SHAH ALAM, Feb 26 — The Orang Asli community who live in the area surrounding the forest reserve, Hutan Simpan Kuala Langat Utara, today conveyed to the Selangor government, six letters of protest against the proposed degazetting of the forest, and urged the government to reconsider such a move.
The protest letters were submitted by several representatives of the community to Borhan Aman Shah, the political secretary of the Selangor Menteri Besar, at the state secretariat building here.
Prior to the submission of the protest letters, nearly 250 individuals of the Orang Asli community, comprising various tribes from 12 villages in the vicinity of the forest reserve, had travelled to Shah Alam on eight buses and then alighted to walk a two-kilometre stretch towards the secretariat building, in a show of support.
Rahman Pahat, the representative of the Orang Asli, said the community very much hoped Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari would reconsider the proposed degazetting, as the forest was a bequest from their ancestors.
“According to history, the Orang Asli settled a long time ago in the forest, about several hundred years ago. If the forest is degazetted, the identity and source of our livelihood will be destroyed.\
“There are some Orang Asli still living in the forest because it is from there that we get our herbs and various other forest produce,” he told reporters here today.
Meanwhile, Borhan said the state government was always open to receiving various points of view from any party in connection with the proposed degazetting.
He said the protest from the Orang Asli community would be raised at the state executive council meeting, for further consideration.
Last Thursday, Amirudin had said that the proposed degazetting of the forest had materialised because 40 per cent of the forest no longer featured elements of a virgin forest, among other factors.
Nevertheless, the Menteri Besar said the proposal was still in its early stages, and the public and relevant communities could submit their views or protests to the state Forestry Department before March 5. — Bernama