Orang Asli land: Patriot applauds Putrajaya for suing Kelantan government

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Kelantan’s rich biodiversity is being destroyed and the poor bear the brunt of devastating floods caused by the wanton destruction of watershed areas due to state-sanctioned logging, poor planning and weak control of development - File photograph: Center for Orang Asli Concerns

In suing the Kelantan state government on behalf of the Temiar Orang Asli group, Putrajaya has put its right foot forward, says Mohamed Arshad Raji.

It is morally correct to protect the indigenous group against encroachment into their ancestral land by loggers and durian farmers even though the state government has granted them licence.

Attorney General Tommy Thomas reportedly said the Kelantan state government had granted logging rights in Gua Musang to private companies without consulting the Orang Asli group. Neither was any compensation offered.

Such disregard for the rights of the Orang Asli, who have used the land to sustain their livelihood, is irresponsible of the state government. It is an example of what state governments should not do even if land matters are within their jurisdiction.

The Kelantan state government should be reminded of the worst ever flood in the state in 2014, which resulted in suffering and loss of properties among the Kelantan people. The flood was a result of indiscriminate land clearings and logging activities.

In allowing for commercial interesta over Orang Asli rights, the Kelantan state government appears to have lost its moral compass. This is surprising as the state leaders are considered to be revered and pious.

Patriot fully supports Attorney General Tommy Thomas and Putrajaya in championing the rights of the Temiar Orang Asli in Kelantan.

Retired Brigadier General Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji is president of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan.

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