ALOR SETAR: Former Kedah menteri besar Mukhriz Mahathir said the PAS-led state government is making up stories about claims amounting to RM1 billion by loggers as a ruse to approve more timber concessions in the state.
He said when he was MB, there were no compensation claims from companies after they lost the chance to log the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve, after it was gazetted as a water catchment area by the Pakatan Harapan state government in March 2019.
“No logging companies have ever asked the Kedah government for damages amounting to RM1billion. This is a lie to approve new timber concessions.
“There were no problems, to begin with. The current government need not thump its chest and claim it has a massive problem left behind by the Pakatan Harapan government and now it has to settle it.
“Don’t confuse people with wild accusations. The rakyat is watching the MB and his executive councillors.
“Allah knows better. One wrong step and you pay the price,” he said in a statement.
Mukhriz said as recently as last month, he had chaired three meetings where outstanding logging issues were settled.
He said a win-win deal was reached regarding timber concessions, which would benefit the government, people and environmentalists who want logging to be stopped in Ulu Muda.
“No company that lost its logging rights in Ulu Muda threatened legal action against the state government. Engagement sessions were held. Few demands were made. All cooperated properly.
“Those who did not pay premiums will be given some time to settle them. If they don’t, their logging licences would be cancelled.
“If their logging area was within the (gazetted) water catchment area, they were told to pick another place,” he said.
Mukhriz said what is being announced by the state government was in fact hard work put in by the PH state government before this.
“There are no problems for the new MB, who has held office for 10 days, to settle.”
Current MB Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor has said the past PH government has left his administration with claims amounting close to RM1.5 billion from 40 logging companies which were given rights to log in the Ulu Muda Forest Reserve area.
The forest reserves are an important water catchment area and many groups have demanded that logging be halted altogether in the area. Perlis, Kedah and Penang rely on water from the Sungai Muda for their needs.
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