By Dr. Darren Ong Chung Lee
Parti Sosialis Malaysia condemns the Selangor Pakatan Harapan state government’s decision to degazette more than half of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve. There are many reasons why this degazettement is a terrible idea. As outlined in this statement by the Pertahankan HSKLU coalition, this degazettement decision lacks transparency and accountability, worsens the climate crisis, and violates indigenous peoples’ cultural, and land rights. Degazetting the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve brings no benefit to the people of Selangor, except a few well-connected individuals. It also goes against a unanimous resolution in the Selangor State Assembly in November 2020 to protect the forest reserve.
Selangoreans are stuck in a situation from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”, where after overthrowing bad leaders, the new leadership has become as bad as the one it replaced . Thirteen years after defeating Barisan Nasional in 2008, the Pakatan Harapan state government is behaving like the BN governments of the past. The decision to degazette was made in May in secret with no transparency, primarily benefiting Gabungan Indah Sdn Bhd, a mysterious company with no track record given the privilege to develop the 536.7ha of degazetted forest.
Clearly this whole dispute has proven that the Selangor Government's exercise of calling for public consultation was a farce. It was worthless, as at the end of the day the power of business interests has clearly overpowered the voice of the rakyat. Pakatan Harapan’s governments in Selangor and Penang have again proven that they are in no way practising ‘ketuanan rakyat’ as often sloganised by Anwar Ibrahim. All of these have proven to be mere political rhetoric: profits before the planet.
We urge the national leaders of Pakatan Harapan, Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Guan Eng, and Mohamad Sabu to rebuke their Selangor government and call on them to reverse the degazettement.If they fail than they have lost all moral ground to criticize excessive logging and mining activities approved by States run by PAS and UMNO.
We urge Menteri Besar Amiruddin Shari to revoke the degazettement immediately. If he fails we urge the Selangor state assembly to call for a vote of no confidence against his government. Surely there is a more capable Menteri Besar candidate among the ADUNs.
Finally, it is clear that the Pakatan Harapan state government’s large majority in the state assembly has enabled them to ignore the interests of Selangor people in favour of their own benefit. We thus urge Selangor voters to vote against Pakatan Harapan state representatives, in favour of a truly progressive and people-centered alternative.
*Associate Professor Dr. Darren Ong Chung Lee, is deputy coordinator of PSM’s environment bureau*
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