KOTA BHARU – The integrated enforcement operation to remove the logging blockades at a number of locations in the Balah, Perias and Gunung Stong permanent forest reserves was conducted in accordance with the law.
Kelantan Forestry Department director, Zahari Ibrahim said the erecting of sheds and logging blockades was an offence under Section 32 of the Kelantan Forestry Enactment 1984, by entering and occupying a forest reserve area without permission.
Besides that, he said, the department’s officers and staff were prevented from entering the areas involved, hence disrupting its responsibility and tasks of forest rehabilitation, management, monitoring and enforcement in these areas.
“(The blockades) also prevented the taking out of legitimate forest produce including several logs kept in Matau before the order to stop the logging operations came in October,” he said in a statement, on Friday.
Zahari said this had also caused the timber logs to depreciate in value, thus reducing revenue and they (the Orang Asli group) had also prevented the workers of the licensed logging operators to enter the areas involved.
He said before the dismantling was conducted, the state government had used several approaches including holding briefing and clarification sessions, hearing the Orang Asli’s demands and objections, and holding discussions with the respective mukim (sub-district) penghulu who were appointed after the first blockade was erected on March 27, this year in Pos Gob.
However, he said, more blockades were set up at the logging track entry points, namely in the Matau area at Compartment 260, Perias permanent forest reserve, Compartment 27, and Gunung Stong Selatan forest.
“During the negotiation process, the state government took the drastic action of suspending the forest output operations in the areas involved to enable a thorough study and review, and improvements be carried out,” he said.
He said Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob had stated that 973 hectares of land in Pos Gob had been approved as Orang Asli reserve land, but this was still in the process of being gazetted and the area had been marked in the department’s plan.
Zahari said 15,000 hectares of permanent forest reserves classified as protected forests were also allowed to become areas for foraging for daily food by the Orang Asli, and further discussions on the matter between the Orang Asli involved and the state government should be through JAKOA.
Meanwhile, he also expressed regret over representatives of certain non-governmental organisations supporting the Orang Asli’s blockade action although it was against the law, while claiming to be legal practitioners.
On Tuesday, 47 Orang Asli who had set up logging blockades at Simpang Petei and the entry road to Pos Bihai were detained by police after they refused to budge from the areas during an operation conducted by the state Forestry Department.
The operation to remove the blockades had to be carried out after the negotiation between the state government and Orang Asli reached a deadlock, believed to be due to interference by third parties. – BERNAMA