IPOH: Two environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) say that they are not against development in Perak – but it should be done in a sustainable manner.
In different press statements on Monday (May 13), the Organisation for the Preservation of Natural Heritage Malaysia (Peka), and Kumpulan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (Kuasa) said the state should not blame NGOs for its inability to solve issues concerning the orang asli.
Kuasa president Hafizudin Nasarudin said they never opposed development in the state, only that proper planning was required.
"However, many issues are not solved and we have to put pressure on the state government.
"This includes the 400ha Bukit Kinta forest reserve plantation project which will see trees felled for logging activities.
"Then there are issues of logging at Tasik Cunex in Gerik. All these involved orang asli customary land," he said.
Hafizudin was commenting on Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu statement that NGOs "championing" the rights of orang asli in Perak were not sincere and hampering development in the state.
He refuted Ahmad Faizal's that only the tagging process was carried out, but the projects approved showed otherwise.
"That is why the NGOs have been asking for a more transparent process in approving development projects in the state by getting views from the experts, NGOs and the community to avoid conflicts.
"Instead of picking a fight with the NGOs, it is better for the Mentri Besar to get proper advice from the right parties," he added.
Peka said it was disappointed with the allegations.
Its president Puan Seri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said Ahmad Faizal, as the state leader, should be proud of successes but also take responsibility for failures.
She said NGOs serve as a check-and-balance for the state.
"In the matter of orang asli issue in Perak, their settlements and land – which encompasses much of Perak's rainforests – are affected by logging.
"We champion sustainable development that emphasises environmental concerns equally with other aspects of development," she added.
Shariffa Sabrina urged the state government to seriously consider sustainable development in their plans to develop Perak.
"There is nothing to gain if Perak continues to rely on logging for revenue except for the destruction of the natural environment, wildlife extinction, and complete annihilation of the orang asli culture and way of life," she added.