Perak MB ‘not pressured’ by Orang Asli land demands

In February, villagers in Kampung Tasik Cunex, Perak, set up a blockade to prevent lorries from ferrying felled timber.

TAPAH: Perak Menteri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu said he is not feeling pressured by the Orang Asli community’s demand for the state government to approve customary rights over 12,456 hectares of forest.

He said the customary land covered the Air Chepam Forest Reserve in Hulu Perak, Piah Forest Reserve (Kuala Kangsar) and Government Land in Mukim Kenering, Hulu Perak District.

He said although the state government had been very lenient when it came to taking action against a handful of Orang Asli villagers who had occupied the land illegally, it must be firm in enforcing the law.

“This is not a cowboy country, we have laws. So if there are people freely encroaching on government land without regard to law provisions, we need to take appropriate action.

“The government must be fair to everyone. Regardless who they are, we have to take action (against those illegally encroaching on the land) but we will not demolish the Orang Asli houses immediately.

“Instead we will find a way to overcome this problem,” he told reporters after officiating a Wesak Day celebration organised by Temoh Buddhist Association here today.

He was commenting on a news report that the state government was willing to consider the demands by the Orang Asli community to approve 12,400 hectares of customary forest reserve land in Hulu Perak, Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Siput.

Recently, an Orang Asli representative, Apam Yik urged the government to recognise the community’s rights over 12,000 hectares of customary land.

Elaborating further, Faizal said the customary land which the community had claimed, was indeed the property of their ancestors and a large area was required for the Orang Asli people to carry out their farming and hunting activities.