Selangor not transparent about degazettement of Kuala Langat forest

Hailey Chung Wee Kye

Orang Asli community leaders have voiced their objections to the development of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Nazir Sufari, October 10, 2020.

TEN civil society organisations and a political party accuse Selangor of not being transparent about the degazettement of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR) and want the state to explain the move. 

“The lack of transparency surrounding the degazettement of the KLNFR is very worrying, particularly given its status as an environmentally sensitive area. 

“It is protected under the Third National Physical Plan (RFN-3), the Selangor State Structure Plan 2035, and the Kuala Langat Local Plan 2030,” the organisations said in a joint statement.

The 931ha of peatland forest was gazetted as a forest reserve in 1927. It was said to have covered almost 7,247ha at that time. 

“What is the purpose of gazetting these plans if they can be easily changed?” they said.

The group said Selangor has not provided scientifically backed justifications, nor outlined the benefits that the degazettement will bring to the people.

The group said there was conflict of interest in the decision-making process.

“The Menteri Besar Incorporated applied for this degazettement, while the Menteri Besar himself sits on the decision-making committee.”  

The group wants the government to have accountability and include public participation.

“The people of Kuala Langat, especially the Orang Asli communities, have a right to know who is behind degazettement, what the plans for the land are, and how they will benefit. 

“And if they are not convinced, the state government must listen to them.”

The degazettement is said to displace almost 2,000 Temuan tribepeople from their ancestral land. 

On September 29, Orang Asli community leaders expressed objections and displeasure at a town hall meeting in Pulau Carey.

Malaysia is a signatory to the United National Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which states that the indigenous peoples cannot be forcibly removed from their lands without consent, the civil groups said.

The signatories to the statement are civil groups Suaram (Suara Rakyat Malaysia), Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar Kuala Langat, Persatuan Kesedaran dan Keadilan Iklim Malaysia (Klima Action Malaysia - KAMY), Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam (PEKA), EMPOWER Malaysia, Greenpeace Malaysia, Gerimis Art Projects, Five Arts Centre, Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (Kuasa), and Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Centre), as well Parti Sosialis Malaysia.

More than 45,000 objection letters to the proposed degazettement have been sent. 

The group said KLNFR is home also to endangered species such as the Malayan Sun Bear, Selangor Pygmy Flying Squirrel and, Langat Red Fighting Fish.

It said the development of KLNFR will release 5.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is unaligned with Malaysia’s Paris Agreement (PA) commitment to reduce 45% greenhouse gases by 2030.  – October 10, 2020.

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