LETTER | News of mining activities approved in the vicinity of Tasik Chini have further demonstrated the Pahang government’s lack of concern for environmental protection. This is but the latest scandal in a series of projects which show contempt for people and the environment:
1. Approval of the Lynas facilities in Gebeng, Kuantan without a proper plan on how to dispose of the radioactive waste;
2. Bauxite mining in Bukit Goh, Kuantan, which turned the area into a red-dust wasteland;
3. Approval of various development projects which harm the environment at Cameron Highlands and Fraser’s Hill while benefiting only the developers involved;
4. Approval of logging concessions in various environmentally sensitive areas throughout Pahang;
5. Pollution of rivers caused by mining and logging activities; and
6. Approval of the Telom Dam in Pos Lanai, Sg Koyan, Kuala Lipis which was later cancelled by the Pakatan Harapan government and now replaced with a proposal for more rare earth mining.
The vast powers accorded to the menteri besar (MB), director of the state’s Land & Mines Office and director of the state’s Forestry Department are problematic for the protection of the environment and for the interests of the people.
Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail, the MB for Pahang since 2018, made a U-turn on his promise to protect Tasik Chini.
On Nov 4, 2019, he made a public commitment during the International Forest Day to gazette 4,500 hectares as a permanent forest reserve in Tasik Chini and not to allow any mining activity in the vicinity of Tasik Chini.
The current proposed concession for mining in the vicinity of Tasik Chini has shown that Wan Rosdy has not kept his word.
Another alarming feature of this mining concession in the vicinity of Tasik Chini is the involvement of a company linked to the Pahang and Kelantan royalty. According to Malaysiakini, Hanishah Ventures Sdn Bhd has been given a concession of two years to extract manganese and other minerals through the project.
Apart from environmental degradation caused by mining in the vicinity of Tasik Chini, the ancestral land of about 800 Orang Asli from the Jakun and Semelai tribes will also be affected.
In 2020, these indigenous communities planned to sue the Pahang state government for the destruction of their ancestral land in the area.
Suaram calls on the Pahang state government to withdraw the mining concession to Hanishah Ventures Sdn Bhd.
The state government must try to raise revenue by other means instead of the same outdated methods of logging forests, mining and other environmentally damaging activities.
The writer is executive director, Suaram.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.