THE Pertahankan Hutan Simpan Kuala Langat Utara (PHSKLU) Coalition has welcomed the decision of the Selangor state government to revoke the degazettement of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR).
At the same time, the state government must promptly expedite the regazettement of KLNFR and enhance community management of the forest, as well as address the challenges facing the local Orang Asli community, said the coalition in a statement on Thursday (Sept 9).
“However, we remain concerned with how the state government has fast-tracked measures to benefit external parties through offering the land for development while the local Orang Asli communities living around KLFNR have yet to receive basic support and services,” they said.
According to the coalition, despite living in the area for at least 130 years, the Orang Asli community have no control or surety over their land and have been regularly threatened with eviction.
“They have had their graveyards bulldozed and their plantations dug up for sand mining, while receiving little support for their livelihood and welfare.
“While the state had rushed the forest degazettement within a year, none of the villages have been gazetted as Orang Asli reserves, despite 10 years of promises by the Government.”
At the same time, the PHSKLU coalition has expressed their concern over the Selangor state government’s plan to retain a portion of the forest for the proposed development of the East Coast Railway Line (ECRL) project.
This is despite the decision by the federal government to re-route the line 50km towards the North.
As such, the PHSKLU Coalition is calling for the following urgent actions:
To the Selangor state government:
- Within 30 days, re-gazette as forest reserve all of the degazetted area, except for the 40 hectares allocated to Kampung Orang Asli Busut Baru;
- Within three months, gazette the lands of the four Orang Asli villages adjacent to KLNFR, namely Kampung Orang Asli Busut Baru, Kampung Orang Asli Pulau Kempas, Kampung Orang Asli Bukit Cheeding and Kampung Orang Asli Bukit Kechil;
- The Selangor Select Committee on Capability, Accountability, and Transparency (SELCAT) should thoroughly probe the serious problems apparent in the degazettement process over the last 24 months, including the lack of transparency, arbitrary decisions, poorly organised inquiry process, threats to local communities to withdraw objections; selection of and changes in developers;
- Declassify and release the Laporan Cadangan Pemansuhan Hutan Simpan Kuala Langat prepared by the Selangor Forestry Department based on the objections and public inquiry;
- Use Motion (Usul) No. 26 as a guide for all future state development plans;
- Take measures to strengthen the protection and governance of forests in Selangor to prevent degradation and arbitrary degazettement from taking place in future. This includes removing the power for degazettement from the Exco and empowering the Selangor State Legislative Assembly to make these decisions while improving the process and transparency of public inquiries and stakeholder consultation; and
- Increase the allocation of resources for the protection and management of the KLNFR, as well as for the enhancement of the welfare and livelihoods of the Orang Asli community, including supporting the development of ecotourism and education facilities at the KLNFR so that the people of Selangor and the world can enjoy and learn from this unique environment.
To the federal government:
- Actively engage with and support all state governments in Malaysia to incentivise the state governments to prioritise forest and peatland protection over development – to meet state, national and international commitments for environment and sustainable development; and
- Facilitate the provision of national and international funds to the states to help ensure that environmentally sensitive areas like forests, peatlands, rivers, hills, and seas are protected from destruction for the sake of climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation purposes, while respecting safeguards including community rights.
The PHSKLU coalition comprises, among others, the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC), MISI: Solidariti, Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (KUASA), Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam (PEKA) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM). – Sept 9, 2021