CAMERON HGHLANDS: Orang Asli from four villagers near here, facing the threat of losing their customary land and livelihood, have found an ally in Datuk Seri G. Palanivel.
The Natural Resources and Environment Minister has ordered the Pahang state government, including the Land Office, to put a stop to the land encroachment.
Palanivel also called on Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, who oversees the Orang Asli Affairs Department, to take immediate action against those encroaching into the land.
“We do not know who is behind this move but it must be stopped at all costs.
“Ancestral land for Orang Asli should not be encroached into,” he said in a statement yesterday, in response to the plight of the community from Kampung Pawong, Kampung Chiduk, Kampung Palas and Kampung Sungai Penuh.
It was reported that the community had called to halt a proposed agro-tourism project in their area for fear that they would lose their customary land and livelihood.
A spokesman for the community, Johan Changgang, 42, from Kampung Pawong, had reportedly said that they learned about the project in August from a signboard erected in the area and that since the middle of this month, excavators and lorries had moved into the area, opening up an access road in the process.
He had also said that although the distance from the project site to their villages was about 7km, it was where they made a living by planting fruits and vegetables.
The area was also where more than 30 of their ancestors graves were located as well as served as an important water catchment area that prevented flooding in the villages.
The New Straits Times learned that the 120ha site for the proposed agro-tourism project was part of the government’s Central Forest Spine project.
The area was an environmental sensitive area under the National Physical Plan, which prohibited any form of development from taking place.