Given the gravity of the situation, the villagers of Kampung Kaloi are understandably driven to put an end to the destruction of their environment.
One of these champions is Jimi s/o Angah, 48, who is also Along’s brother-in-law. He has been actively protesting against logging corporations and has submitted numerous memoranda to the Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA) and the state government.
Among the issues highlighted in the memoranda are how government officials discount the opinions of Orang Asli village elders even when discussing matters involving their own villages.
Jimi claimed that the government officials only listen to Orang Asli representatives who are appointed by JAKOA or are on good terms with them, postulating that that was why the memoranda sent to them were not acknowledged.
These issues have caused a long-standing dispute among the former villagers of Kampung Kuala Wok. Some supported government and JAKOA initiatives, viewing these as necessary in the name of development while others saw them as causes for irreparable environmental destruction.
In fact, the move to Kaloi was in part due to the opposing views.
“Some of us who weren't happy with the way the forest land around Kuala Wok was being cleared wanted to fight against the logging companies, so we sent memoranda to JAKOA.
“However, this was interpreted as a move in opposition to JAKOA as Kuala Wok was under its administration. Some of us disagreed with the move, causing a division among the villagers and eventually leading to the rest of us to move to Kaloi,” he explained.
Jimi said their practice of harvesting forest bounty such as fruit and wood was also being scrutinised by the State Department of Forestry. It has come to a point where the villagers of Kampung Kaloi are not allowed to harvest anything from the forest as it belongs to the government.
He claimed that the state government, through JAKOA, had allocated 200 acres (81 hectares) of land for each Orang Asli settlement for agriculture, depending on the size of the village. Each family in a village would be permitted to receive up to 2.4 hectares of land near the vicinity of their home. However, being an unrecognised village, Kampung Kaloi is excluded from this privilege.
Mustafa, another son of Along, said much of the assistance from JAKOA is only given to administrative centres of Orang Asli villages in each Orang Asli region of the district.
“Villages like Kampung Kaloi or those in remote areas are often excluded from receiving assistance like farmland allocations - whether or not they are recognised by state authorities,” he told Bernama.
The National Forestry Act 1984 prohibits the harvest of any forest produce from a permanent reserved forest or state land without a licence or permit. Only the state government or authority has the authority to grant permission to harvest from the forests.
Mustafa said the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954, however, contradicts the National Forestry Act 1984, and accuses the state authorities of using laws that only benefit them. “As inhabitants of the forest, the Orang Asli have a right to harvest resources from the forest freely without having to apply for a licence or permit,” he said, referring to the provisions within the Act.
has revealed that previous federal court cases have ruled in support of the common law principle of respect to the right of the existing inhabitants under their custom, which acknowledges the use and occupation of land by the Orang Asli.