Saturday, 12 July 2008

Rethink logging, ricemilers urge

2008/07/02 New Straits Times, Malaysia

Rethink logging, ricemillers urge

By : Noor Adzman Baharuddin

Datuk Chew Giok Kun says the nation’s interests must always come first ALOR STAR: The Kedah Sino-Malay Ricemillers' Association has appealed to Menteri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak to reconsider his decision to log the Ulu Muda forest reserve.

Its president, Datuk Chew Giok Kun, said Azizan should hold discussions with the Federal Government before proceeding. "All parties should view the matter positively.

They should find the best way to tackle the problem and not find the easy way out since this involves Kedah's biggest water catchment area," he said Chew joins a chorus of concerned groups, including non-governmental organisations, which had condemned Azizan's decision to log in the water basin, about twice the size of Singapore.

However, Azizan remained defiant of protests, including from his Kelantan counterpart, Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, who is Pas spiritual leader.

He also drew the ire of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who said logging in the forest reserve would be catastrophic, especially at the Muda Dam, which supplies water for irrigation, industries and domestic use in Kedah, Penang and Perlis.Chew said he expected differences in opinion between the Pas-led state government and federal authorities over Azizan's plan.

"However, we must put the interests of padi farmers and our rice needs first before making any decision."We may think differently but we must agree on the same thing -- whatever is in the interest of the nation."

To date, Azizan has received only brickbats for his decision to log the timber, valued at about RM16 billion, to finance his administration's development programmes.Azizan had also said that he would continue the logging plan even if the Federal Government gave in to his RM100 million per annum request to spare the trees.