For the past 15 years, land clearing has continued unabated in Cameron Highlands but never before on such a large scale.
The residents of Cameron Highlands are now bearing the brunt of this massive environmental destruction.
Our drinking water supply is contaminated.
Our rivers are so toxic some of them are literally dead.
In almost all the villages stretching from Ringlet, Bertam Valley to Kampung Raja and Blue Valley, residents bordering these illegal land clearings are at a very real risk of landslides.
Officially land applications have been frozen for the last few years and no new temporary occupation licence (TOL) has been issued.
Yet, day after day, we see more illegal land clearing and open burning, some of them clearly visible from the road.
In Kampung Raja, most of the remaining hills surrounding the town are being cleared.
As late as last week, fire engines were called to extinguish "post-clearing" open burning.
Similarly in Kuala Terla, land clearing is taking place on the hill slopes above previous settlements, putting those on the lower slopes at risk.
The same scenario is played out in varying degrees at the other villages of Trinkap, Ringlet, Batu 33 and Bertam Valley.
Even the tourist towns of Kea Farm, Brinchang and Tanah Rata are not spared.
When land clearings are visible from the road, they usually occur in patches.
When land clearing is not visible from the road, whole hills are cleared.
In Manson Valley (even as I am writing this letter), large excavators are clearing virgin forests illegally.
These large excavators usually come in the dead of the night, before the long holidays, and will not come out from that area until their job is done.
Anyone who dares to complain is threatened.
Land clearings are also getting nearer to the more interior Orang Asli villages.
While the smaller patches are cleared by different perpetrators, the larger ones are usually cleared by the same few ‘towkays'.
There seems to be a sense of urgency for all these land grabs, as if the perpetrators want to get the jobs completed before September 2012.
Local residents are not amused.
In coffee shops and markets, locals will complain in anger at the obvious bribery and corruption involved.
"Do they think we are stupid and do not know what is going on?" is the oft-heard comment.
The names of the ‘givers' and the ‘takers' of bribery will be bandied around and it is always the same names over and over again.
By not enforcing the laws, not curbing corruption and turning a blind eye towards such blatant violation of the land, forest and environmental laws, the local authority and the state government are mocking the concerns of the local folk about the environmental health of Cameron Highlands.
We have had four district officers in three years.
The district office and state government are mocking the efforts of our young people who come up Cameron Highlands in increasing numbers for ecotourism activities.
The state government must not forget that the numbers of these young people, who are Internet-savvy and who are very aware of environmental issues, are growing.