Orang asli opposed to proposed dams

PETALING JAYA: The building of two flood mitigation dams in Kelantan as planned in the 11th Malaysia Plan will destroy orang asli villages, said a community leader.

Kelantan Orang Asli Village Committee youth chief Dendi Johari said the dams, to be built in Sungai Nenggiri and Sungai Lebir, would affect several villagers of the Temiar and Batek tribes.

Among the villages are Kampung Pos Pulat, Kampung Wias, Kampung Pos Tehoi and Kampung Kuala Wook.

"We are saddened to hear as this will destroy our houses, our history, our grave sites and the jungle where our source of livelihood and income is.

"We totally object to the building of the dams," he said, adding that the villagers were not consulted on the project.

Besides, the waters in Kelantan are not suitable for dam building because the water flow is too fast, he said.

He said they were not anti-development but any development project that affects orang asli villagers must include their input.

"The Government and corporations should adhere to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People's guidelines whenever any project affecting them was initiated," he said.

Dendi said that from past experience, promises were made by various parties for compensation when they gave up their land but often, they were not fulfilled.