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FEATURE All is not peaceful in the woods and forests of Kelantan. An "uprising" of sorts is in the works after years of simmering disquiet over rampant logging that threaten the livelihood and culture of the local Orang Asli.
This was conveyed to me by one of the natives, who hosted me during my recent trip into the hills of Gua Musang. He is an Orang Asli from the Temiar tribe, who is personally involved in the timber blockades set up to stop loggers from encroaching into their customary land.
My host served a simple but delicious meal for lunch on the day of my visit. This is symbolic of the hospitable nature of the local Orang Asli, as well as a stark reminder of what they stand to lose if the forest around them continue to be cut down, uprooting them from their way of life and source of sustenance.
There was roasted tapioca, fish, jackfruit, and more, with a helping of rice and sweet tea to wash it all down. His cat meowed incessantly and miserably from the adjacent room – begging to be let out to join the feast.
However, the mood around the floor (there was no table) was sombre, as my host Anga Anja, 42, pondered over whether his two grandchildren would be able to cook such a bountiful meal in the future.
Anga hails from the Temiar village of Kampung Barong, Gua Musang, and the land around him is threatened by deforestation. And the worry and anger over how this may impact their future, has stirred up the normally docile Orang Asli.
“We have awakened,” he said. “We have awakened and we are sad. How are our grandchildren supposed to live in the future?
“I could pass away at any time, but how are our grandchildren supposed to live after us? That’s why we have awakened...