The People have spoken: Hands Off Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve
13 November 2020: The Pertahankan Hutan Simpan Kuala Langat Utara (PHSKLU) coalition congratulates the Selangor State Assembly for unanimously passing a motion on 11 November to protect all gazetted forest reserves in Selangor, to ensure the conservation and protection of water catchment and forest areas. We therefore urge the Menteri Besar and the State EXCO to withdraw the proposal to degazette Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR) immediately.
This extraordinary event was marked by unanimous support by State Assembly Representatives who objected, in particular, to the current proposal by the state of Selangor to de-gazette the KLNRF for the purpose of a “mixed development project” by the state government and other parties. The motion was raised by YB Najwan Halimi (PKR – Kota Anggerik) who in his speech, reiterated the moral responsibility of everyone to be a steward for the environment. In addition to the destruction of environment and biodiversity loss that has been highlighted many times in the press, YB Najwan also pointed out that areas around KLNFR were still relatively underdeveloped. Hence, there appears to be no reason to encroach on the forest reserve, a decision which implies a lack of planning by the State.
These objections echo the previous statement by YB Elizabeth Wong (PKR – Bukit Lanjan) in the State Assembly on 2 November that, “As a conscientious, responsible government, I would like to call upon the Selangor state government to have the courage, the political will to relook at the matter and to stop the degazettement of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve”
Support for this motion and objection to the degazettement was also resoundingly given by several other State Assembly Representatives including YB Michelle Ng (DAP-Subang Jaya), YB Edry Faizal Eddy Yusof (DAP-Dusun Tua), YB Dato Mohd Imram Tamrin (BN – Sungai Panjang), Rajiv Rishyakaran (DAP – Bukit Gasing) and YB Lim Yi Wei (DAP – Kampung Tunku).
The conservation of the forest reserve comes hand in hand with the continued commitment to ensure the protection of Orang Asli ancestral land rights. YB Edry Faizal Eddy Yusof, reminded the Assembly that, in multi-cultural Malaysia, the diversity of cultural rights is often taken into deep consideration. In the case of Orang Asli, their identity and culture is inseparable from the land and forest and that must be respected.
Today, Orang Asli land and villages continue to fight encroachment from developers seeking to log timber, or mine sand and a host of other activities. For example, during the time of the State Assembly Session, the state government through Kumpulan Semesta started clearing oil palm planted 10 years ago in Orang Asli ancestral land in Pulau Kempas Village adjacent to KLNFR to set up a new sand mine without any approval from the community. It is equally imperative that Orang Asli villages and farmland are protected. Temuan artist and member of coalition Shaq Koyok points out, “The forest is our life, it feeds us and is our culture. Our ancestors are buried here. Why does the Selangor state government, or any state government, feel that they can move us anywhere and destroy our culture and community just like that? Would they do the same to any other culture in Malaysia?”
This motion comes after more than 45,000 objections to the degazettement of KLNFR have been received by the state government. It also comes two weeks after the launch our public
campaign on 29 October encouraging the Rakyat to assert their right to a green vote by emailing their elected representatives to voice their objection to the degazettement. This campaign was widely shared on social media (#hutanpergimana) led by KAMY, Kuasa and Five Arts Centre, with images generated by different visual artists over the course of the campaign. Plants donated by GRASS Malaysia and EMPOWER Malaysia were also delivered to the state assemblypersons to remind them that acting on the climate crisis is in the hands of lawmakers in this generation. This campaign also overlaps the beginning of the regional Asian Climate Rally that was kicked off in Malaysia on 10 November.
Results of this campaign were tracked by SUARAM, Greenpeace Malaysia and PSM, and published on a website. A green scorecard later represented the positions of the lawmakers. According to Greenpeace Malaysia representative, Nur Sakeenah Omar, “Nearly 1,500 people sent emails to several or all elected representatives in Selangor. Public engagement was very positive and we are glad to see many Malaysians feeling strongly about this, enough to demand their elected representatives speak out for them.”
In addition to objections raised during the state assembly, other state assemblypersons who made objections included YB Chua Wei Kiat (PKR – Rawang), YB Azmizam Zaman Huri (PKR – Pelabuhan Klang) and Member of Parliament YB June Leow (PKR – Hulu Selangor). YB Hannah Yeoh (former Selangor State Assembly Speaker), despite not currently being a representative of Selangor, submitted her own objection.
PHSKLU observed this show of support across party lines with great encouragement, Faizal Parish, Director of Global Environment Centre remarked, “This is an encouraging step forward for all green campaigns, as it is a first time I am witnessing unanimous support, without objections, for the conservation of all forest reserves in response to development proposals”
But all is not over yet - PHSKLU is committed to monitor the situation as the final decision on the fate of KLNFR lies with the Selangor State Executive Council (EXCO). Any decision to proceed with changing the spirit and status of KLNFR will be shocking, at the very least. After such a clear and unanimous message from the people of Selangor and their elected representatives to “Keep Kuala Langat Forest as a Forest Reserve”, we urge the Menteri Besar and the State EXCO to immediately withdraw the proposal to de-gazette Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve.
The coalition would like to express our heartfelt thanks to the elected representatives, special interest groups and members of the public who continue to champion, and support the objection to the degazettement of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve.
The Pertahankan Hutan Simapan Kuala Langat Utara (PHSKLU) coalition consists of:
- Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam (PEKA )
- SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia)
- Persatuan Kesedaran dan Keadilan Iklim Malaysia (Klima Action Malaysia- KAMY )
- Five Arts Centre
- Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar Kuala Langat
- EMPOWER Malaysia
- Greenpeace Malaysia
- Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
- Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (KUASA)
- Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
- Global Environment Centre (GEC)
- Pertubuhan Alam Sekitar Sejahtera (GRASS) Malaysia
- Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Selangor Branch
- Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)
- Treat Every Environment Special Sdn Bhd (TrEES)
Sidang Dewan Negeri Selangor | 2 November 2020 - Sesi petang Quote by YB Elizabeth Wong, 1: 24:01
Sidang Dewan Negeri Selangor | 11 November 2020 - Sesi petang Speech by YB Najwan Halimi and ADUNs supporting, 1:16:08
1) Suresh Kumar | 019-569-6964 | email@example.com
2) Damien Thanam | 012-696-1129 | firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar | 018-358-2752 | email@example.com
4) Professor Madya Dr Darren Ong Chung Lee | 012-465-3750 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Attached: Full text of YB Najwan Halimi’s speech.