Malaysia: Johor waterfront project destroys mangroves, encroaches on orang asli village

Mohd Farhaan Shah The Star 6 Oct 11;

JOHOR BARU: A waterfront development project by the Straits of Johor in Senibong, near Permas Jaya, is encroaching into Kampung Teluk Jawa, which houses more than 100 orang asli families.

Most of them are traditional fishermen who depend on the sea and river.

But after the development started creeping into their area, the villagers can no longer go out to fish because the mangroves along the river banks have been destroyed.

Fisherman Del Jatun, 52, lamented that ketam bangkang (mud crabs), fish and prawns no longer breed in the mangrove area as their natural habitat had been destroyed.

“Ever since the developer began clearing up the area, the water has turned murky and the marine life has dwindled,” he said.

Their daily income has been reduced from RM100 before the project started to about RM50 now, he added.

Village head Rosti Bintik, 44, said the village elders were worried about the young people, who could no longer fish and had to do jobs like collecting cans and plastic bottles for recycling.

Permas public complaints centre supervisor Syed Othman Syed Abdullah said the developer and the relevant authorities must work out a solution for the orang asli.

“The developer had one meeting with them last year but there has been no follow-up action to solve the issue,” he said.

A spokesman for the company involved in the project, who declined to be named, said compensation amounting to RM200,000 was paid last year to the affected orang asli through the state Fisheries Department.

He said the company should not be solely blamed because pollution along the river banks was also caused by factories in the area.