By Sharan Raj
CURRENTLY, both Penang and Selangor, states led by Pakatan Harapan are frontrunners of overdevelopment.
Consider examples such as the degazetting of Kuala Langat Utara Forest Reserve (HSKLU), PJ Link Highway, Pulau Indah Power Plant (PIPP), Penang South Reclamation (PSR) and many more.
Selangor had also launched a 1,000ha Agro-Park near the North Selangor Peat Forest. Pakatan was a fierce critic of the independent power producers (IPP) but Selangor is the owner of the planned IPP in Pulau Indah.
Before the 12th General Election (GE-12), these types of environmentally destructive greenfield megaprojects were only mooted by Barisan Nasional and were unimaginable under the Pakatan leadership.
At the time, Pakatan leaders had minimal baggage and did not have a close relationship with big corporations and capitalists.
After 13 years, Pakatan-led Selangor and Penang are now the becoming torchbearers of environmentally destructive greenfield megaprojects because Pakatan state leaders had become so entrenched in the political-capitalist nexus, without any check and balance.
It might seem easy to blame Putrajaya for lack of funding to the states and corruption of certain elected “wakil rakyat” but that was never the root cause of approving these projects.
The political-capitalist nexus had turned Pakatan state leadership into “spokespersons” for these environmentally destructive greenfield megaprojects in exchange for corporate donations.
Pakatan self-branded itself as the reformists against BN’s hegemony but both Penang and Selangor are now against the dilution of the absolute powers wielded by chief ministers, in land and forestry affairs.
The impact of the political-capitalist nexus will continue to frustrate and disappoint people as long as the rakyat do not exercise their political power.
The struggle to protect our natural environment by resident associations, environmentalists and NGOs will have to continue unless the political-capitalist nexus is dismantled. – April 5, 2021.
Sharan Raj is a central committee member of Parti Sosialis Malaysia
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.