By Shahrullizan Rusli
KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 (Bernama) -- Land exploitation, especially those carried out illegally around the Main Range near Gombak, Selangor and Bentong, Pahang, is increasingly threatening the livelihood of the Orang Asli community there.
The exploitation which leads to the destruction of the forest in the areas concerned are greatly affecting the settlers of Kampung Sungai Relang, an Orang Asli settlement located about 10km from the
From a settlement that used to accommodate scores of families, the population of the Orang Asli community from the Temuan tribe living there had declined to only five families as a result of the reckless exploitation and encroachment of the land there.
The settlement which is equipped with a kindergarten is now quiet with many empty houses.
Village Tok Batin, Mail Aweh, 60, said most of his people had to move out. The younger groups migrated to the urban centres while the rest either moved to the Batu 12 Orang Asli Settlement, Gombak or settlements which are much further in the interior of the
"Since the forest exploitation became more intense, our sources of staple food and income including scented wood, rattan, wild fruits and fish in the village and villages near Bentong have been declining.
"We feel very sad over the attitude of outsiders who are totally unsympathetic with regard to the Orang Asli community. Most of us feel that there is no longer any future for us here, so we have to migrate elsewhere," said Mail who used to look for the "Tongkat Ali" roots or the "Bunga Pakma" to be sold to traditional medicine practitioners.
He was also complaining about the lack of efforts by the authorities to attract his people who had migrated to come back to the settlement.
"Not only has our forest been illegally exploited, our request for electricity supply and other amenities are also not entertained...the reason given is the cost of providing such amenities is too high, whereas our settlement is located less than one kilometre from the Karak Highway," Mail said.
However, he conceded that part of the durian orchard there had been sold by the settlers to outsiders several years ago.
Mail claimed that among those who exploited the jungles there were the buyers of the durian orchard.
Jungle felling by these outsiders had destroyed the catchment area to the extent that the streams which had been their source of water supply and fish for ages had now disappeared or had become nothing more than a drain.
He also claimed that he had reported the illegal forest exploitation there to the Department of Orang Asli Affairs on several occasions but "no action had been taken until now".
Meanwhile, the Forest Department at Bukit Tinggi and the Bentong District Office declined to comment on the illegal exploitation of the forest there.