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Will the Perak MB be removed?

  • Will Mahathir remove the MB before the people of Perak demand a more competent candidate?

By Mariam Mokhtar

Ahmad Faizal Azumu, the Mentri Besar of Perak's last gaffe was one too many. His statement, that there was no such thing as Orang Asli (OA) "tanah adat" was the last straw.

He holds the highest office in Perak, and has access to some of the best legal brains in the state. He can call upon the Attorney-General's office to sort out a technical matter; however, the statements issued from his office, suggest that he is either surrounded by "yes-men", or that he knows best and has ignored his advisers.

From the time he entered office, in May 2018, his tenure has been plagued by ridicule and inconsistency.

His lack of stern action, to punish some Muslim NGOs who stormed into a grocery store, in Manjoi, to demand the removal of the bottles of alcohol, alarmed many businessmen, even bookshop owners, Many wondered if these thugs might descend on their shops and scare away their customers.

Despite claiming that the state was short of money, Ahmad Faizal was able to buy 16 new Toyota Camrys for his state cabinet members. A group of vegetable farmers in Chemor, were told to vacate their plots which were situated on state land, because the MB had awarded the land to the Perak football team, which had beaten Terengganu, in 2018.

Last week, the MB rolled out a program to provide jobs for the retired and the elderly. He said they could work as nannies, but many grandparents already look after their own grandchildren. He said they could be market gardeners, but most people live in apartment blocks. He ignored the hundreds of thousands of younger Perakians, who have sought work in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Many have also fled overseas because the local government does not know how to attract investors and retain the best workers.

The star tourist attraction of Perak is its natural beauty, from the limestone hills to the seas and jungles. Despite this, the state issues quarrying permits to blast the rocks and flatten the hills. Many important cave systems have been destroyed to provide materials for the cement industry.

The mining of sand from the seas off the coast of Perak will add to coastal erosion and threaten the fish, crustacea and turtle breeding areas. The fishermen have voiced their alarm. but their environmental concerns have been ignored.

We regularly read in the papers, that the jungles are cleared for monoculture. Tourists come to enjoy our rich diversity of plant and animal life, but our industries like logging and mining pollute rivers and waterways. The MB appears to have ignored all these important considerations.

Recently, the Perak chapter of Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) expressed alarm that the state had issued permits to two companies to clear an environmentally sensitive area in the jungles of northern Perak. The jungle will be logged before it is replanted with rubber.

The previous week, a tiger was caught in Terengganu, looking dazed and disorientated. The beast was suffering from canine distemper, and was transported to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre (NWRC) in Sungkai, in Perak, to be nursed back to health, before its release into the jungle. Sadly, the tiger died the following day.

When man encroaches into the jungle and clears the forest to practise monoculture, which is the planting of just one type of crop, such as oil palm or rubber, animals will die. At best, the animals, which thrive on the small animals and the lush vegetation, will migrate deeper into the jungle. The larger animals, like tigers and elephants then have to share the small space with other displaced animals. When there is too little space for the animals, they forage in farmers' orchards and kill the goats or chickens, or damage crops, in their smallholding.

It is not just animals which suffer from the clearing of the rainforest. The OA, the true bumiputra, have found that their ancestral lands have been invaded by people who are alien to their beliefs and customs.

When the MB dismissed the rights of the OA to their ancestral land, he showed his ignorance of the laws of the land.

A good leader shows compassion and has the ability to uphold the rights of the most marginalized community.

Will Mahathir remove the MB before the Perak people demand a more competent Harapan candidate?

Sources:

Malay Mail: Dungun’s ‘friendly’ tiger Awang Besul dies of canine distemper
Free Malaysia Today: ‘Adat’ land not in state constitution, says Perak MB
The Star: Farmers told to clear out after Perak govt gifts land to football team
The Star: Encroaching on forest reserve land
Free Malaysia Today: Environs group attacks Perak govt for quarries in forest reserve
MalaysiaKini: Perak MB should strike, instead of pussyfooting around
The Star: No such thing as Orang Asli ancestral land in Perak, says MB
New Straits Times: Sungai Raja Hitam falls under Class Four, needs extensive treatment
The Star: Perak govt gets flak for buying 16 new Toyota Camrys for state Cabinet members

(Mariam Mokhtar is a Freelance Writer.)

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