Isnin, 4 November 2013

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Sg Limau by-election: It's PAS with reduced majority

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 10:09 PM PST 

(The Malay Mail) - PAS managed to keep its hold on the farming constituency of Sungai Limau in Kedah state, but saw its vote majority slashed to a mere 1,084 votes in today's by-election.

The Islamist party's candidate, 37-year-old Mohd Azam Abdul Samat scored 12,069 votes, besting the Barisan Nasional's (BN) Dr Ahmad Sohaimi Lazim who drew 10,985 votes.

The seat fell vacant following the death of its five-term assemblyman Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak of PAS. 

Azizan was also Kedah menteri besar for a term after the 13-party BN coalition lost its grip on the northern state in the 2008 general election.

The PAS win, however, does not change the power composition in Kedah, which has returned to BN rule after falling to the three-party Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact for one term in 2008.

During the May 5 polls this year, a total 24,349 voters turned out and PAS had won with a comfortable 2,774-vote majority.

Many voters, of which 93 per cent are Malays, are still strong PAS supporters with a great respect for the late Azizan but PAS has voiced concern over the enormous amount of allocations being promised and the gifts being handed out in the last few days.

Though Dr Ahmad Sohaimi is a local, many villagers do not know him but Azam, as a protégé of Azizan, is rather well known so PAS may still lead in the polls today due to villagers' familiarity with Azam. 

PAS has also been agressively going from house-to-house, using the direct approach rather than just depending on various programmes and ceramahs, and this may work in their favour too as the rural folks preferred a representative who will go down on the ground to talk to them, listen to their issues and resolve their problems for them.

The Sungai Limau state constituency has 27,222 voters, 25,323 or 93.02 per cent of them Malays, 1,842 or 6.76 per cent Chinese, 15 or 0.055 per cent Indians and 42 or 0.15 per cent other races.

PAS retains Sg Limau, with smaller majority

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 08:07 PM PST

(The Sun Daily) - PAS candidate Mohd Azam Abd Samat has been announced the Sungai Limau assemblyman tonight after beating his competitor from Barisan Nasional Dr Ahmad Sohaimi Lazim in a straight fight, with a majority of 1,084 votes.

Mohd Azam, 37, garnered 12,069 votes while Ahmad Sohaimi 10,985 votes.

The EC said that voter turnout was 85.5% which is less compared to the 89% voter turnout in the 13th General Election in May.

In the previous election, former assemblyman, late Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak obtained 13,294 votes to beat rival Mohd Fazillah Mohd Ali from BN with a majority of 2,774 votes.

The by-election results was announced by the Election Commission returning officer Abdul Rashid Othman after the ballot count was completed at Sekolah Kebangsaan Agama Yan here at about 8.55pm.


Two PKR assemblymen become BN-friendly independents

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 06:41 PM PST

( - Kadamaian assemblyman Jeremmy Malajad announced that he has quit Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) to become a Barisan Nasional (BN)-friendly independent, reports Bernama.

Jeremmy, who was accompanied by 50 former Kadamaian PKR leaders, made the announcement at a press conference at the Kota Belud Rest House here today.

While Jeremmy was making this announcement, word is out that PKR's Matunggong assemblyman Jelani Hamdan will follow suit.

Jeremmy said he relinquished all his party posts, effective today, in line with Article 29.1.3 of the party constitution.

"As an assemblyman who was recently elected by the rakyat (people), I realise the high hopes of the constituents that I represent to see changes in development in our rural area, particularly with regard to provision of basic facilities like roads, clean water supply, health clinic and more which have become the current issue of concern of the community in Kadamaian," he said.

Jeremmy said he saw the BN government as being successful in tackling various issues in the state that were raised during the 13th General Election campaign including security and poverty, as well as in implementing the planned transformation programmes effectively.

He believed that the people in Sabah, particularly, were increasingly confident in the approaches and seriousness of the BN government, including appointing six leaders in Sabah as full ministers to the federal cabinet.

While stating his commitment to representing the constituents in Kadamaian, Jeremmy said he wanted to be directly involved in realising the various transformation programmes through politics, administration, economic generation and infrastructure development.

In the 13th General Election in May, Jeremmy won the Kadamaian state seat with a 889-vote majority in a four-cornered contest.

Threats don’t scare us, says Malaysian Bar

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 06:23 PM PST

The Malaysian Bar brushes aside a threat allegedly made by the Muslim Lawyers Association in regards to the Allah appeal.

