LETTER | The outburst of Dusun Tua assemblyperson Edry Faizal Eddy Yusof against a Selangor state exco within the ruling coalition could not have happened overnight.
Unless the voters, especially the Malays, are still solidly behind Pakatan Harapan (Harapan) in the coming state election, if this issue is not addressed immediately by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, the coalition runs into the risk of losing Selangor to the “green wave.”
This will be to the chagrin of urban supporters who vow that PAS should not be allowed to rule the nation, and losing Selangor would not go down well with Anwar’s government, which now has the support of Umno.
Risk of losing Selangor is very real
Harapan will be ending its third term in Selangor soon, but unlike its counterpart in Penang, it has failed to deliver the quality of service that is expected of the local government under its control.
Although Anwar realises this when he set up the Local Government and Development Ministry, efforts need to be stepped up not only at reforming the third tier of government which directly affects the lives of the people.
When it comes to Selangor, the current state government may have to be replaced with younger and more altruistic leaders before the next state election.
The current batch of state leadership, including its menteri besar no longer pay heed to the rumblings on the ground and instead, chides fellow state assemblypersons for being a “loose cannon.”
What may originally begin as courteous exchanges between the public and a member of the state leadership, for example, may soon turn into legal battles, with one NGO already suing the state government over the longstanding Bukit Cherakah issue.
Several letters through its solicitors seeking to meet with the Selangor state government to understand the legal status of Bukit Cherakah forest reserve, for example, failed to receive any response.
Selangor MB Amirudin Shari had promised to provide clarification on the Bukit Cherakah issue within a week from Sept 11, but he has failed to do so till today.
“Till now, we are still waiting for his explanation,” Dr Lim Teck Wyn, honorary treasurer of Shah Alam Community Forest Society had said.
This whole controversy revolves around five companies that were given over 600 hectares of forest reserve in Bukit Cherakah.
Two of the companies Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) and Permodalan Negeri Selangor Berhad (PNSB), of which Amiruddin is the chairperson.
The other companies have a paid-up capital of RM2 when they were awarded the land.
Amirudin has a history of degazetting forest reserve land and he had courted controversy.
In 2020, when the Selangor State Forestry Department (JPNS) announced the state government’s intention to degazette the majority of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR), Amirudin received brickbats from all over the country.
At the time, Anwar had instructed Amirudin to cancel the degazetting of the KLNFR, to which Amirudin failed to comply. The state assembly then rejected Amirudin's proposal to degazette the forests.
So, Edry’s sudden outburst is understandable. It is not surprising that the 37-year-old first-term state assemblyperson, who joined DAP in 2012, may have tried to engage with his fellow assemblyperson to work out an amicable solution, before taking it to the public domain.
In a Twitter post, Edry lambasted Selangor Tourism, Environment, Green Technology, and Orang Asli Affairs committee chairperson Hee Loy Sian openly, accusing him of being “unfair” in the way Hee handled the diversion of over a hundred 30-tonne load lorries, which will be using the Hulu Langat road on a daily basis.
Since Edry’s voice represents the genuine concerns felt by his constituents, silencing him would not do because Edry’s position would be jeopardised if he did not bring out the issue into the public domain.
Currently, there are only four quarries that are operating in Hulu Langat, but the moment the other quarries on 24 to 27 plots of land on Bukit Lagong are operational, the damage to the environment and the livelihood of people living in the area would be affected.
Selangor facing more issues with Bukit Lagong
The Bukit Lagong issue is a “time bomb” in Selangor due to the way both Amirudin and Hee handled the issues.
On Oct 30 last year, Selayang MP William Leong, who is also PKR treasurer, openly told Amirudin not to use “technicalities and disingenuous arguments” to avoid public scrutiny when dealing with the Bukit Lagong quarry licenses.
According to Leong, Hee had also irked NGOs and the public when he failed to address their concerns on the Bukit Lagong quarry operations comprehensively.
Leong’s demand for an explanation before the last general election was not heeded by Amirudin.
The same issue has also forced a former Otai Reformis and PKR loyalist, Abdul Razak Ismail to start a Green Party to contest in the coming state election, which led to his sacking by the party recently.
Razak, who earlier wrote to the state government under the Freedom of Information Act, asking for information about the quarry licenses was disappointed when he was told that the file is under the Official Secrets Act.
He later discovered that the licenses were issued to shell companies with paid-up capital as low as RM2.00, RM3.00, RM25.00 and RM100.00.
The licenses were also issued to the Menteri Besar Incorporated (MBI) and Cooperative of the Forestry Department, among others. Two of which former Selangor menteri besar Azmin Ali was also identified as a director in the companies that were issued the licenses.
Meanwhile, Razak’s complaint against the menteri besar has been transferred from Selangor MACC to Putrajaya.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.