Saifuddin: Arrest of nine proof REE theft in Kedah still goinf on

KUALA LUMPUR: Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the latest police arrest involving a group of people for allegedly trespassing into a forest reserve in Kedah is proof that illegal exploration of rare earth elements (REE) minerals is still taking place in the state.

He was referring to nine people, including five foreigners, who were charged at the Baling Sessions Court yesterday, for trespassing into Rimba Teloi Forest Reserves in Sik on Sept 14.

In a social media posting on his Facebook, Saifuddin also confirmed that the investigation into illegal exploration activities of REE at the Bukit Enggang Forest Reserves, also in Sik, on June 21 was still on-going.

"Congratulations Kedah police! The investigation into the arrest made in June is still in the process of completion. It is still on-going.

"The latest arrest is proof that such illegal activities are still taking place (in the forest reserves). And those arrested have been prosecuted in the Courts. There are still those (who are still waiting to be charged in the courts).

"There are also elements of human trafficking and organised crime. Police will continue to investigate (all the criminal elements)," he wrote.

On whether there was any involvement of the state government or its agencies, he wrote: "Please be patient..."

Saifuddin also appeared to take a veiled-jab at Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, saing that he could not do anything to certain quarters who resorted to "denial syndrome" over the REE mineral theft issue.

"To those who chose to resort to 'denial syndrome', I am unable to do anything.

"I am a person who celebrates differences in opinions but not to those who resort to hurling insults and calling names," the posting said.

It was reported that Kedah police said the nine people charged at the Baling Sessions Court yesterday for trespassing into Rimba Teloi Forest Reserves in Sik on Sept 14, were involved in illegal exploration of REE minerals.

Kedah police chief Datuk Fisol Salleh had said the illegal REE exploration activities conducted by the group in Compartment 35 of the forest reserve had no ties to any corporate entities.

"It is understood that their operations have been active for the past four months based on our initial investigations and these activities are still in their early stages," he had said.

Saifuddin and Sanusi had previously engaged in a war of words over the issue when the former said the latter was "suffering from denial".

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