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Selangor MB Postpones Degazettement Of Forest Reserve After Public Outcry

Activists criticised the state for keeping the decision secret for months.

Cover image via Yusof Mat Isa/Malay Mail & Google (Edited by SAYS)

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Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari has promised to postpone the state's controversial decision to degazette 536.7 hectares of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR) for development use

In a statement on Wednesday, 1 September, Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) communications director Fahmi Fadzil said Amirudin will put the degazettement on hold until the state government has reviewed and clarified all issues that have been raised.

"The PKR political bureau has stressed that decisions need to adhere to a number of basic principles, including the importance of caring for the environment, transparency in the procurement and evaluation process, as well as minimising the impact of degazetting KLNFR on the public," said Fahmi.

He added that they will also address concerns raised by state assemblymen (ADUN) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) before proceeding.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) communications director Fahmi Fadzil.

Image via Shafwan Zaidon/Malay Mail

On Monday, 30 August, the Selangor state assembly was told that the state government had already agreed to degazette KLNFR for development a few months ago

According to Free Malaysia Today, the announcement came as a surprise to assemblymen, who demanded further clarification.

Selangor Tourism, Environment, and Green Technology exco Hee Loy Sian revealed that the decision was made at a state executive council meeting in May based on Section 12 of the National Forestry Act 1984.

Hee explained that the total area earmarked for development was now 54% of the 931.16 hectares that had been proposed earlier, and had taken into account objections raised following the initial proposal.

He added that 42.1 hectares out of the total area would be given to a private company, Gabungan Indah Sdn Bhd, for mixed development.

The announcement was met with objections from Bukit Lanjan ADUN Elizabeth Wong and Bukit Gasing ADUN Rajiv Rishyakaran, who both questioned the rationale and benefits of the move.

Selangor Tourism, Environment, and Green Technology exco Hee Loy Sian (standing).

Image via Faiz Anuar/Harian Metro

The state government's announcement also drew severe criticism from environmental activists

Former National Water Services Commission (SPAN) leaders released a statement condemning the decision and called on the Selangor Menteri Besar to reverse it.

Klang MP and former SPAN chairman Charles Santiago said the forest reserve plays a key role in water storage, ground and surface water supply, and flood mitigation in the state, which has already been facing many water resource challenges.

"KLNFR stores more than 15 billion litres of water in its peat soil and supplements groundwater and surface water flow in adjacent areas. This important function will be totally disrupted by the proposed project," he said.

Santiago added that the forest reserve is also indigenous territory and directly supplies water for agriculture and plantation to Temuan Orang Asli communities.

Other groups, such as Lawyers for Environmental Rights and Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4 Center), criticised the state for keeping the decision secret for months despite the level of public interest, and called on the state government to abort the degazettement over environmental concerns.

The Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve land marked in yellow. The area is roughly the size of 2,290 football fields.

Image via Google (Edited by SAYS)

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