Press Statement – Hold Public Inquiry on Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve

Press Statement – Hold Public Inquiry on Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve

11th July 2022: Shah Alam Community Forest Society’s (SACFS) response to Selangor forestry director, Datuk Ahmad Fadzil Abdul Majid’s statement on 9th July 2022 concerning the degazettement of the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve.

The Shah Alam Community Forest Society (SACFS) challenges the legality of the recent attempt to remove land from the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve. We feel that the state government is acting unlawfully in excising the land without prior notice, without a public inquiry and without any replacement area.

On 9 July 2022, Selangor forestry director, Datuk Ahmad Fadzil Abdul Majid, attempted to justify the notice issued on 5 May 2022. He said that this was done “after taking into consideration the comments from the Selangor State Legal Advisory Chamber”. However, SACFS rejects his explanations.

The land, covering 406.22 hectares, includes a wildlife corridor that we propose as a community forest (Shah Alam Commnity Forest). The forest here is still vibrant. Each weekend, thousands of hikers trek through the area. This forest is still home to endangered species of wildlife, including tapirs, gibbons and hornbills. We estimate that there are at least three tapirs, based on camera-trapping carried out in February.

Datuk Ahmad’s statement contradicts a claim by Selangor Environment Executive Councilor YB Hee Loy Sian on 24 September 2021. YB Hee claimed that the land had already been excised from the reserve in 2006. YB Hee refused to meet us to substantiate that claim. Now, it is clear that no excision was completed in 2006. YB Hee should apologise for misleading the public.

The latest move attempts to back-date the excision to 20 November 2000. Datuk Ahmad said that this backdating is due to various factors that had caused the process to have been put on hold. He added that no public inquiry had been held because the approval had taken place before the requirement for such inquiries came into force in 2011.

We find that this position is contradictory. If the excision process had been put on hold until this year, then the requirement for holding the public inquiry must still apply. Our lawyers advise us that there is no provision in the forestry law that allows the back-dating of excision notifications.

Furthermore, Datuk Ahmad did not address the legal requirement to replace the excised area. This requirement has been in the law since 1984.

Finally, SACFS highlights that the Selangor Menteri Besar, YAB Dato’ Seri Amirudin bin Shari, has a conflict of interest in regards to this matter. The land in question is being cleared for the Bandar Sierra Alam housing project by the state-owned Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor (PKNS).

Given this situation, SACFS calls on the Menteri Besar to halt the forest clearance. As required by law, a public inquiry should be held before the excision of the Bukit Cherakah forest reserve is completed.

Media inquiries may be directed to +6016 361 9148 (Dr Teckwyn Lim, SACFS Hon. Committee Member).

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