Orang Asli to stage blockade against logging activities

PETALING JAYA: Remember the 40 something Orang Asli Temiars who were arrested for staging a blockade against logging activities in their forest in Gua Musang, Kelantan in November 2016?

One year on, and they are ready to stage yet another blockade at the same location in Pos Simpor.

Social activist Rishiwant Singh said the group, that would be led by Kelantan Orang Asli Youth Network chairman Dendi Johari, will begin their protest on Feb 16 at 10.50am.

In a Whatsapp message forwarded by Dendi, Rishiwant said: "The Orang Asli Temiars in Gua Musang will do a protest blockade against logging due to large-scale deforestation here.

"Please help us indigenous people ensure that our plight is being heard by the relevant authorities," he said, as quoted by Dendi.

On Nov 29, 2016, some 41 protesters from the Temiar group were arrested by General Operation Forces personnel in a "military style operation", about two months after they set up a blockade, preventing the loggers from removing their logs from the forest.

State Forestry Department deputy operations director Mohd Radhie Chu Abdullah had then said that the group was detained for trespassing at a permanent forest reserve.

When contacted, Rishiwant said since the mass arrest in late 2016, logging activities had become more rampant in the area, forcing the Temiars to retaliate once again.

"They (Orang Asli) said it is becoming worse, they are literally cutting the whole jungle down. Their livelihood are all affected, and the Forestry Department is not even protecting the jungle!

"Which is why the only action that can be taken by the Orang Asli is to stand up," he told theSun.

Rishiwant, who is also the United Sikhs humanitarian aid director, said he would be present for the blockade on Feb 16 in support of the group, as well as to send food to them.