Safety, not profits, must be priority at cave, hillside temple sites, says NGO

IPOH: Environmentalists and nature lovers here are hoping more stringent guidelines are drawn up without further delay for fragile cave or hillside areas.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman said the incident at Qing Xin Ling Leisure and Cultural Village where a man was killed by a falling rock should never be allowed to happen again.

He said the committee in charge of the matter should not waste precious time.

"Everyone knows that limestone formations are extremely sensitive.

"With this tragedy, I really hope the so-called committee will take the matter seriously and carry out spot checks on similar sites," he said when contacted on Thursday (May 23).

When contacted on Thursday, Perak housing and local government committee chairman Sandrea Ng Shy Ching said the committee is expected to meet next week.

Meor Razak said eco-tourism sites must have proper technical experts to check if such sites are safe for development.

"Safety aspects must be the number one priority, not profits," he said, adding that local community engagement was also important.

Ipoh City Watch president Prof Richard Ng said similar incidents at limestone hills have occurred before.

He said the state government should be strict when it comes to development at limestone hills.

"There will be people saying such development should be banned, certain groups will call for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) report, then we also have political interference." he said,

He added that the government cannot allow development at such sites without placing safety aspects first and not think of potential consequences.

Ng cited the example of the tragic 1973 Gunung Cheroh rockslide which claimed 40 lives.

He said the issue will be in the public eye for a while after an incident occurs before it fades, only to surface again when another tragedy hits.

"The government needs to put a stop to this and ensure that any development at such sites must be done according to the law.

"Operators must comply with all rules and regulations, including following the buffer zone guidelines," he said.

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