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Monday, October 31, 2016

'Forestry's entry ban choking Gua Musang Orang Asli'

The Foresty Department strict permit requirement to enter the Balah Forest Reserve area in Gua Musang is hampering the local Orang Asli's efforts to earn a livelihood, a resident said.
Mustafa Along, 29 Forestry checkpoint, put up a fortnight ago following the Orang Asli blockade against logging, makes it difficult for the natives to sell banana and rubber produce, Bernama reported.
"It also makes it difficult for us to buy food supplies, as before this a sundry goods seller would enter the settlement three times a week to sell our daily requirements," he told reporters at the Orang Asli blockade in Kampung Petei, Pos Bering.
This has forced residents to ration their food since not many have access to vehicles to leave the settlement to purchase sundry goods.
"The town of Gua Muasang is far, at least three hours by motorcycle on a good day. It takes five hours when it rains," he said.
Many items are also too big to carry on a motorcycle, he said.
As such, he hopes the Forestry Department would provide leniency and allow traders selling food items to enter the settlement, which has 787 residents.
On Oct 3, the Kelantan government issued instruction to halt any logging in the Balah Forest Reserve after about 200 Orang Asli set up a blockade starting Sept 26.
The local say the logging is affecting the environment, depleting their source of livelihood and destroy the graves of their ancestors.
Kelantan Forestry Department director Zahari Ibrahim said Orang Asli residents are free to enter the Balah Forest Reserve but others need a permit from the department.
Earlier, activist lawyer Siti Kassim was also barred from entering the Balah Forest Reserve when she tried to send supplier to the blockaders, some of whom are her clients.
Those participating in the blockade told Malaysiakini a "letter" circulating on social media also "defames" them by claiming they received food, medicine, alcohol and cash payment to put up the blockade.
Loggers here are licensed by the Kelantan government, but they face opposition from the Temiars who consider the area their ancestral land.

Logging takes place in other areas such as the Ulu Sat forest reserve in Machang, but the Temiar are among the most active in resisting the loggers, and with valid reasons.
Malaysiakini's checks in Rondong, Pos Gob, part of the Kuala Balah forest reserve some 12 hours from Gua Musang, revealed possible breach of Forestry Department rules.
There was logging being carried out within 50m of Sungai Poyan.
This would also be in violation of the stipulations under the Environmental Impact Assessment report.- Mkini

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