A video showing a group of durian farmers confronting and pleading with authorities to not cut down their trees has gone viral on social media
In the almost three-minute long video, a man dressed in black can be seen shouting at the authorities, claiming that they do not have a permit to fell their trees.
"Malaysians already have no food to eat," another man screams in protest.
"We are acting on instruction," says an officer at the scene, but one of the farmers demanded an official letter as they are also following the instruction of the court.
A man adds that humans have hearts, suggesting the officers act with compassion as they are taking his livelihood away.
The caption in the video states that the video was captured at a forest reserve in Raub, Pahang yesterday, 4 July.
Photos and other videos circulated online show more than a dozen durian trees lying on a stretch of land with the fruit still attached to the branches.
The incident on Sunday is believed to be the latest conflict in the ongoing bitter land dispute between farmers and the state government.
Following the incident, 18 farmers were arrested by the police
Save Musang King Alliance (SAMKA), a group of durian farmers involved in the legal dispute, said the farmers were taken to the Raub district police headquarters for allegedly trespassing, reported Malaysiakini.
Tras assemblyperson Chow Yu Hui, who was at the scene yesterday, told authorities that the farmers had obtained a stay order by the Court of Appeal, thus allowing them to legally enter the land.
He was later arrested under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstruction of a public servant in the discharge of his functions.
However, he was released on bail at midnight today, 5 July, but the 18 farmers are still detained. The Vibes reported that the police have received a two-day remand order on them.
They are being investigated under Section 47 of the Forestry Act for entering a "closed forest" without authorisation.
SAMKA said authorities cut down about 200 trees belonging to three farmers on Sunday
However, China Press reported Pahang Forestry Department director Mohd Hizamri Yasin as saying that his personnel did not encroach into the area that was given a stay order by the appellate court as they were merely clearing durian trees planted at the forest reserve.
He stressed that the cleared area was not on the land that is in dispute between the durian farmers and Royal Pahang Durian Resources-PKPP Sdn Bhd (RPDR-PKPP).
In a statement today, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said that his party will offer legal assistance to the 18 farmers detained.
The heart of the matter began March last year when the Pahang government signed a joint venture with a company said to be linked to Pahang royalty, establishing RPDR-PKPP
According to Malay Mail, farmers have been cultivating the king of fruit at the location for over a decade.
They tried to apply for the land titles through the proper channels for many years, but were repeatedly rejected by the state government. They were told to vacate their plantations in July last year.
A month later, RPDR-PKPP put forward a legalisation scheme to allow farmers to continue cultivating durians at the land but they had to pay a 'rent' of RM6,000 per acre for the year and an additional levy of up to RM20,000 per acre based on the durians produced.
In January this year, the Court of Appeal granted the farmers a stay against their eviction, reported Free Malaysia Today.
The court ruled that the authorities are not allowed to evict or prevent the farmers from entering their orchards.