KUALA LUMPUR - The Crisis Relief Squad MCA (CRSM) has called on the Kelantan government to explain the deforestation in Gua Musang and Kuala Betis.
Its chairman Datuk Lua Choon Hann said the CRSM team that delivered food to orang asli living there was shocked to find vast swathes of land and hills destroyed.
"The state government must enlighten us on the deforestation there.
"We want a definite answer as to whether the deforestation was legally carried out," he said at a press conference here.
Lua said the deforestation could have been among the causes of the recent severe floods.
Two days before going to the orang asli villages on Jan 13, CRSM informed Barisan Nasional secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor that the people there were stranded without food.
Following this, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said he had sent the army to clear the roads and a helicopter to bring food to the villagers.
Lua said the forest destruction had damaged the environment and badly affected the livelihood of the orang asli.
"We want a committee to be set up to investigate the deforestation," he said, adding that CRSM also wanted development to prioritise orang asli livelihood.
Recalling the relief mission, Lau said that upon receiving news that more than 2,000 orang asli villagers were stranded in Gua Musang and Kuala Betis, CRSM dispatched 12 members in five four-wheel-drive vehicles carrying six tonnes of food.
He said the journey was challenging due to landslides and fallen trees that made the roads inaccessible.
"What was supposed to be a two to three-hour journey took us seven hours.
"We had no choice but to set up a second station and the orang asli had to walk 10 hours out of their villages," he said.
Lau said other voluntary groups had also delivered food to the orang asli.