PUTRAJAYA — More than 200 Orang Asli of the Temiar community from Kelantan met Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday and came away assured the prime minister will help resolve a problem associated with their customary land.
The residents of 17 settlements in Gua Musang had travelled in five buses to seek Dr Mahathir’s intervention to solve the problem of their ancestral land being encroached by several companies, namely for durian farming, since Feb 18, so much so that they had to erect barricades to keep away the intruders.
Five spokesmen for the Orang Asli handed a memorandum and explained their problem to Dr Mahathir. Among them were Jaringan Kampung Wilayah Tanah Adat Pos Simpor chairman Nur Mohd Shafiq Dendi Abdullah and Association for the Protection of the Natural Heritage of Malaysia (Peka) president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil.
Nur Mohd Shafiq Dendi said Dr Mahathir had asked where the Orang Asli who had come to visit him were and when told they were outside the Perdana Putra building, he decided to meet them.
Dr Mahathir said he sympathised with the plight of the Orang Asli who had to erect barricades to prevent their land from being encroached.
“I listened to their problem. The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government sympathises with them and is prepared to help find a solution to the issue. I can only say that I will help them by negotiating with the Kelantan PAS government because land comes under the jurisdiction of the state government,” he told reporters after meeting the 220 Orang Asli.
Dr Mahathir said the government would also look into the issue from a legal standpoint to come up with the best immediate solution to the issue that has plagued the community for a long time.
“The positive sign is that Tun is really concerned and we can bank on the prime minister to help resolve the issue immediately,” said Nur Mohd Shafiq Dendi.
Shariffa Sabrina said the spirit displayed by Dr Mahathir to meet the Orang Asli boosted their confidence that the issue could be resolved.
The activist who strongly condemns illegal logging added she is confident Dr Mahathir understood issues raised by the Orang Asli.