LETTER | Fifty-three civil society organisations (CSOs) have come together to issue a statement initiated by BEACCH (Biodiversity, Environment, Agroecology, Climate Change, and Habitat), the environmental cluster of the CSO Platform for Reform in Malaysia to urge the Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari to immediately revoke the degazettement of the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve based on a decision made over 22 years ago by the then Barisan Nasional government.
A gazette notification (Gazette No. 1645) dated May 5, 2022, announced that the state had excised 406.22ha from the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve, Shah Alam, based on a decision by the Selangor State Executive Council on Nov 20, 2000.
The excision of the said forest reserve was done under Section 11 of Selangor’s National Forestry Act (Adoption) Enactment 1985 (Selangor NFA 1985).
According to a recent statement by the Selangor Forestry Department, the exercise was conducted to complete a process that purportedly began in 2000, with the current state government taking an appropriate role in resolving matters delayed for over two decades.
Why it took them over two decades remains a mystery.
Furthermore, in excising the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve, the state has also failed to comply with Section 12 of the Selangor NFA 1985, where they should have provided replacement land of the same size as the excised area as a permanent reserved forest.
In addition to this, the Selangor government had amended their forestry enactment in 2011 to provide for mandatory public inquiries prior to any excision of forest reserves. This is provided for under the Selangor Public Inquiry (Selangor) Rules 2014.
The current state government under Pakatan Harapan should have held the mandatory public inquiry before the excision, but they clearly did not, making the excision all the more unlawful.
The final decision on the excision of any forest reserve following the public inquiry must be made by the state legislative assembly. This step will allow for all key facts to be revealed. Ultimately, the people’s representatives can debate and decide on the matter publicly.
Bukit Cherakah was created in 1909 and is popular with nature lovers, hikers and tourists. The forest reserve is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including Tapirs, White-Handed Gibbons, and Hornbills, as well as over 450 species of plants.
While the steep hills are great for a challenging hike and eco-tourism, it is not appropriate for development which would cause soil erosion and landslides. The increased siltation may also contribute to flash floods downstream, as evidenced by prior flash flood incidents plaguing the country, including the recent Baling flood tragedy and the devastating floods of December 2021.
Taking a leaf from all the recent tragic events and the worsening climate, the state government should do the right thing and revoke this degazettement.
The excision does not benefit the general public or the environment, especially when the Selangor state government intends to keep at least 30 percent of its forest reserves, as stated in the Selangor Structure Plan 2035.
All fifty-three CSOs, including BEACCH, demand that the Selangor state government follows due legal process and revoke the said gazette immediately.
This statement is endorsed by:
1. BEACCH, environmental cluster of the CSO Platform for Reform
2. A Little Wild
3. Agora Society Malaysia
5. Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia
6. Centre for Independent Journalism
7. Childline Foundation
8. Ekar Lui
9. Engage Network
10. Engineers without Borders Malaysia
11. Environmental Protection Society Malaysia
12. Five Arts Centre
13. Friends of Bukit Kiara
14. Friends of Klang River Basin
15. Fuze Ecoteer Outdoor Adventures Sdn Bhd
16. G25 Malaysia
17. Gerakan Belia Sepunjabi Malaysia
18. Greenpeace Malaysia
19. Jaringan Ekologi Dan Iklim
20. Justice for Sisters
21. Klima Action Malaysia
22. Ladato Si Ministry, Church of Divine Mercy
23. Malaysian Nature Society, Selangor Branch
24. Malaysian Nature Society, Pahang Branch
25. Malaysian Primatological Society
27. Penang Forum
28. Penang Hills Watch
29. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia
30. Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam
Persatuan Penduduk Laman Gahal (PELAGA)
32. Persatuan Rimba Komuniti Shah Alam
33. Persatuan Sahabat Rimba Bukit Cherakah (Friends of Bukit Cherakah)
34. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
35. Persatuan Tindakan Alam Sekitar Kuala Langat
36. Pertubuhan Alam Sekitar Sejahtera Malaysia - Grass Malaysia
37. Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam
38. Pertubuhan Rangkaian Pembangunan Kesinambungan Malaysia
39. Rimba Disclosure Project
40. Sahabat Alam Malaysia - Friends of the Earth
41. Save Rivers
42. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia
45. Taman Melawati Residents Association
46. Terabai Kenyalang Heritage Association of Sarawak
47. Treat Every Environment Special Sdn Bhd
48. Ulu Permaculture LLP
50. Wetlands International
51. Wildlife Research Grou
52. Youths United for Earth
53. Zero Waste Sabah
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