PETALING JAYA: The Organisation for the Preservation of Natural Heritage Malaysia (Peka) wants more details on how the RM60mil allocation will be channelled towards protecting forest reserves.
Peka president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said its greatest fear was that the allocation, announced in Budget 2019, would not lead to changes in the logging policy of states such as Kelantan, Perak, Pahang, Terengganu, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak.
“The lack of details pertaining to this allocation and other efforts related to the environment during the tabling of the Budget merely reinforces the perception that the government is still not serious in preserving and conserving our rainforests, rivers and seas,” she said.
She also suggested that the government use the National Security Act to ban logging.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced in Budget 2019 that funds would be sent to states which work to protect existing forest reserves while gazetting new ones.
Shariffa Sabrina argued that the funds, while necessary, would not solve Malaysia’s environmental problems.
“The government must lead state governments, businesses and the public to build an environmentally friendly and sustainable country,” she said.
Peka also urged the government to work with state governments to ensure the orang asli’s way of life is preserved and protected.
“While we welcome the RM100mil allocation for orang asli, their lives and culture remain threatened by rampant development,” she said.
Shariffa Sabrina also reminded the government to never sacrifice the environment in pursuit of development, adding that leaders failed to ensure good air quality as factories were allowed to pollute.
“The plastic waste issue in Selangor remains unresolved as the government continues to weigh the economic benefits of such environmentally damaging activities against the people’s health and wellbeing,” she added.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Nature Society president Prof Dr Ahmad Ismail welcomed the government’s move to ensure that the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia’s (FRIM) Selangor forest park and the Royal Belum state park get listed as Unesco world heritage sites.
He said that as a country listed among 12 other nations with great biological diversity in the world, Malaysia has various species of flora and fauna that are not found elsewhere and some of that are facing extinction.
“What’s unique about the Royal Belum is because it is more than 130 million years old, and is one of the oldest tropical rainforests in the world.
“The park has endangered species such as the Malayan tiger and there are also 10 species of hornbills that are not found elsewhere in the world.
“The government’s move to make it a world heritage site will strengthen the country’s ‘treasure-protection’ efforts,” he said.