Monday, October 3, 2016

The Temiars Defend their Land


The barricade along the 70km stretch at Kampung Bering and Pos Pasik in Kelantan. Image credit: Webpage

The Temiar community first attracted the country’s attention in August last year when seven orang asli students fled into the forest to escape punishment for swimming in a river without permission. The entire community mounted a search for them.
Some 45 days later, two of them were found by search and rescue personnel and brought out to safety, but the others didn’t make it.
Now, interest in their well-being has been rekindled with the staging of a blockade to stop loggers from transporting logs out of what they claim is their ancestral land.
Since last week, about 200 villagers mounted the blockade, resulting in a deadlock between both parties.
“We have given up being nice and getting pushed around all the time. This time, we will make our stand, stick together and are prepared for the worse,” said the group’s spokesperson Limit Lias. He said they named the blockade area “Kampung Blockade”, situated about 70km from here, in the Balah forest reserve.
Men and women were seen mingling around, treating the new “village” as their home. A special makeshift booth was erected for visitors to sign in before entering. The villagers kept a close watch on all strangers, even pressmen, with some getting ready to take pictures and videos of outsiders.
About 10km from the blockade site lies a log collection area. One of the community leaders, Azmi Badol, claimed they had stopped three lorries laden with logs from leaving the area.
“It will be good if the menteri besar visited our area to see the devastation for himself. We can no longer tolerate this", Azmi said. They would only negotiate with the Kelantan state government, he insisted.
He is demanding a stop-work order. And he said all of them are prepared to be arrested by the police. At least 2,000 villagers live in Pos Gob, Pos Simpor and Pos Pasik, and the majority of them eke out a living from the forest.

Limit said lorries with logs would not be allowed out of the blockade site but loggers could move out their heavy machineries.

“We are serious about this and will monitor the situation from morning to night,” he said, adding that they were prepared to eat just ubi kayu (cassava) to protect the site”.

Limit added: “We have nothing to fear. We… are here to protect our rights in a peaceful manner”.

This evening, I was at the KL Advanced Toastmasters meeting. It is a public holiday today but nine Toastmasters and four guests still made a beeline for Café Barbera at No. 18, Lorong Maarof in Bangsar, KL.

I presented a CC #4 speech titled "Dancing in the Rain".  And I was also the Grammarian.


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