Malaysiakini News

Police: Only court order can bring down Orang Asli barricades

Published:  |  Modified:

Gua Musang police have reportedly said they will not be responsible for any confrontations between the Orang Asli and activists, loggers and Forestry Department enforcement officers over logging in a permanent forest reserve.

The Star Online today quoted Gua Musang district police chief Rajab Ahad Ismail as saying that the loggers should get a court order to force the Orang Asli to bring down their barricades.

Rajab also said nobody can force the Orang Asli to dismantle the barricades, and since they have refused to back down, an ultimatum to do so can only be executed by force.

"The Forestry Department has not informed me of its latest action. I am personally monitoring this issue that can explode at anytime if the parties refuse to sit down and talk.

"I am wondering what the department will do if the Orang Asli refuse to back down," he is quoted as saying.

The only option for the loggers, he said, would be to get a court order to force the Orang Asli to end the blockade.

On Nov 6, the Kelantan Forestry Department issued a 14-day notice to the Orang Asal, telling them that they have until Nov 20 to dismantle their blockades at Pos Petei and Pos Pasik.

Failure to do so could cause them to be fined RM50,000 or jailed for five years for obstructing access to a forest reserve.

Commenting further, Rajab said enforcement officers will face a fierce opposition "because the Orang Asli are only protecting what they believe is their right".

He added: "Threats and force will never solve any dispute and I advise all parties to sit and negotiate."

Starting from one blockade site at Pos Tohoi, the anti-logging barricades have now expanded to four more sites at Pos Simpor, Pos Gob, Pos Pasik and Pos Petei, which have led to about 1,600 tonnes of logged timber being prevented from being shipped out and sold.

The Orang Asli have also vowed to resist the loggers until kingdom come.

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