Govt urged to review National Forestry (Amendment) Bill 2022

TANJUNG MALIM: The government is urged to review the National Forestry (Amendment) Bill 2022 which does not allow Orang Asli living in permanent forest reserves to take out forest produce for commercial purposes.

Activist Ramesh Arumugam Chettiar, who is also the founder of the Orang Asli Development Cooperative, said the government needed to establish a special committee to study the Bill.

"Please set up a special committee and refine this proposal. I hope this committee will be chaired by a minister who knows about the Orang Asli.

"Don't marginalise the Orang Asli who earn RM20 to RM30 a day and sometimes once a week. With the money, they buy rice to continue their livelihood. Don't take away their rights as indigenous people," he said when met by reporters at Kampung Pos Tibang, Ulu Slim here today.

Some of the Orang Asli residents from the village in Ulu Slim who were met also requested that the government review the Bill for the sake of their survival.

A resident of Kampung Pos Tibang, Han Jeng Chupak said the Orang Asli community needed to make a living by collecting forest produce, and they had been practising it for a long time.

"We Orang Asli are really struggling and we urge the government not to do this to us. Such things make our lives difficult, we need to eat," she said.

Former tok batin Gah Rai, who is also a resident of Kampung Kesau, said he hoped the government would take action so that the community could continue selling rattan, bamboo and various other forest products from the Orang Asli village.

"I hope the ministers will consider this matter. Where else can we find food, we only source items from the forest," he said.

The National Forestry (Amendment) Bill 2022 was passed in the Dewan Negara on Aug 8 after being approved in the Dewan Rakyat on July 18.

In general, the amendment to the National Forestry Act 1984 (Act 313) this time aimed to tighten excision regulations of permanent reserve forest lands as well as strengthen forest enforcement to combat the activities of taking forest produce without permission.

It also aims to increase the rate of fines and punishments and additional penalties to curb forest offences that damage the environment, besides overcoming the issue of ambiguity and unclear powers and improving the schedules in the act to strengthen forest management and enforcement. - BERNAMA

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