Perak environment exco: I didn’t approve logging at Orang Asli village in Gerik

A Perak government leader says it is common to see lorries carrying logs out from forests in Gerik. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Perak state exco in charge of the environment today said he was not involved in the decision to start logging near an Orang Asli village in Gerik.

Abdul Aziz Bari, the state education, technology, science and environment committee chairman, stated this hours after the Perak Forestry Department said the state government had allowed the logging to be carried out.

He said he had heard of complaints about the logging.

“I have received several letters regarding the logging,” Aziz told FMT.

“But I was not involved in this matter. I also don’t know how the decision was made on the logging.”

Aziz admitted that logging will affect the environment and he didn’t like trees to be felled. He said logging, as well as mining and other activities, needed to be strictly controlled.

Villagers in Kampung Tasik Cunex Grik had claimed that a logging company had brought in machinery on Dec 19 last year and damaged pipes that supplied water to some 50 villagers in the Tasik Cunex area.

They told FMT that in January, they complained to the state government and the menteri besar about the matter but nothing was done.

A representative of the community, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said when the illegal logging began, they ramped up their protests.

“We protested. When we were ignored, we set up a blockade.

“On Jan 31, a spokesperson for the logging company and a representative of the Perak Forestry Department said they will not hesitate to employ rough tactics if we prevent them from logging.”

FMT understands a police report has been lodged over the matter.

Speaking to FMT today, Perak Forestry Department director Mohamed Zin Yusop said his officers were in the village to meet the Orang Asli community and explain to them that the logging had been approved by the state government.

A state government leader told FMT that after the May 9 polls last year, an approval letter was issued by the Pakatan Harapan-led state government for logging to be carried out in Kampung Tasik Cunex Gerik.

“But I am not sure how it was decided,” the leader, who didn’t want to be identified, said.

He claimed there were some parties within the state government who did not agree with logging in general “but had no power to stop it”.

He said that it was common to see lorries taking away timber from the forests in Gerik.

This leader noted that the Perak menteri besar had the power to approve permits for logging and mining.

When contacted, a spokesperson for Perak Menteri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu told FMT that a statement on the matter will be issued by the menteri besar tomorrow after getting all relevant details first.