Selangor Mentri Besar (MB) Amirudin Shari recently shared the state’s decision to degazette 536.7 hectares, equivalent to 865 football fields, of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR) back in May this year. The move was only uncovered during question time at the Selangor legislative assembly on Monday (30 Aug).
Since then, many environmental groups and activists have shared their concerns over the lack of transparency and accountability behind the decision.
The Pertahankan Hutan Simpan Kuala Langat Utara (PHSKLU) coalition and the Malaysian Youth for Forest Action (MyHutan) said the degazettement is a violation of the rights of the Orang Asli who live in that area.
“We condemn the lack of public consultation with key stakeholders and lack of detailed information on the process and results of the public inquiry into the degazettement of the forest reserve,” said the group in a statement yesterday (31 August).
A public inquiry was conducted almost a year ago but there has not been any reported results or further public discussions, they said. Meanwhile, MyHutan highlighted the possible displacement of the Orang Asli communities there.
“It is irrefutable that there was overwhelming dissent from the communities of the Kuala Langat North forest reserve such as the Orang Asli, the populace as well as civil societies,” MyHutan said.
Not only that, PHSKLU said humanity is in “code red” at this time, with the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released in early August warning of irreversible damage and climate catastrophes if no immediate climate action is taken.
As such, degazetting a forest reserve at this time shows “short-sightedness in pursuit of profit” and a lack of understanding of the severity of the climate crisis, they said.
— KAMY – Klima Action Malaysia (@KlimaAction) August 31, 2021
According to the groups, KLNFR is an 8,000-year-old peat swamp forest and one of the last in southern Selangor. MyHutan noted that the peatlands in the forest reserve also act as a critical buffer against flood risks and as a carbon sink.
Besides that, corruption watchdog – the Centre to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) also demands the Selangor government to come clean over this matter.
“We add to the chorus of public outcry over this decision done in secret, with the decision hidden for three months before it was announced. We know that the wages of secrecy are often corruption, and we know that in secrecy, errors detected will flourish and subvert,” they told Malay Mail today (1 Sept).
The group reminded that the plan to degazette KLNFR received 45,423 objections, overwhelming public attendance to a last-minute town hall session, more online petitions that finally accumulated around 130,000 signatures, and nearly 1,500 emails to Selangor state assembly-persons to express opposition to the degazettement, as well as a massive media campaign across all major local media outlets.
Meanwhile, activists and environmental groups have also brought to social media platforms to voice out and raise awareness regarding the de-gazettement. Check it out:
Rimba Disclosure Project is appalled at the decision to degazette 581.48ha of Hutan Simpan Kuala Langat Utara.
We are disgusted that this land has been awarded to a shell company which is reportedly owned by Samling – one of Asia’s worst performing companies in terms of ESG. pic.twitter.com/XmJxAG39aa
— Rimba Disclosure Project (@rimbadisclosure) August 31, 2021
this is everything u need to understand about the selangor government’s decision to degazette the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve & develop 536.7ha of the land. this is shameful.
— freyr (@notsoaidil) August 31, 2021
Our forests are at risk again to profit hungry land developers. This time, it’s the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR)
— MISI: Solidariti (@MSolidariti) February 25, 2021