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MACC swoop in on top Pahang officials in Cameron Highlands probe

As published in Malay Mail today

By Haresh Deol

KUALA LUMPUR — More than a dozen top Pahang officials are being investigated over dubious land deals in the ecologically-damaged Cameron Highlands.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission  (MACC) has also questioned land owners and other individuals linked to extensive illegal land clearing to cash in on the lucrative vegetable, fruit and flower industry there.

The anti-corruption agency has “stacks of documents” linking high ranking civil servants who approved land clearing between Ringlet and Kampung Raja, located almost 35km apart, sources revealed.

“There are strong indications top government officials from the Land and District Office and other state government agencies are linked to the illegal land clearing in the Camerons,” said the source in the thick of investigations.

“MACC is also looking at land owners and other parties involved in areas where illegal cultivations took place. Documents were seized from offices and investigating officers are scrutinising deals between the parties involved.”

Those from land and district offices transferred in recent years are also under MACC’s radar.

Another source said even former senior officers were hauled up for questioning.

“The investigating team is on the trail of approving officers in the district and land offices and other government agencies. They also know those in cahoots with these government officers and are closing in on them,” the source said.

Sources had told Malay Mail in the past the Cameron Highlands saga could be “as big, if not bigger” than MACC’s crackdown in September against dozens of high-ranking Customs Department officers.

Cameron Highlands, famed for being an agriculture hub and tourist destination, has been plagued with land clearing activities that disrupted its eco-system.

Environmentalists have, for more than a decade, urged the relevant parties, including the state government, to stop deforestation activities.

Trees were chopped to make way for illegal farms and development, causing water to gush straight from the hills to nearby villages during a downpour.

A mudslide on Nov 5 claimed five lives, including that of a 13-year-old boy, as houses and vehicles were destroyed, forcing many to temporarily relocate.

The state government and Cameron Highlands MP Datuk Seri G. Palanivel were slammed over the tragedy. Palanivel is also Natural Resources and Environmental minister.




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