The Pahang State Parks Corporation Bill just passed in the Pahang legislative assembly today (26 Aug) and some have already voiced their concerns.
According to Malaysiakini, the environmental group Malaysian Nature Society said that the project could endanger the state’s protected forests and biodiversity.
MNS Pahang chairperson Noor Jehan Abu Bakar said that the bill, which allows the development of a powerful Pahang State Parks Corporation, does not address issues of conservation.
“This is extremely dangerous, as it would expose the state parks to serious risk of unsustainable development and resource exploitation,” she said.
The bill’s Section VI states that the local authorities will from time to time decide which areas will be included or excised as state parks, and placed under the governance of the Pahang State Parks Corporation.
However, the process of which excision or inclusion is done is not stated, potentially opening areas of critical and protected biodiversity to exploitation.
Noor Jehan also said that it is silent on provisions for indigenous peoples and local community access to the resources in the parks. Civil society was not engaged in the drafting of the bill too, according to her.
Are protected areas in Pahang in trouble? The Pahang state assembly today passed a Bill that has no provisions and safeguards for conservation, said said Noor Jehan Bt. Abu Bakar, Chairperson of MNS Pahang.#protectedareas #stateparks
— macarangatweets (@macarangatweets) August 25, 2021
Among others, the bill states that the Pahang State Parks Corporation is tasked to identify, protect and promote Pahang’s state parks. To do so, it is provided control to administer the state parks and can form companies to perform these duties, the bill reads.
This means it can also be involved in “commercial activities to promote and develop the Pahang state parks” and “provide assistance in any form to those wanting to develop” the parks.
It can also “involve itself in any contracts or agreements, and negotiate with any parties on any matter which it feels is necessary”.
The corporation will be funded by the Pahang State Parks Consolidate Fund and are made up of state allocations, income through any corporation projects or earned through leases or other charges.