(FMT) - The Malaysian Bar today said it was undeterred by threats or intimidation in its task to uphold justice, adding that it was bound to act without fear or favour, and without regard for its own interests.

Responding to a media report on Saturday in which the Muslim Lawyers Association had allegedly warned the Malaysian Bar not to back Christian publication The Herald in the Allah ruling, Bar president Christopher Leong said he was disappointed with the Muslim lawyers association.

"It is strange for an association of lawyers to fear arguments taken in a court of law and to impel them to issue threats. It leaves one to wonder what it is that they are afraid of," he said in a statement.

He stressed that the Malaysian Bar did not back any party, and that access to justice was for all who seek it.

"The Malaysian Bar and the Bar Council are secular bodies. We are not grounded in or partial to any religious belief. The Malaysian Bar does not stand for or against any party.

"The positions that we take are, and will always be, prescribed by the rule of law and premised on the Federal Constitution.

"We act for justice and truth and will not be swayed by partisan politics or religious belief. The Malaysian Bar will not be deterred in upholding the cause of justice by any threat or intimidation," he added.



Wanita Umno branch chief punched in the face

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 03:49 PM PST

(TMI) - Wanita Umno Bandar Baru Sentul (1C) chief Norsidah Abu Bakar was punched in the eye during a scuffle with a PAS supporter in Ulu Sedaka when she went to greet voters during the Sungai Limau by-election today.

The incident occurred when the 50-year-old refused to move away from the spot after being ordered to do so by several PAS members.

Norsidah, accompanied by Seputeh Wanita Umno chief Datuk Azizah Abdul Samad, lodged a police report.

Later at a press conference at the Yan district police headquarters, Kedah police chief Datuk Ahmad Ibrahim urged supporters from PAS and BN to adhere to instructions from the police and the Election Commission.

Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir expressed his frustration.

"This sort of provocation, whether by locals or outsiders, will affect the mood of the voters. BN will not to respond to such provocation. There is no need to," he said during a visit to a polling centre at Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Besar.


Sungai Limau: Mukhriz calls assault on Umno Wanita member regrettable

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 03:39 PM PST

(Bernama) - Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir regrets that an Umno Wanita member was allegedly assaulted during polling for the Sungai Limau state seat by-election.

"The effect of the alleged provocation whether by an outsider or people in the constituency is the same as it impacts negatively on Barisan Nasional voters.

"We won't respond in kind, no need to react. This stand needs great patience. PAS had loudly announced its peaceful political campaign and we had hoped it could be interpreted accordingly but the reverse occurred.

"We were not prejudiced, hoping the by-election will take place in a prudent and courteous atmosphere," he said at Pekan Simpang Tiga, Sungai Limau here today.

Seputeh Wanita Umno Division chief Datuk Azizah Abdul Samad today lodged a report at the Yan District Police Headquarters over the punching of a Batu Umno Division Wanita committee member Norsidah Abu Bakar allegedly by a PAS Youth member at Sekolah Ulu Sedaka.

Meanwhile, Mukhriz said PAS was still using intimidations to deter voters from coming out to vote.

"The situation became uncontrollable. Four, five incidents which took place could have been avoided but they still took place to invoke fear on the voters," he said.

He said another tactic used by PAS supporters was to go out in a big group and park their vehicles by the roadsides so that the place became congested to make it difficult for voters.

Mukhriz hoped police would taken immediate action to overcome traffic problems and prevent congestion.

Meanwhile, he told reporters at Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Besar near here today that there should not be any provocation in the by-election.

He urged voters to come out early to perform their duties.

Mukhriz had arrived at the voters checking centre near Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Besar at 10.50am.

He then stopped by at a food stall near Bukit Besar which was crowded with supporters of PAS. His presence was well received by them.

The Sungai Limau state seat by-election today saw a straight fight between Barisan Nasional candidate Dr Ahmad Sohaimi Lazim and Mohd Azam Abd Samat of PAS.


In Sungai Limau, Mukhriz claims pro-Pakatan crowds scaring away BN voters

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 03:37 PM PST

(MM) - Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir appeared today to accuse the opposition of orchestrating crowds of supporters to block voters from casting their ballots in Sungai Limau, even suggesting that traffic snarl could cost Barisan Nasional (BN) the state seat.

