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THE Pertahankan Hutan Simpan Kuala Langat Utara (PHSKLU) Coalition welcomes the decision of the Selangor state government to revoke the degazettement of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR). At the same time, we urge the state government to promptly expedite the re-gazettement of KLNFR and enhance community management of the forest, as well as address the challenges facing the local Orang Asli community.
We thank the hundreds of thousands of people from Selangor and all over Malaysia who supported the campaign to protect the KLNFR over the past 18 months – through objection letters, petitions, and social media campaigning – as well as the many civil society organisations, research institutions, government agencies and private sector actors that have given their support towards this process.
We also thank the national PKR leadership for their intervention, the state assemblymen of Selangor for passing Motion (Usul) No. 26 last November to protect all forests in Selangor, the federal ministers and agencies for their strong comments, the special effort of Kg Orang Asli Busut Baru to resist pressure and stand up for their rights, and the Selangor Menteri Besar and Selangor State Executive Council (exco) for listening to the people.
We also recognise the important role played by the local media in their extensive coverage of the issue over the past 18 months, including more than 200 articles and interviews in various languages. This is a testament to the potential of the fourth estate in educating and raising awareness on indigenous rights and environmental issues among the public.
At the same time, we remain concerned with how the state government had fast-tracked measures to benefit external parties through offering the land for development, while the local Orang Asli communities living around KLNFR have yet to receive basic support and services.
Despite living in the area for at least 130 years, they have no control or surety over their land and have been regularly threatened with eviction; they had their graveyards bulldozed and their plantations dug up for sand mining, while receiving little support for their livelihood and welfare. While the state had rushed the forest degazettement within a year, none of the villages have been gazetted as Orang Asli reserves, despite 10 years of promises by the government.
We are also concerned that, in the statement released by the Menteri Besar on September 8, the state is planning to retain a portion of this precious forest for the proposed development of the East Coast Railway Line (ECRL) project – despite the decision by the federal government to re-route the line 50km towards the north. In addition, the earlier alignment was several kilometres away from the degazetted forest, making it no longer appropriate to retain any land for the ECRL development project.
We call for the following urgent actions.