DAP has offered to provide legal assistance to the 18 durian farmers in Raub, Pahang, who were detained by police yesterday for allegedly trespassing on land they had been cultivating for decades.
The farmers had tried to harvest their produce yesterday but were stopped by police and forestry department officials.
The incident was the latest in an ongoing battle between the farmers and the state government over the land.
Tras assemblyman Chow Yu Hui, who accompanied the farmers to the land yesterday, was also detained under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a public servant in the discharge of his functions but was released early this morning.
“Chow was released after midnight, but 18 durian farmers are still being detained. DAP will be offering legal assistance to those detained,” said DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng in a statement.
“This is an issue of livelihood for the durian farmers who have been farming there for decades and the Pahang government should try to resolve the problem amicably between the large private company and farmers.”
The Pahang government has accused the farmers of illegal farming and wants to evict them as the state has leased the land to a durian cultivation firm.
However, the farmers say they have a right to enter the land as the Court of Appeal granted them a stay against their eviction in January. The court ruled that the authorities are not allowed to evict or prevent the farmers from entering their orchards.
Lim said that as the farmers have obtained the order from the Court of Appeal, the state government should “respect the inherent intent and principle” of the stay of action and not proceed with any action until the court rules otherwise.
Save Musang King Alliance (Samka), a group of durian farmers involved in the legal dispute, also claimed authorities have cleared some durian trees on the land.
“They started to cut down the trees today (Sunday). They cut down about 200 trees belonging to three farmers,” Samka president Wilson Chang was quoted as saying in Malaysiakini.
However, China Press quoted Pahang forestry department director Mohd Hizamri Yasin as saying that the cleared area did not involve land that is in dispute. – FMT