The first-term Kedah mentri besar who was part of the BN team that culled Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in the rice bowl state during Election 2013, alleged that the crowds, some of which had reportedly turned rowdy, were frightening away Sungai Limau voters from casting their ballots.

"I've heard reports of fights outside some polling centres earlier and that the roads to all polling centres are jammed, both of which are tactics used by the opposition to deter voters from casting their votes," he said in a brief press conference when he visited the BN Simpang Tiga operations centre here, just opposite the SJKC Aik Min polling centre.

He added that it was not surprising for the opposition to use such tactics to scare away voters, pointing out that if more were to turn up to vote, BN would have a higher chance of wresting the seat from PAS.

"I will advise our BN supporters not to react to the opposition's provocation but to be more patient as we hope for the peaceful political atmosphere here to continue even on this last day," he said.

He appeared to accuse PR of starting the skirmishes, even claiming that a PAS supporter had hit a female BN supporter outside one of the polling centres here.

"I had hoped for a peaceful polling day so it is disappointing that this is to happen today, which will negatively impact BN voters," he said.

He also urged the traffic police to take control of the traffic conditions so that voters can get to the polling centres.

"We hope more Sungai Limau voters will come out to vote as the more voters cast their votes, BN will have a higher chance of winning," he said.

As at 2pm, the Elections Commission spokesperson said a total of 18,843 or 69.22 per cent of voters have cast their votes.

Polling closes at 5pm and the EC expects to announce the results by 10pm.

BN's Dr Ahmad Sohaimi Lazim is going up against PAS' Mohd Azam Abdul Samat for the state seat which has been under PAS for five terms.

The seat was vacated after the former Kedah mentri besar Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak died on September 26. He had held the seat after winning it in 1995. 


‘PKR more than just Anwar’s party’

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 03:22 PM PST

In an exclusive interview, PKR leader Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad explains how PKR's purpose is beyond becoming a platform for Anwar Ibrahim to become prime minister.

Anisah Shukry, FMT

A party formed by Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in the aftermath of husband Anwar Ibrahim's 1998 fall from grace, PKR has had an uphill battle convincing voters that it's more than a vehicle of Anwar's vengeance towards BN.

Within 14 years of its inception, the party suffered through two disappointing elections, saw its "patron" freed from prison, and eventually, with the help of party allies PAS and DAP, dealt a near-fatal blow to Barisan Nasional in the 2013 elections.

Despite its immense growth, critics have accused it as being a "family party" – claims not helped by the fact that its president is Wan Azizah, its de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, and daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar is a vice-president.

But one of the party's youngest members and rising stars, Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, who was only 16 when Anwar was imprisoned, insists he was attracted to the party not because of the Anwar factor, but because of reformasi.

Reformasi was the rallying call of Anwar and his supporters after he was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998. It sparked several demonstrations against the BN government, before eventually dying down after he was arrested and jailed.

"I joined because I saw reformasi's potential for something that can capture the imagination of Malaysians for new politics that go beyond race and religion – about democracy, rule of law, transparency and all that," Nik Nazmi told FMT in an exclusive interview.

The young leader became active in PKR in 2001, while only 19-years-old, before becoming an official member in 2005. He eventually contested — and won — the Seri Setia state assembly seat in 2008, despite being the youngest candidate contesting in the elections. He retained his position in the recent May 5 polls.

"It's unfair to say that we are Anwar Ibrahim's party. Some people said in 1999 we were established for Anwar's release. But we still carried on (even after he was freed). If it was just going to be about Anwar's release then we would have closed shop."

He said this was why he believed many leaders had since left the party – because they were under the illusion that the party centred on Anwar's release from prison.

"But people like me, the reformasi generation, we got into the party because we believed that the party is about securing justice for all Malaysians," said Nik Nazmi, who has risen from the ranks to become the Selangor State Assembly Deputy Speaker.

Nik Nazmi was not apologetic over the fact that PKR's top positions was filled by Anwar's family, nor that Anwar was given the position of de facto leader.

The former PKR communications director reminded the public that Anwar was only made de facto leader after they learned he was not allowed to run for the party's presidency.

"We were under threat of being de-registered because he (Anwar Ibrahim)…had just been released from prison. A five year gap was needed, and the party elections was held before the five years were up," he explained.

"So the only way for him to lead the party was as de facto leader."

