Wednesday October 10, 2012
Insiders leaking info to land-clearing culprits, says DO
By SIMON KHOO and ONG HAN SEAN
KUANTAN: The authorities are finding it hard to catch the people involved in clearing land illegally in Cameron Highlands because district office personnel are in cahoots with the culprits.
District officer Datuk Ahmad Daud made this startling admission when commenting on the rampant land clearing in the Blue Valley of the Cameron Highlands.
Ahmad said his officers had been monitoring land clearing and had conducted raids “whenever we receive reliable information” of such activity.
“However, we suspect someone from within is leaking information to the culprits, resulting in unsuccessful raids.
What made him all the more suspicious was that the culprits had “retrieved” four of the nine items of heavy machinery seized during a raid when no one was guarding the site.
“I will need to clean up my house in order before launching a full scale operation to nab those involved,” he added.
Ahmad was responding to The Star's front page report yesterday that land was being cleared rampantly in forest reserve areas in the Cameron Highlands, causing concern to residents.
The residents complained that their source of water was being affected and feared that the exposed slopes would suffer from erosion in bad weather, triggering a repeat of the August 2011 tragedy in which seven people died and several houses were destroyed in an Orang Asli settlement in Kampung Sungai Ruil.
Ahmad said he would organise a brainstorming session to come up with solutions to address the matter conclusively.
He said it was difficult to keep tabs on illegal activity because the culprits were believed to be carrying out their work at night and during weekends.
”It is not easy to just go in and nab them as we need to trek deep into the jungle,” he said.
In KUANTAN, Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob said no new temporary occupation licences (TOL) had been issued for development in the Cameron Highlands.
He added that the state government's policy was for old TOLs to be renewed and not for new licences to be issued.
“The duration for the TOLs has been extended to three years, which means TOL holders do not have to renew the licence every year like before,” Adnan said.
“So I just do not understand why some people are complaining that they cannot renew their TOL,” Adnan said after attending a dialogue session with federal department heads yesterday.
He also said the encroachment of state government land was “quite normal”, adding that he had asked the district office to act on the matter.