Media Release: Federal Government must act to protect Orang Asli in Kelantan

Kelantan Government has failed to protect the rights of the Orang Asli Community, Federal Government must Intervene

21 February 2018 Press Release

The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center) calls upon the Kelantan State Government to immediately put a stop to logging activities in the Gua Musang area.

The Orang Aslis are our treasures of civilization, reminding us of how once our ancestors lived and survived in the jungle. Today, their existence and way of life is under a serious threat, especially in Kelantan, due to the state government’s short cuts to revenues, and lack of clarity on their legal status.

The Kelantan Government has total disregard to the rights of the Orang Asli community living in the state forest and have for many years ill-treated them. Their rights are not respected, their land is robbed for profits, their culture and heritage are being destroyed. Despite them being the indigenous community of Malaysia, they are treated like aliens on their own land.

C4 center has constantly expressed concern on the serious deforestation of the forests in Kelantan. In 2015, held a fact finding mission to investigate the massive floods that had hit the state that year causing hundreds of millions in damages and the lives of 21 people. The report released showed damning evidence that massive logging have indeed contributed to the devastating floods.

Among the recommendations in the report were to improve the management of forests, map and gazette Orang Asli land and go fully transparent on how concessions are awarded and which logging companies are given licenses to log. The public seem to be in the dark over how these concessions are being awarded, what is the process of application, how much the state earns from these concessions and what is the selection criteria process. This only gives rise to possible corruption and abuse of power.

In 2016, we also met with various high level officers including the Deputy Chief Minister of Kelantan YB Mohd Amar Abdullah, Director of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Office in Kelantan, Dato Moh Samsudin Yusof and State Forestry Director Zahari Ibrahim.

3 years have passed, and it is heartbreaking to note that the Orang Asli community in Kelantan is still fighting to defend their land from encroachment.

The State government’s heavy reliance on revenues from concessions and logging is a big threat to sustainable development and the lives of the orang asli community and their forest. They seem to be lacking in ideas to gain revenues from other sources and this is an example of poor governance in the state. This must urgently change if they hope to regain a mandate from the people of Kelantan in 2018.

The state should also open for public viewing the details or mapping of the areas which has been awarded to private companies. Strict enforcement should be taken on companies that encroach further into other land and there should be a mechanism where the Orang Asli could object to related lands being awarded to private companies. The Kelantan government should also ensure that all parties respect the Court ruling which barred the loggers from entering Pos Balar. Since that ruling, we are aware that the loggers are now instead destroying the land surrounding Pos Balar, such as in Kuala Wok. If the state actually has allowed the loggers to enter into these areas, then the state is complicit in circumventing the court order.

C4 Center welcomes the call by Natural Resources and Environment Minister, Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar for parties involved to come to the negotiating table and find a long term solution to this problem. It is way time federal and state agencies look into the matter seriously. The discussion by all parties should be based on the rights of the Orang Asli to their land and for the preservation of their heritage and culture.

C4 Center will continue to monitor this issue closely and will provide whatever assistance needed to the orang Asli community in defending their right and land. C4 Center fully supports the rights of the Orang Asli and the blockade. We will also be contributing 4 sets of generators to the orang asli community manning the current blockade and we will be visiting them in the coming days to lend our support.

C4 center also stresses that we are willing to work through a solution, with both the Federal and State government. The Orang Asli community cannot be at the mercy of business interests of both the State and private entities.

Released By

Cynthia Gabriel and Sudhagaran Stanley
Executive Director and Northern Region Coordinator

In the News

Free Malaysia Today, "C4: Kelantan government has failed the Orang Asli"
The Malaysian Insight, "Kelantan govt must stop Gua Musang logging if it wants to keep mandate, says C4"
The Sun Daily, "Kelantan orders Forestry Dept to submit report after blockade"