Name loggers demanding RM1.5 bil, CAP tells Kedah govt

A Sahabat Alam Malaysia picture of the forests surrounding Pedu Dam, Kedah, in 2016. The Ulu Muda forests serve as a water catchment area not just for Kedah but also Penang.

GEORGE TOWN: The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) today called on the Kedah government to reveal the names of the logging companies demanding compensation of RM1.5 billion as revealed by the menteri besar yesterday.

CAP president Mohideen Abdul Kader said this is to allow the public to make an informed opinion, since there are conflicting claims in a back-and-forth between the current and previous menteris besar.

He said the bottom line is that no new logging concession must be made to preserve the Ulu Muda forest reserve which serves as a major water catchment for Perlis, Kedah and Penang.

“The Ulu Muda forest reserve, with an area of about 100,000ha, is an important source of water for the people of Kedah, Perlis and Penang. It is also an important carbon sink contributing to ameliorating the adverse impacts of climate change,” he said in a statement.

Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor revealed that Kedah would have to pay some 40 logging companies RM1.5 billion after a permanent forest reserve was gazetted as untouchable by the previous Pakatan Harapan government.

Former menteri besar Mukhriz Mahathir countered the claim, saying no logging company had come to him demanding compensation during his tenure. He had said Sanusi’s government was making up stories about billion-ringgit claims as a ruse to approve more timber concessions in the state.

Mohideen called for a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to investigate the “propriety and legality” of the timber concession approvals by the past Kedah governments.

“What is shocking is that the past Kedah governments, over the years, have approved timber logging concessions exceeding the quota set by the Forestry Act 1984.

“This is a serious violation of the law and those responsible must be made accountable. Action must be taken against those responsible for the abuse of power, and corruption.

“The RCI should probe the propriety and legality of the approval of timber logging concessions. It should also recommend improvements to the law and procedures in approving concessions,” he said.

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