Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lojing : Nik Aziz’s colossal failure


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Let me start by asking you these questions. Does Islam encourage you to devastate the forests? Does Islam encourage you to wipe out your wildlife? Does Islam encourage you to fuck up minority communities (e.g. the Orang Asli)? Does Islam encourage you to venture into business without knowing head or tail of that business? Does Islam encourage you to repeat your mistakes, year in, year out for 20 years? Does Islam encourage you to close your eyes to the rape of your land?

The answer is obvious. Of course, Islam DOES NOT encourage you to do all these things. But I think the Kelantan MB Nik Aziz and his merrymen from PAS have a different understanding than the rest of us.

I first visited Lojing Highlands, Kelantan was in 1991. Nik Aziz was already the MB of Kelantan then. The area was a mess. Vast tracts of forest were being cleared to make way for agriculture. And these were pristine highland forests at elevations ranging from 500m – 1500m. Tens of thousands of hectares were given away to State government linked companies as well as friendly parties to develop highland agriculture.

The state government mantra then was “if the farmers in Cameron Highlands can do it, so can we”. The geniuses in Kelantan at that time thought they could replicate Cameron Highlands which at that time had a total 2000 hectares of agriculture land. They thought if 2000 hectares in CH can produce RM x million revenue, then opening 20,000 hectares in Lojing will produce RM 10x million.

They forgot something very important. The farmers in Cameron Highlands have had 50 years of farming experience in the highlands. Their farms were small, averaging 1 – 2 hectares. They were individual farmers who slogged their butts off for managing even a 2-hectare farm in the mountains was a major undertaking. No sane person will open up thousands of hectares in the highlands to do farming.

I returned to Lojing several times since. 1994, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2007 and 2011. Nothing has changed. Highland forests are continuously being opened up on large scale (obviously the geniuses in Kelantan have not learnt anything about highlands agriculture). Obviously, some people are making tonnes of money from the timber that is being ripped off from the so-called “agriculture land”. The rivers have silted up. Wildlife has disappeared. The Orang Asli communities are worse off than they were 20 years ago.


Hills being ripped off for so-called "agriculture"

Free teh tarik anyone? The once pristine Sg. Brooke  and Sg. Belatop are now just mud flows.

Logging is still widespread in Lojing. This is despite the national policy prohibiting logging at elevations above 1000m.


This is where teh tarik comes from. Land opened up for "agriculture" with almost no erosion control measures.

Most of the agriculture development in Lojing have failed. The companies benefitted from selling of the timber from the thousands of hectares of land given to them. The 1000-hectares Yakin tea plantation has been abandoned (yo, you dungus in Nik Aziz’s office – just because Boh can manage a tea plantation, does not mean that you also can. Boh is in that business. You are not. You just plundered that 1000 hectares). PKINK was given over 1000 hectare for orchards and agro-tourism – sampai sekarang habuk pun tak ade.Kayu balak dah lesap.

Land ownership in Lojing Highlands. I am sorry if you can't read the map. Almost 30,000 hectares have been given away to state-linked companies and state agencies and friendly companies over the past 20 years. Almost zero productivity expect for the timber that has been taken away. Mind you these are all highland country with mostly steep slopes.


A few Chinese farmers from Cameron Highlands who leased small areas from Kelantan state government linked companies are doing pretty well. Other than that, agriculture output from Lojing is minimal – despite it being more than 20 years since Nik Aziz and his merrymen opened and devastated Lojing. None of the state government linked companies and state agencies have produced anything substantial despite wiping out over 20,000 hectares of pristine highland forests Nothing. Kosong. Telor ayam. In every aspect, Lojing has been a disaster.

The environmental cost must be epic. The amount of erosion and sedimentation from Lojing must run into the hundreds of millions of tonnes over the past 20 years. The once gorgeous Sg. Brooke and its tributaries are now nothing but mud flows. An area that was rich in wildlife is now pretty pathetic. Great damage was inflicted onto the Orang Asli communities in Pos Brooke, Pos Hendrop and Pos Blau. All their water sources were destroyed. The forests that they depended for food and other produce were devastated. The orang asli traditional land were given to outsiders or usurped by state agencies.

If you think I am lying, I suggest you take a drive to Lojing. It is just an hour or less from Cameron Highlands. See the damages for yourself. The rape has been going on continuously for more than 20 years.

I would like to end my story by asking Nik Aziz this “Is this Islamic?”



p.s.
You may also like to read this blog (rubberforests) which has more stories about the rape of the forests in Kelantan.


5 comments:

mh said...

I counted 300 timber trucks on the Gua Musang road coming out of the Lojing area nearly 15 years ago. Still have the photographs....
Little point in condemning the decisions/actions that have lead to the present dire consequences. Perhaps we ought to consider instead how & what can be done to heal the Lojing scar of our apolitical MotherEarth in some truly creative ways.

CK said...

the way Kelantan is administered is an insult to Islam. Kelantan is now the poorest state in Malaysia, has the highest rape, incest and HIV cases. All the smart Kelantanese have left the state.

Lisa said...

Everybody did it. When I fly in Europe and look down on the landscape, there is not a single, not a single piece of land undeveloped. Not a single small hill. You can take off from Amsterdam and land in The Prague and you will not find it. I've been through this frustration on seeing how our land has been bled since the 90s and cried and wrote to newspapers, but I must say, and I'm sorry but it was pointless.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Your Royal Monyetness,
We have visited this place many times and still cry when we see the scars on Mother Earth. Will be there again next week, hopefully with better results as cooperation from the natives is quite difficult to obtain. purrrr....meow!

Persis Shanker said...

another reason why all the current bunch of politicians have to go....they are literally destroying our country for money. #truly disappointed and it really hurts to see such precious and irreplaceable forests going down for useless megaprojects that 3 or 4 years down the road aren't maintained or add any real value for the community or bring any benefit. that's the thing that makes me soooooo angry. :S