Thursday, 21 August 2008

MB: Logging plan is on

2008/08/21 New Straits Times, Malaysia

MB: Logging plan is on

By Noor Adzman

ALOR STAR: Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak remains adamant about cutting down trees in the Ulu Muda forest reserve to pay for the state's development programmes.

He said yesterday that while he was open to criticism on his proposal to log valuable timber trees, estimated at RM16 billion, others, too, should consider the state's intentions.

"I hear what they have to say but I hope they will also hear us out on our intentions," he said after chairing the weekly state executive council meeting.Azizan was asked to comment on Derga state assemblyman Dr Cheah Soon Hai's recent call for the forest reserve, which is nearly twice the size of Singapore, to be turned into a national park.

Dr Cheah was the latest to flay the state government's decision to log timber at the water catchment area, which is an invaluable source of water supply for industrial, agricultural and domestic use in Kedah, Penang and Perlis.

He described the forest reserve as a repository of biodiversity which could be a major source of income for the state.Others critical of Azizan's logging plan included Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and more than 15 environmental groups, led by Sahabat Alam Malaysia.Azizan said experts in various fields, including environment and drainage, would be consulted before logging was carried out.

"We have a right to decide on the matter and when the time comes, we will log the forest."Azizan also said the state would contribute RM250,000 to the Kedah Chinese Assembly Hall to host the Malaysian Chinese Cultural Show later this year."I have received several calls from certain segments of the Chinese community here for the allocation to be spent on education and other activities."However, we have decided to contribute to the Chinese assembly hall to help them organise the cultural show."