250 Orang Asli protest against degazetting of Kuala Langat forest reserve

The Orang Asli protesting against the proposed degazetting of the Hutan Simpan Kuala Langat Utara forest reserve.

SHAH ALAM: The Orang Asli community who live in the area surrounding the Hutan Simpan Kuala Langat Utara forest reserve today conveyed six letters of protest to the Selangor government.

They said they were against the proposed degazetting of the forest and urged the government to reconsider such a move.

The protest letters were submitted by several representatives of the community to Borhan Aman Shah, the political secretary of the Selangor menteri besar, at the state secretariat building here.

The 250 individuals of the Orang Asli community, comprising various tribes from 12 villages in the vicinity of the forest reserve, had travelled to Shah Alam in eight buses.

They alighted and walked a 2km stretch towards the secretariat building.

Rahman Pahat, the representative of the Orang Asli, said the community very much hoped Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari would reconsider the proposed degazetting as the forest was a bequest from their ancestors.

“According to history, the Orang Asli settled a long time ago in the forest, about several hundred years ago.

“If the forest is degazetted, our identity and source of our livelihood will be destroyed.

“There are some Orang Asli still living in the forest because it is from there that we get our herbs and various other forest produce,” he told reporters here today.

Meanwhile, Borhan said the state government was always open to receiving various points of view from any party in connection with the proposed degazetting.

He said the protest from the Orang Asli community would be raised at the state executive council meeting, for further consideration.

Last Thursday, Amirudin had said that the proposed degazetting of the forest had materialised because 40% of the forest no longer had elements of a virgin forest, among other factors.

Nevertheless, the menteri besar said the proposal was still in its early stages, and the public and relevant communities could submit their views or protests to the state Forestry Department before March 5.