KUALA LUMPUR, Sep 16 — PAS vice-president Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah said the Kelantan state government tried several times to explain the Orang Asli issues within the state, despite “unreasonable” demands.
He said that many either did not read or follow up on the explanation by the state government, including those he had personally spoken to in his capacity as Kelantan deputy mentri besar.
“The problem is the demands made by a minority of Orang Asli who have been incited to do so by several networks.
“These networks, consisting of those from outside Kelantan, have been persuading them to claim for customary land (tanah adat) rights,” Amar said in his closing speech during PAS’ 64th Muktamar.
He said unlike Sabah and Sarawak, the peninsula has no concept of customary lands, which is why the claims are not applicable in Kelantan.
“But we respect the rights of the Orang Asli, and have gazetted four plots of land 1,000 acres each, per the advice of the Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA)
“This set-aside land meant for Orang Asli to cultivate cannot be intruded upon. Even companies with logging licences are not permitted to encroach upon these areas,” Amar said.
Although he acknowledged it would take the state government some time to fully gazette the areas, Amar said it is only a matter of time.
“Yet, the networks seem not to recognise JAKOA and reject its authority. Despite offering them several chances to meet up with us (and discuss), many of their demands make no sense.
“One example is demanding that 50 acres of land be given to each Orang Asli family. That amounts to as much as 200,000 acres. Were we to do that, then an area the size of Gua Musang would be finished,” he said.
Amar said the networks are rejected by 90 per cent of the Orang Asli chieftains, who distrusted outsiders coming into Kelantan and incited others to set up blockades.