PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli issued an ultimatum to Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hasan today to come clean on the state’s logging concessions or face an expose of Umno-linked companies responsible for rapidly consuming the state’s forest reserves.

azlan“The rakyat deserve to know who got these logging concessions, how much revenue the government is getting and the ownership status of the lands,” Rafizi told a press conference at the Parliament lobby this morning.

His challenge, Rafizi said, followed Mohamad’s unsatisfactory response to his expose that the Negeri Sembilan government had illegally allowed Umno-linked companies to log in the Padang Selatan forest reserve.

While Mohamad had said that 2,400 hectares of forest reserve had been replaced to compensate for the logging, Rafizi pointed out that the menteri besar had completed ignored addressing the illegality of the move.

NONE“Mohamad (right) had failed to explain the exco’s decision to nullify the permanent forest reserve status of the Padang Selatan forest reserve which is illegal under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976,” he said.

 The Jeram Padang Selatan forest reserve area is marked as an environmentally sensitive area (ESA), Class 1, which means no development is allowed.

Furthermore, Rafizi said, even though there was a replacement of 2,400 hectares, many more forest reserves have had their status cancelled to allow for logging.

'Negri Sembilan going bald'
Quoting the Forestry Department Report 2007-2010, Rafizi said the size of Negri Sembilan's forest reserves had reduced by 8,616 hectares or 5.3 percent.

This was in contrast with most states in the country, where the forest reserve areas have increased.

"Because of Negri Sembilan's poor record in replacing forest reserves, the Auditor-General’s Report 2010 sounded out and recommended that the state government identifies and replaces the forest reserves that it had degazetted," Rafizi said.

The replacement of new forest reserves taken up for timber logging is required by law under Section 12 of the National Forestry Act 1984.

"It is clear that the logging and development of Negri Sembilan forests is endemic and beyond control when the status of the number of forest reserves degazetted is at a rate of five percent every five years.

"With forests in the state shrinking every year, PKR estimates that there will be no more forests and water catchment areas in Negri Sembilan within 50 years," Rafizi added.

~ Malaysiakini