Nik Nazmi pointed out that Wan Azizah had won the party presidency "fair and square" since 1999 and her role in the party must be acknowledged. Similarly, Nurul Izzah garnered the highest number of votes when she contested the vice-president position.

"So I believe that if you ask anyone, many will say that Wan Azizah and Nurul Izzah have proven that they are politicians with their own strengths, appeal and merit," he said.



Sabah PKR defections: Blame Anwar

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 03:01 PM PST

A Sabah party assemblyman claims Anwar Ibrahim had promised to help finance their service centres but nothing has yet reached them.

Luke Rintod, FMT

PKR's de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim's unfulfilled promise to help financially the party's assemblymen in Sabah is believed to be the real reason behind the impending defection of two of its elected representatives.

The two assemblymen speculated to leave PKR this week are Matunggong's Jelani Hamdan and Kadamaian's Jeremmy Ukoh Malajad.

Local party insiders claimed that Sabah PKR might also lose two other assemblymen and its single MP soon, if the opposition party leaders reneged on the promise to give financial aids for representatives to operate their service centres.

A Sabah PKR assemblyman who declined to be named told FMT that Anwar had pledged, post general election, to help financially the party's elected representatives but thus far there's been no news.

The general election was in May.

"Soon after the general election, Anwar promised these assemblymen the party would chip in to kick-start the operation or service centres of Sabah assemblymen.

"Even Lajim Ukin (had since appointed to head Sabah PKR) talked of the same offer of help from PKR," the assemblyman said.

PKR is currently in control of the rich Selangor state in Peninsular, while its counterparts DAP and PAS control the states of Penang and Kelantan respectively.

According to the assemblyman, Sabah PKR leaders started to lose hope and confidence in the PKR leadership which they claimed is embroiled in its own internal bickering both at state and national levels.

"PKR itself has internal problems, not mentioning its difficult relationships with DAP and PAS.

"Anwar's promise to help sounded good but we have not seen any concrete help taking place and there is no sign it is going to be fulfilled, not until PKR assemblymen had left," added the assemblyman.



Sungai Limau polls a baptism of fire for Mukhriz Mahathir

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 10:38 AM PST 

(TMI) - A win, or even a dent to PAS's majority by Barisan Nasional (BN) in this Islamist party stronghold, will burnish the Kedah Menteri Besar's political credentials as a BN and Umno leader. 

Today's Sungai Limau by-election will be a baptism of fire for Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.

A win, or even a dent to PAS's majority by Barisan Nasional (BN) in this Islamist party stronghold, will burnish the Kedah Menteri Besar's political credentials as a BN and Umno leader.

This is especially so since the 49-year-old needs to overcome his recent defeat at the Umno polls where he narrowly lost his bid for the vice-presidency by 10 votes.

"If BN wins, it will definitely break the psychology barrier and Mukhriz will definitely be praised for it.

"Personally I think it is important for Mukhriz to ensure he can improve on BN's performance not only to boost his image as the MB, but to show something to his supporters, especially after his Umno defeat," UiTM Associate Professor Shaharuddin Badaruddin told The Malaysian Insider.

Voting began at 8am and the final results will be known by 9pm today.

Mukhriz had been working overtime to woo the 27,222 voters in Sungai Limau since the seat became vacant on September 26 following the death of former Kedah menteri besar Tan Sri Azizan Razak.

The Sungai Limau seat, located in the Jerai parliamentary constituency, is a PAS stronghold. The Islamist party has held it for five terms since 1995.

The son of former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad surprised and won the admiration of people, including his own team of advisers, by spending the night sleeping on the floor of a house belonging to a fisherman in Kampung Seberang Tandop. The village is well known for being a hardcore PAS area.

The soft-spoken Mukhriz had also pledged to be Sungai Limau's adopted assemblyman if BN wins this rural seat where the majority of its residents are paddy farmers and fishermen.

This was in line with PAS's slogan of "kekal" (retain), where the electorate of Sungai Limau were still diligently served by Azizan even after he was appointed as menteri besar after the 2008 general election.

Read more at: 

Cheap sugar and rice at BN carnivals in Sungai Limau a big worry to PAS

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 10:36 AM PST 

(TMI) - Perhaps it is due to the carnival response that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the Umno deputy president, expressed confidence that the BN candidate can win the by-election. 

Carnival-like programmes the Barisan Nasional organised in the final hours of the Sungai Limau by-election campaign have got PAS worrying over its chances of defending the seat.

