Green group seeks out Anwar’s aid to save Shah Alam forest, claims snubbed by Selangor MB

·2-min read
Malay Mail
Malay Mail

SHAH ALAM, June 16 ― A group of 10 nature lovers made heads turn at the Ideal Convention Centre (IDCC) this morning on the second day of the 16th PKR national congress as they held up a bright yellow banner calling to “Save Shah Alam Community Forest ” and printed placards, some hand painted, with similar messages.

They had arrived at about 8.30am and had been standing around waiting to meet PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to enlist his help to protect the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve near the state capital here.

Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, who is also attending the PKR congress as the state party chief, had passed by earlier but the group calling itself the Shah Alam Community Forest Society (SACF) did not approach him.

“We tried to engage with the Selangor MB, but he refused to have any sort of discussion, so that’s why we went straight to his party president.

“We just needed 30 seconds to hand over the memorandum but we were told that he can’t meet us for now,” SACF secretary Alicia Teoh told Malay Mail, referring to Anwar.

The group was scheduled to hand over their memorandum of demands to Anwar at the convention centre’s main entrance at 8.45am.

They saw his escorts pass by and chased it on foot up to the floor above, but failed to catch up. The group then parked themselves right outside the hall where Anwar expected to address the PKR delegates, continuing their peaceful demonstration.

But they they were then approached by one of the party officials on duty and advised to wait a little further away so as to not impede PKR delegates entering the hall, which they complied with.

The environmental activists said they just wanted to get Anwar’s attention on what they claimed was an unlawful degazettement of Bukit Cherakah as a forest reserve since he is the Parliamentary Opposition leader and a federal lawmaker.

After about 45 minutes of waiting, the SACF demonstrators decided to leave the convention centre after passing their demands to one of Anwar’s staff.

“We settled with handing the memorandum to one of his staff and were promised to have a separate meeting with Anwar,” Teoh told Malay Mail.

The demonstrators are upset about a development project near the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve and Shah Alam Community Forest, which is not within the designated Permanent Forest Reserve.

The Selangor government has come under fire from residents and environmental groups for degazetting part of the forest reserve.

Last year, Selangor state executive councillor Hee Loy Sian, in charge of tourism, environment, green technology and Orang Asli affairs, explained that part of the contentious land was degazetted in 2007 ― before PKR and its allies took over administration of the state ― and has since been regazetted as additional land under the Bukit Cherakah Forest Reserve with an area of 982.80 hectares.

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