Saturday, March 31, 2007


Kelantan: It’s a stab in the back

KOTA BARU: The Kelantan Government feels as if it has been “backstabbed” by government enforcement agencies over logging and development at the Lojing highlands, state Financial Planning Committee chairman Datuk Husam Musa said.
“We are disappointed. It is like being stabbed in the back. During all the meetings on development there, the state stressed to all government agencies that they had to strictly enforce and avoid undue damage to the environment,” he said.
Describing himself as a pro-conservationist, Husam said the agencies should be better equipped to deal with any environmental damage instead of passing the buck back to the state government.
He was commenting on the on-going controversy over alleged illegal land clearing in the highlands, which was highlighted by The Star recently.
Husam expressed appreciation for the Department of Environment, which clarified that the 22 applications for projects in the highlands were mostly related to commercial vegetable farming, eco-tourism and recreation.
“The recent report portraying the state government as being irresponsible is untrue,” he said.
On the proposed visit by state Umno leaders to the site on Monday, Husam said he was willing to go but the proposed date clashed with other programmes.
“Also, I need information on where they are going to visit. We have to be clear as the area alleged to have suffered illegal clearing may not actually be in Lojing,” he said.
He added that he had been notified by Natural Resources and Environment Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Sazmi Miah that a helicopter was available to pick him up for an aerial tour of the affected areas.
He said he was open to the invitation by Umno to jointly find ways to resolve the alleged environment degradation in the area.
Meanwhile, Kelantan Umno liaison chief Datuk Seri Annuar Musa claimed that the state government had accrued over RM200mil losses in revenue due to the unscrupulous development and illegal logging activities in Lojing, Bernama reports.
He said the situation became serious after PAS took over the state government in 1990.
Conceding that most of the developers in Lojing were issued permits to carry out their activities by the previous Barisan Nasional state government, he however said that the “balding” of the highlands happened under PAS rule.
In Kangar, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid said the ministry has set up a special committee to investigate excessive logging and forest clearing in Kelantan.

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