The huge turnout at the carnivals, particularly in Bukit Besar, a PAS stronghold, has caused concern among the Islamist party's leadership.

"For sure our numbers show an increase in voter response but the response the BN programmes are getting is worrying," said PAS Research Centre chief executive Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, who has been in Sungai Limau since nomination day.

BN organised a shopping-like carnival in Bukit Besar, located 19km from Alor Star. It was packed as word spread that household essentials were sold well below market price.

And while the BN government recently removed a subsidy that caused the price of sugar to go up, a 1kg bag of sugar was only sold for RM1.00 at the carnival.

A 5kg bag of rice was sold for RM5. The sale of the cheap goods caused massive congestion as people in this constituency scrambled to get the items until 11.45pm yesterday.

The usual price of a 5kg bag of rice is between RM18 to RM20.

Read more at: 

More Guards With Fake IDs Nabbed In Less Than A Week

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 10:35 AM PST 

(The Sun Daily) - Authorities have in the past week detained five security guards in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor for using fake MyKad or identity cards belonging to other people. 

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said two of those nabbed have been charged in the Sepang magistrate's court for possession of fake MyKad and sentenced to six months' imprisonment.

More security guards who used fake identities were revealed after screening a total of 282 guards in a special operation mounted in Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur since Oct 29.

The screening operation, dubbed Ops ID, was launched in the wake of an incident where a bank officer was shot dead by a security guard who had secured employment using a fake MyKad.

Ahmad Zahid also warned the 751 security services companies registered with the Home Ministry to scrutinise their employees' identification documents.

"If the companies fail to do so, they will have to bear the consequences if any of their security guards are found to be using a fake MyKad or an identity card belonging to another person," said Ahmad Zahid, adding that Ops ID will continue.

"We will not hesitate to take immediate action.

"We will revoke the company's operating licence and its other workers will also lose their jobs," he warned.

Security services companies are only allowed by the government to hire Malaysians and Nepalese ex-soldiers to work as guards, Ahmad Zahid told newsmen after launching the My12 and MY18 programmes at SMK Sungai Limau here yesterday.

On the operation to track down the rogue security guard who shot Ambank officer Norazita Abu Talib at its USJ Sentral branch on Oct 23 , he said police believe the culprit is still in the country.

In a second incident, another security guard, who is also believed to have used a fake ID to gain employment, robbed a jewellery shop in Setapak that he was assigned to guard, and made off with 100 gold chains on Thursday.

However, police said two Filipinos – the guard and an accomplice – have since been arrested at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal in Sepang while trying to board a flight for Sabah at 7am yesterday.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Banking Employees (NUBE), voiced concern that banks which had been engaging the services of security company Kawalan Prima Sdn Bhd have been left "defenceless" as a result of the company's operating licence being revoked.

The company – which hired the guard who shot Norazita – had its licence revoked by the Home Ministry immediately after the incident and was ordered to surrender all its firearms to the police.

"This is ludicrous, as the safety of bank workers and customers will be compromised," NUBE secretary-general J. Solomon said.

Meanwhile, Norazita's husband, Irwan Kamarudin, today received a contribution of RM100,000 comprising RM45,599.02 raised by Kelab AmBank Group through a donation drive, RM2,000 from the club, RM10,000 from AmIslamic Bank and a personal contribution of RM42,400.98 from AmBank Group chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim.

The money was handed to Irwan by Azman during a tahlil ceremony held at the branch, which was attended and the bank's senior management and Norazita's colleagues.

Ambank said more money to be received under the group insurance policy totalling RM352,188.00 (RM149,652.00 from group term life insurance and RM202,536.00 from group personal accident insurance) will be paid to the late Norazita's estate later.

"AmBank Group deeply sympathises with and understands the pain and suffering of the deceased's family and all those who knew the late Norazita. We offer our deepest condolences and support for her family during this difficult time," said Azman. 

Living on high and deadly ground

Posted: 03 Nov 2013 10:34 AM PST!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_454/ximage.jpg.pagespeed.ic.X2MPp0o7j3.webp 

If tragedy happens, victims may not be able to get help

(NST) - CAMERON HIGHLANDS:  MORE than 30,000 people from Kampung Raja right up to Bertam Valley here are living on shaky ground.

