It is inconceivable that the Pahang government seems to be “rewarding” delinquent farmers who have been illegally clearing forest reserve areas in Cameron Highlands by deciding to give them TOL.
What it should rightly have done is to punish the culprits by getting them to replant all the areas that they had destroyed with trees so as to bring the highlands back to its former pristine glory.
This “rewarding” of the very people who have been destroying the area is in direct conflict with what the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had announced in late November of the seven-point plan to save the highlands from further destruction.
Yet, the Pahang state government has now seen fit to reward those who had destroyed the Highlands by giving them the TOL.
What guarantee is there that the state government or its various agencies including the district office can suddenly now be able to monitor what the farmers would be doing, something which they had failed to do before?
What it should have done is to identify all the culprits and get them to replant all the areas that they had destroyed. This is the least that it should be doing.
Action should also have been taken against the contractors who have encroached into government land and destroying the forest reserve at very high fees to enable the farmers illegally expand their farms.
All the culprits, whether the contractors, the companies including their directors and senior management as well as the individual culprits should have been blacklisted and driven out of the highlands with the proviso that they be made to replant the affected areas and then banned the culprits permanently from being there or staying and operating in the Highlands.
The identities of the delinquent contractors and companies, their directors and senior management as well as the individuals responsible for the destruction should be made known to all and sundry so that the people will know who are the culprits responsible for the destruction of the Highlands.
This is the least it should do to give the message to all that it is serious and will no longer tolerate any nonsense from anyone who carry out land clearing and farming that had or can destroy Cameron Highlands.
Such action should also be taken against culprits responsible for the destruction of any other areas in the country including the clearing of the Lojing forest in Ulu Kelantan that had contributed to the massive flooding in the state last month.
Shah Alam, Selangor