he is following the law, is it a win-win situation for both sides?”