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Another NGO takes swipe at Pahang govt

As published in Malay Mail today.

By Haresh Deol

KUALA LUMPUR — Another environmental group has come out with guns blazing, criticising the Pahang government over the excessive clearing of land in the Cameron Highlands.
Association for the Protection of Natural Heritage of Malaysia president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil also took the extreme stand that all development projects there should cease and the military roped in to help safeguard the area.
“There’s too much development ... very weak state government. Many individuals believe they are above the law,” she said.
“All this needs to stop. Then we can save the Cameron Highlands.”
Shariffa said since the Cameron Highlands were the highest hill resort in the country, efforts must be taken to preserve instead of exploit it.
“One way of preservation is to stop further infrastructure work that would constitute more cutting down of trees and hills,” she said.
“(The authorities need to) monitor further land clearing for vegetables and palm oil plantations and logging. Personnel from the Armed Forces and Royal Malaysia Air Force must be deployed to curb the activities.”
She said the state government should stop handing out permits for both residential and commercial developments.
Several parties had said the influx of illegals there contributed to the illegal clearing of land to conduct farming activities, thus disturbing the ecosystem resulting in landslides and floods. 
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim revealed on Tuesday a massive integrated operation to flush out illegal immigrants involved in encroachment activities at the highlands would be carried out soon.
Shariffa took issue instead with “influential locals” who had a hand in the illegal activities.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said on Sunday its investigations revealed politicians and the palace were linked to the excessive clearing of land, among others. The state government, however, downplayed it as “hearsay”. 
“Now they are blaming the foreign workers. If you are in a foreign country, would you dare to take government land for your personal benefit? Of course, they are working for someone,” she said.
“All one needs to do is to take the effort to investigate. I believe there will be paper trails. 
“The life of a whistleblower is not popular or safe but if we are to be serious of stopping further unnecessary deaths because of these man-made natural disasters, it’s time we take a stand.” 
On Tuesday, WWF-Malaysia issued a statement urging the state government to enforce a strict moratorium on forest clearing in the Cameron Highlands. 
On Oct 23 last year, flash floods in Bertam Valley killed four people, inundated 80 homes and damaged 100 vehicles. 
Last Wednesday, parts of Ringlet were flooded and a mudslide swept through Bertam Valley, leading to the loss of five lives.


  1. Correction: not " a very weak state govt" but a useless state govt!

    Anak Pahang


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