Perak MB: Use of word ‘encroach’ not meant to offend Orang Asli

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu speaks to reporters at the State Secretariat Building in Ipoh May 29, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu speaks to reporters at the State Secretariat Building in Ipoh May 29, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib

IPOH, MAY 29 — Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said today that the word “encroach” in his official statement was meant to refer to a situation and not meant to describe the Orang Asli as claimed by an activist group.

Ahmad Faizal said just like in any other profession, government officials also have their own terms to refer to a situation or matter.

“When a land, which indeed belongs to state and has been encroached, then the term we use to describe the situation is ‘encroached’.

“But this should not be used as a reason to define us as a cruel government,” he told reporters after distributing Hari Raya goodies to uniformed personnel at the State Secretariat Building here.    

On May 16, the Mentri Besar’s Office issued a media statement on the Kampung Orang Asli Tasik Cunex, Gerik blockade issue.

The statement read that a group of 26 Orang Asli families, which includes 74 males and 42 females, had moved out from the Dala Resettlement Program in early 2017 and encroached into the Air Cepam Forest Reserve, which belong to the state, after a misunderstanding with the Kampung Sungai Sarok village chief.

Yesterday, Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia chairman Tijah Yok Chopil said the community was taken aback by “rude” statements made by Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders, citing Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu as an example.

Tijah also said that the Orang Asli situation is still the same as, if not worse than the previous administration.

Ahmad Faizal said the PH government has been very lenient with the Orang Asli community, despite some of them having opened up new villages in the permanent forest reserve, which belongs to the government.

“Did we arrest them, or take legal action? Are their houses being demolished? Or they don’t have a shelter to stay? Is that what is happening?

“The government is actually trying to help the people by solving their problems regardless of their racial backgrounds,” he said.  

“So labeling us cruel for just using the word encroach...I can’t understand it,” he added.  

Ahmad Faizal also hopes that people who are talking about the issue would understand the real situation and not judge the government because of its use of the word ‘encroach’.

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