GERIK: The blockade that was built by the Orang Asli community in Kampung Cunex to protect the area which they claimed to be their ancestral land from being destroyed by logging activities, is allegedly masterminded by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including from outside Perak.
Kampung Sarok assistant head Daud Samsuddin, 30, said Kampung Cunex was actually built by the fragments of Sarok residents who left the village due to religious misunderstandings in 2017.
The group then allegedly trespassed and opened a new settlement in the Air Cepam forest reserve area about 5km from the Dala Resettlement Plan which housed 1,358 residents in seven villages namely Kampung Melela 1 and 2, Kampung Sungai Tengah, Kampung Bukit Nangka, Kampung Sungai Urat, Kampung Sungai Untong and Kampung Sungai Sarok.
“It is only recently that the issue of customary land has come up, when they left, they did not bring up any issue about land. It is believed that this is being masterminded by NGOs especially from outside Perak,“ Daud said when met here recently.
According to Daud, some NGOs came to Kampung Sarok in March asking the residents to fight for their customary land.
“Some of the NGO people said we the Orang Asli needed to support them (in fight for customary land) because Kampung Sarok and the entire Orang Asli community have the right, but I don’t want to get involved.
“They asked me if I wanted the logging activities to destroy our area, I replied that this is the state government’s project and don’t want obstruct,“ he said.
David said the residents of Kampung Sarok had never obstructed any action taken by the state government including logging activities.
Asked if logging activities at the Air Cepam forest reserve were causing river pollution and affecting people’s income, Daud denied it and said villagers only wanted the best for them.
Meanwhile, media practitioners failed to enter Kampung Cunex because of the blockade.
Since February, the media has been reporting about the blockade as the protest against logging activities is allegedly affecting their source of income, causing pollution to the water catchment area and destroying the graves of their ancestors.
In addition, residents of Kampung Cunex demanded the state government to recognise 12,465 hectares of land in the Hulu Perak, Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Siput as ancestral land.
However, on July 29, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said that there is no such thing as “tanah adat” or ancestral land for Orang Asli under the state constitution.
He said the state government had gazetted nearly 14,000ha of land for 70 Orang Asli settlements statewide under the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954.
Ahmad Faizal said the state government had initiated the process to gazette an additional 5,176ha of land for another 27 Orang Asli settlements, which the biggest area gazetted by any state in Peninsular Malaysia.
On Aug 1, Ahmad Faizal had ordered a temporary halt to all logging activities near the Orang Asli settlement in Kampung Cunex with immediate effect.
The order was issued after Ahmad Faizal held a meeting with Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator P. Waytha Moorthy and Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, to discuss the issue related to Kampung Cunex.
Ahmad Faizal and Waytha Moorthy in a joint statement said the federal and state governments were committed to achieving a fair and just solution to protect the interests of the Orang Asli community in the area. — Bernama