Firstly writing in Free Malaysia Today, Scott Ng asks Selangor chief minister Azmin Ali why he does not listen to Selangor residents' concerns with clearing of greenery or what's left of it in Selangor to make way for "development".
Secondly, The Star's report on the unrestricted clearance of the slopes of Penang Hill in Penang by farmers.
Then on Sunday 10 April 2016, I took these pictures of land being cleared beside the Capa Residency gated housing estate in Bandar Sungai Long, Kajan, Selangor state. I was informed by one of the residents of Capa that it is to make way for a development of hi-rise blocks of up to 20,000 condos.
The Star should fly its camera drone over this area.
Now why oh why this continued raping of greenery and hill slopes under a Pakatan state government, which has been ruling Selangor since the 2008 general elections?
When they won Selangor from the previous Barisan Nasional state government of Selangor, I expected that this destruction of greenery and building craze would end but it has continued unabated.
Now Pakatan, shut your gap over 1MDB, RM2.6 billion donation or whatever, Altatantuya, transparency, accountability, integrity, Scorpene submarine, overpriced littoral combat ships, overpriced MRT project, yada, yada, yada, when you approve the routing of the Damansara-Shah Alam Highway through the Damansara Perdana and Mutiara Damansara residential areas and construction of the Sungei-Besi Klang Highway against residents' objections and allow continued "development" which robs of of whatever greenery we have left.
These high-falutin issues do not affect us plaebian masses directly, whilst the destruction of our greenery does.
We are suffering from a prolonged, intense heat wave due to an abnormal El Nino effect this year and fewer green areas will make our plight worse.
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Here are the Free Malaysia Today and The Star's articles
Azmin, why don’t you listen?
Scott Ng | April 23, 2016
Come election time, Selangorians will remember the rape of their forests and the broken promise about tolled highways.
When Selangor MB Azmin Ali took power after a protracted struggle with his predecessor, Khalid Ibrahim, he promised he would get down to brass tacks and work for the public’s benefit.
He gave out his number so that people could inform him of unsightly garbage dumps and promised that the people would be heard over the Kidex issue.
He was young, energetic, the right hand man of Anwar Ibrahim himself, and much was expected of him by the people of Selangor who, by the way, had voted in Khalid’s administration, not Azmin’s.
And yet, Selangor’s forest reserves keep getting degazetted to make way for more and more highways in defiance of the public’s deep resentment.
Selangorians have long objected to the destruction of our forests for the benefit of state coffers. And now the Bukit Cherakah and Bukit Sungei Puteh reserves have been identified for degazetting to make way for the Damansara-Shah Alam and the Sungei Besi-Ulu Kelang highways. This is despite Pakatan’s and Azmin’s noises about “no more highways”.
Despite years of widespread and vocal opposition to new highways, Selangor is criss-crossed with them and residents are beginning to get irritated with Azmin.
Many parts of Selangor are undergoing rapid physical development as the government races to realise its Greater Klang Valley vision.
Perhaps many of us share the vision, but cannot understand why it can’t be realised without raping our forests. Our forest reserves should be regarded as sacred, especially when there is so little left.
The Lanjan reserve, for instance, is little more than a strip these days.
There is indeed a great appreciation for greenery among Selangorians, perhaps because development encroaches upon our lives ever more aggressively every day. It is not uncommon to hear Selangorians in coffee shops bemoaning council decisions to cut down tall, shady trees by the side of the road, or to click their tongues in irritation at the plethora of condos currently being built in Section 13, Petaling Jaya.
Each instance of physical development on the landscape reminds Selangorians that we cannot escape the inexorable march of modernisation despite our wish to retain close contact with nature.
One could also point out that Selangor has the most tolled highways of any state, which explains our somewhat less-than-welcoming position on the idea of yet more of the same.
Azmin has not been performing satisfactorily as our Menteri Besar for quite some time now. After a great start, he went back to business as usual. He had better be careful if he wants to continue sitting in his cushy chair.
Selangorians are the most informed of Malaysians. We are also the most demanding.
When we don’t want something to happen, we are not afraid to let you know. Azmin’s affiliation to PKR cannot help him if he is judged as wanting by the people of Selangor.