Risk analysis obtained by the New Straits Times revealed that at least 17 moderate to densely-populated spots in the stretch were susceptible to landslides, due largely to uncontrolled and indiscriminate land clearing for agricultural activities.

Jalan Tapah-Cameron Highlands, Jalan Tringkap-Kampung Raja, Jalan Blue Valley-Lojing, Jalan Boh Estate Habu, Jalan Sultan Abu Bakar, Jalan Pecah Batu, Batu 33 Shum Yip Leong Estate, the spot behind Tringkap market and Jalan Tanah Rata-Ringlet are among those identified as high-risk zones.

Risk assessments carried out by the authorities also showed that the Trisu Orang Asli settlement, Jalan Tapah near the Perak-Pahang border and Jalan Sungai Palas to Mossy Forest, where the Telekom substation is, and all roads along the rivers here were among the outlying and interior areas that are prone to landslides.

If the unthinkable happens, sources said it would be virtually impossible for first responders to reach the victims in time as the areas would be effectively cut off.

Authorities had also identified threats of flooding and landslides in four densely-populated areas: Kampung Baru Lembah Bertam, Kampung Raja, Ringlet and Kuala Terla.

Recently, debris from land clearing and farming upstream, plus heavily-silted water released from the Sultan Abu Bakar hydroelectric dam, built in 1962, were believed to have caused mud floods that killed three people in Bertam Valley.

At least 80 homes and 100 vehicles were destroyed.

Two years ago, seven people, including a family of three, died in a landslide that hit Kampung Sungai Ruil near Brinchang.

The village is the single largest Orang Asli village in Cameron Highlands with 1,300 villagers.

There seems to be no stopping the farmers, particularly in Bertam Valley, from encroaching on forest land. Almost every nook and corner of the river reserves, and even the roadsides here, are planted with leafy greens. Step out of your vehicle and you'll see rows and rows of vegetables by your side!

Checks by the New Straits Times also showed clear signs of intensive cultivation atop slopes and forest lands going on unabated in nearby areas, including Ringlet.

At the ill-fated Bertam River where the mud flood occurred, hundreds of black plastic bags, farming equipment, not to mention piles of rubbish washed down by the deluge of mud, water, rocks, earth and debris, could be seen all over the riverbanks -- another sign of illegal and extended farming.

"There is nothing much we can do... just too many illegal farms here, especially in Bertam Valley," said Cameron Highlands Fire and Rescue Department chief Yusry Abdullah Sani at his office in Brinchang.

Land clearings, according to Yusry, who was transferred here in 2011, took place almost every day.

"Sometimes, we get several calls about fire on new parcels of land being cleared in one day. Our officers respond, put out the fire and return back to base. But these farmers or their workers will start burning again almost immediately.

 "Normally, if we return to the same site again, especially  on steep slopes, we will seize the equipment used to clear  land, like cangkul.

 "That is the best we can  do (to help stop illegal land clearings) but within a few weeks or one month, you can see a farm there."

As the department is involved in recommending licence applications for new premises, Yusry said those from farm owners which did not have a Certificate of Fitness (CF) would not be supported.

"We will recommend to the  agencies or departments not to approve those  applications."

Since most of the buildings, particularly in Bertam Valley, were heritage ones, they do not have CFs.

Yusry also said while search and rescue efforts for the victims of the recent mud flood had been called off,  small operations involving at least two officers were still  carried out.

"There are many illegal workers here. So, we cannot discount the possibility of more victims."

Regional Environment Awareness of Cameron Highlands (Reach) president R. Ramakrishnan  claimed that syndicates were prepared to "pay" RM50,000 to get  a  permit to clear land on steep slopes.

Of the sum, he alleged that RM30,000 would go to  officers from the district  land office while the remaining would be kept by the middlemen. He said he had sent a letter to Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission but there was no action.

Many of the slopes cleared had a gradient of more than 25 degrees, which posed a high risk of landslide and soil erosion, he said.
Pahang MACC director Moh Samsudin Yusof  said there had been no evidence of corruption involving the district and land officers.

"But we are keeping a close watch on all allegations."

Those with information  should come forward and furnish  MACC with details.  

Discovered in 1885 by British colonial government surveyor William Cameron, the highlands, with its highest point standing at 1,500m above sea level, was developed as a hill station in 1925. The cool mountain climate was found to be ideal for farming and large tracts of virgin jungles were cleared.



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