How should we judge a government?

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience - Mark Twain

Why we should be against censorship in a court of law: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no
responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options
I suggest government... because nobody has ever been caught.

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?
Corruption is so prevalent it affects English language?

When there's too much dirt...

When there's too much dirt...
We need better tools... to cover up mega corruptions.

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bikam permanent forest reserve de-gazetted for oil palm cultivation... nothing is permanent where profit is concerned

My daughter Cheng who is based in Maastricht, suggested that I help publicise the petition to Perak State government to reverse its decision to convert the Bikam forest reserve to plantation.

Just imagine myself, living in Perak and unaware or did not take notice of this. Maybe, I have been conditioned by the BN regime that what they had decided can never be changed and it would be fruitless for any attempt by anybody to try to convince them otherwise.

Nothing is permanent anymore if a so-called permanent forest reserve can so easily be de-gazetted to be replaced by oil palm cultivation.

I googled 'bikam forest reserve' and found nothing but a Visit Perak website and Royal Belum forest reserve instead. I tried Yahoo and found a number of postings, including the following NST report which I think is relevant:

PRICE OF DEVELOPMENT: Last natural habitat in Bikam forest reserve in Perak cleared for oil palm cultivation
 BIDOR: WITH its last natural habitat totally wiped out, the Dipterocarpus coriaceus tree species, known locally as keruing paya, is now regarded as extinct in the peninsula.
A finding made by the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) on Wednesday found that trees from the species could not be found at their last remaining bastion -- the now de-gazetted Bikam permanent forest reserve near here.
The state government had this year fully de-gazetted what remained of more than 400ha of the forest reserve to make way for the cultivation of oil palm.

Read more: 'Keruing paya' now extinct - Johor - New Straits Times

With rapid development in Malaysia, property prices have shot up so high that a number of high-rise buildings had been demolished to make way for redevelopment. Eg. Jaya shopping complex in Section 14, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. It was unfortunate that in this particular case, several Indonesian workers died during demolition process because heavy tractors were working from the top downwards!

Anyway, another case which I happened to know was a joint-venture (Selangor Orchids) many years ago, between Selangor state government and a Japanese partner in Sungei Buloh, in growing orchids for export. What was original cheap state land acquired for the purpose became very valuable property development land which certain parties found irresistible. As expected, the JV ended and concrete structures took over and some people presumably made a bundle in the process.

In the case of Perak, there are large tracts of natural forests which are constantly under attack by illegal loggers who became rich because of the free supply of mature trees of valuable species. They just needed some experienced men with tractors, chain saws and timber lorries. Forest department employees are either under-staffed to be able to keep an eye on such illegal logging, or 'close one eye and shut the other' when the culprits were found out and they were amply rewarded. The locations are so remote that it is difficult to access and check, and similarly, anyone who is supposed to check on those checkers would be tempted not to do a proper check. He too can be bribed, in a seemingly 'win-win' situation. I have even heard of anthills being used to cover some newly cut stumps and pictures taken for filing and closing of cases!

It is already bad enough that virgin forests are being continuously and illegally invaded and mature trees cut for commercial gains. The government also loses in terms of duties and income tax not accounted for, though this should not be a reason for encouraging clearing of permanent forests.

With the de-gazetting of permanent forest reserves, the state government is legalising activities which used to be covert and smaller in scale. Therefore we can expect, with official sanction, big-time plantation companies will move in with their efficient machineries and in a relatively short time, large tracts of forests will be cleared and it will be too late to cry over spilt milk.

Basically, it boils down to costs and profitability. To the businessmen, if they could convince (euphemism for settle with or 'kautim') the state decision-makers, they could buy or lease vast tracts of land at a fraction of the market price. There is no shortage of land in the market, judging from the many idle pieces in a state like Perak. But the prices have appreciated much because of their development potential, and increasingly prohibitive for ventures like oil-palm cultivation which requires high capital investment and gestation period of at least 3 years before seeing any returns from harvesting. Do they care about the environment impact and the future generations? I wish to know  the names of the companies involved in this exploitation. Such companies have shown zilch in terms of corporate social responsiblities.

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