We’ll give him the boot if we have too.
Khir Toyo received laughs instead of sympathy when he pleaded with the people for mercy, and the same can happen to Azmin if he refuses to listen and then come crawling back in two years’ time to ask for our votes.
Engage us, Azmin, and find a way to work with us or face the possibility of losing your seat come GE14.
Saturday, 23 April 2016
Penang Hill getting bad to worse
GEORGE TOWN: The clearing of land on Penang Hill is far more widespread than previously thought.
While some bald patches can be seen by the naked eye from the road at the bottom of the hill or by photographers using telephoto lenses, an aerial survey showed rampant hill clearings along the hill slope, especially in Paya Terubong.
The Star captured these images via a drone flying between 180m and 450m upwards from Jalan Paya Terubong.
The images revealed ugly hill slope clearings quite similar to that in Cameron Highlands and Lojing.
Those clearing the area are farmers who want to plant crops. They have also terraced the hill slopes.
Some of them own the land, some have temporary occupation licences while others may have cultivated the state land illegally.
There are some structures being erected on the hill slope above the cemetery in Paya Terubong.
A drone picture showed foreign workers doing construction work.
There was also a bald patch near a telecommunications tower, not far from the Kuan Yin Pavilion.
This can be seen clearly by motorists coming down from Lebuhraya Thean Teik near another cemetery heading to Bandar Baru Air Itam.
When the aerial pictures were shown to Penang Island City Council mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail and engineering department director Addenan Mohd Razali, Patahiyah said the council would issue a statement later.
“We are aware of the hill clearings. We have taken aerial pictures. Action is being taken,” she said.
However, when pressed, she did not elaborate on the type of action taken. Patahiyah said farmers were violating the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 if they had not obtained approval from the council first.
“If they disturb the soil for cultivation, they must apply for earthworks approval. This means they cannot clear the forest. It’s an offence,” she said.
On the buildings under construction along the slopes, Patahiyah said the council would need to check whether any plans for earthworks and building had been submitted.
Patahiyah said there must be a concerted approach by government departments to check on hill clearings.
“The council can only use the Street, Drainage and Building Act.
“We need the Lands and Mines Office and the district office to the National Land Code 1965 to investigate the hill clearings,” she said.
Asked whether the council had shared its aerial pictures with either the Lands and Mines Office or district office, Addenan said no.
“We keep them for own record. But we share the pictures with other departments in the council, such as the Building Department to check whether a particular structure had been built without permission.
“But if the Lands and Mines Office and district office want the pictures, we can share with them,” he said.
Addenan said the council would work with other departments such as the Survey and Mapping Department when taking enforcement action.
“We need to know the lot numbers of the land in question. We usually conduct site visits with several departments so as to get their input as well,” he said.
A Penang Agriculture Department spokesman said they did not encourage farmers to cultivate along steep slopes as this would cause soil erosion.
He added that they would report to the Land Office if they came across forest land which was suspected of being cleared illegally for cultivation.
“Farmers have been planting vegetables and other crops on the slope of Penang Hill from the time of colonial rule.
“There is nothing much we can do about it now,” he said, adding that they do not have enforcement powers.
“But when farmers request for aid, such as fertilisers or equipment, we will visit the farm and check whether the site is suitable. If it is on a steep hill slope, the request will be rejected,” he said.
Consumers Association of Penang president S.M. Mohd Idris was outraged after seeing the aerial pictures.
“It appears there is a free-for-all on Penang Hill. Farmers are still clearing hill slopes as they please despite the umpteen press statements by the authorities on action against hill clearings.
“Buildings are also being constructed on the slopes. Is the council doing anything about it? If they are aware, what action have they taken so far? he asked.
Idris said Penang island was famous for its hills and natural beauty but these were being destroyed.
In November last year, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced in the state assembly that the city council was using drones to check illegal land clearing.
He said the council also planned to install CCTVs to monitor illegal earthworks in hilly areas this year.
Lim said the council had identified 22 locations for the CCTVs.
Hilly areas that are not covered by CCTVs would be monitored using drones.