iSpeak

iSpeak; Save Perak Forests Campaign

By A. Jeyaraj

Members of civil societies are organising the Save Perak Forests campaign. The campaign started off with a Roadshow at First Garden Pasar Malam on August 30. Flyers were distributed and explanations were given on the importance of preserving our forests. An online petition to the MB to stop deforestation was carried out.

Many of the visitors were pessimistic and said the government would do what it likes and not listen to the views of the public who voted for them. Many residents said they have never participated in these types of activities. A number of residents said they are government staff or pensioners and are afraid to participate saying they would be victimised. They had to be assured that this does not happen. Regardless of these views many residents signed the petition and informed that they just came to sign the petition and give their moral support.

The second roadshow was held at the entrance to the hiking area in Kledang hill on 31 August and hikers were requested to sign the petition. The hikers were more responsive. Balakumaran who is working in a Security Company said that he has been hiking for more than 10 years. He supported the campaign and said that it is a good move to create awareness on the importance of the fauna and flora.

Roadshows are planned to be held in Buntong, Jelapang, Menglembu and other places.

Yee Shan, spokesperson for the group said that the petition campaign was started because it’s been seven months since the clearing of 10 hectares of Kledang hill and other than the stoppage on further clearing, Perak government has not taken any further action.

Replantation has not been started as promised by Perak Menteri Besar in March 2019. It is the MB who approved the change of land use for development of Kledang Hill and other forests. There has been no explanation from MB on why nothing has happened to the cleared area. There is a strong possibility of landslides since the land is barren.

We have also noticed the Perak government has zoned off 35,000 hectares of permanent forest reserves for conversion into plantation forests. Of this, 7828 hectares have already been converted and the remaining 27,172 hectares are in the process of conversion.

One of the causes of the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is due to electricity generation as well as other sources. This increase leads to rising temperatures. Forests absorb carbon dioxide and play an important role in mitigating the effects of global warming. It is said that compared to primary jungle, plantation forests are 40 times less effective.

These forest reserves are habitats for wild animals like siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus) or black-furred gibbon, Sun bear, Sumatran tiger, and tapir. Gibbons are only found in this country in Kledang Hill around the area where the forest has been cleared.

Hence, we urge the government to:

1.  Revoke all plans to convert land in Kledang Saiong and Bukit Kinta Permanent Forest Reserves and all other permanent forest reserves in Perak, into plantation forest. Primary forests are needed to absorb carbon dioxide.

2. Replant the 10 hectares of land cleared on the Bukit Kledang hillslope, and gazette it as a permanent forest reserve.

3. Formulate policy requiring the government to hold public hearings and get public and civil society endorsement for all projects involving the destruction of permanent forest reserves (as is the practice in Selangor). In fact, the public should be consulted on all major projects.

Our target is to get 10,000 signatures. You can sign this petition online here: http://chng.it/94XV4FfMrt

Ahmad Faizal bin Dato’ Azumu, Perak MB, is Committee Chairman for Land and Natural Resources and it is his duty to inform the public what happened in Kledang Hill and not wait for people to question him. Until today he is silent on the issue and the assemblymen are not saying anything. Why the secrecy? The conspiracy theorists implicate the MB in what was done. He should come clean.

After the Perak MB claimed that Orang Asli in the state have no customary or ancestral land rights, he has been corrected and made to realise that Orang Asli have both common law and statutory proprietary rights in the Aborigines Peoples Act 1954, protected by the Federal Constitution.

Primary forests are vital for the Orang Asli and provide them shelter, clean water, hunting grounds, farming land, community foraging and burial grounds. Deforestation and development of plantation forests result in pollution of river water and depletion of food sources for them. This forces the Orang Asli to lead a life of poverty and hardship. We have no right to destroy the lifestyle of any community.

It was reported in NST that the tallest tropical tree was found in the forests of Sabah and a 120-year-old rubber tree in Seremban is worth RM3.8 million. Who knows what is in store in the forests of Kinta Valley.

It is time Perak MB and his men discard their destructive mindset and think creatively for the progress of the state. They should think out of the box and not depend on developers to advise them what to do. Most of the news coming out of the state is negative and depressing like MB wanting to sell his residence and clearing of forests, selling river sand and importing plastic garbage from all over the world. We want the government to come up with constructive ideas. Development must not be at the expense of the destruction of our natural resources.

It took millions of years for the forests to form and once gone, they are gone forever. These are assets our forefathers left for us and we have to leave them for our children and grandchildren.

 

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