For immediate release
Greenpeace Malaysia is deeply disappointed with the news that the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve has been de-gazetted on 5th May 2021, by the Selangor State Executive Council. The people’s voice and opinion has once again been silenced, and the people blindsided by the Selangor state government’s questionable concealment and lack of communication and transparency on the decision to degazette the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve.
This is unacceptable given the overwhelming opposition registered by various groups and communities during previous town hall meetings since the 29th of September 2020. In addition to the over 45,000 objections made by members of the public, there was also a unanimous vote passing Motion 26 on 11th of November 2020 during the Selangor State Assembly sitting, aimed at protecting all gazetted forest reserves in Selangor. The circumstances behind the decision is also questionable, given that the announcement only happened three months after it was made by the Selangor state government.
The Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR) is not a mere common piece of land; the 536.7 hectares of peat swamp forest that is planned to be developed into a mixed-development project, is a rare and diminishing forest type globally and an 8,000 year old forest, which means it is both equally invaluable and irreplaceable.
The reduction of the degazettement land size is by no means a consolation prize to the rakyat, the Temuan community, or the CSOs and NGOs tirelessly opposing this degazettement since early 2020. It is a slap in their faces.
Additionally, KLNFR is sacred ground to the indigenous Temuan community that has lived on the fringes of the forest for over 150 years, and is habitually utilised for customary practices and as a site for their ancestral burial ground. Taking away the land is an infringement on Temuan community’s rights to roam and use the land as they see fit. The act of displacing these communities is a blatant disregard of the United National Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), urging the Malaysian government to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples in law and in practice, in particular, regarding their right to traditional lands, territories and resources.
We ask the following questions: Why was this decision made in secret? Why was this decision even made at all when it was clear everyone that attended the town hall was opposed to this plan? Is the town hall just a smokescreen to distract and exhaust the NGOs, CSOs, and the rakyat in general before throwing this decision in our faces? We want these questions answered now, and publicly. Not 117 days later, behind closed doors.
We demand justice. We demand answers. We demand transparency. We demand accountability for a decision made without public knowledge.
Greenpeace Malaysia would like to remind policy makers that we are living in a climate emergency. Without healthy ecosystems of forests such as KLNFR, there would be no clean air to breathe, safe water to drink or food to eat. Disasters resulting from this climate crisis, exacerbated by the lack of forest protection, such as flooding, will add more burden to our healthcare system.
Nur Sakeenah Omar, Greenpeace Malaysia Public Engagement Campaigner, [email protected]
Yvonne Nathan, Greenpeace Malaysia Digital and Media Campaigner, [email protected]