Environment minister seeks bigger budget for Perhutanan and Perhilitan, says getting too costly to protect forests and Orang Asli

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

PETALING JAYA, Aug 26 — Minister of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad today promised to find ways to streamline the Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department (Perhutanan) and the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) so they can both work seamlessly without conflict in the future.

The minister also promised to raise all Orang Asli issues in Parliament ahead of the Budget 2024 tabling in October to address the multiple problems faced by the indigenous tribes in the peninsula.

“I promise to bring this Perhilitan and Perhutanan lack of cohesion issue as well as all the matters you brought up today to the ministries and in Parliament so that we can ease the tension and implement laws that are beneficial for all parties.

“I have already raised the financial issue to the Ministry of Finance and I will be meeting them in two weeks time to talk about the upcoming budget tabling. I want to ask for a bigger budget as it is getting more costly to handle and fix issues that surround our forests and the Orang Asli community,” he said at the 12th Orang Asli Land Conference held at the Armada Hotel here.

“I hope with the upcoming discussion we can find a way to give the Orang Asli who have suffered from encroachment, illegal logging and loss of produce so they can sustain themselves while also protecting the forest which is the source of their livelihood,” he told the near 200 participants.

At the forum, Nik Nazmi was also asked about the loss of Orang Asli land reserve; many participants felt the state governments were selling plots of their land to developers without proper permission and authority.

Some of the participants related their experience, and claimed that government agencies did nothing to prevent large companies from destroying their native lands.

They also voiced their helplessness that no one in authority was there to help them or halt these illegal developments.

The participants said they were not only losing their lands, but wildlife in the area had either died or fled while the remaining fauna were found starving due to lack of food or that their habitat had been razed to the ground.

Nik Nazmi sought to assure the participants that he would find ways to resolve their concerns.

“The general rule for land reserves is for the Orang Asli. So since this is an issue we are bringing it to the Orang Asli Development Department and the state governments and the National Land Council, which is chaired by the prime minister.

“We will get all the heads of state together with the prime minister and so we can discuss this matter holistically and come up with solutions,” the minister said.

Nik Nazmi had previously said the government is working on a new policy to provide compensation for those who live near forests and whose livelihoods had been damaged by the local wildlife.

He said the new policy is necessary as cases of human-wildlife conflict were expected to keep rising.

He said he was worried that those affected may take matters into their own hands to deal with or harm the animals that caused the damage hence by compensating them he hoped to mitigate some of the problems they're facing in the short-term.