The Coalition for the Protection of Selangor’s Forests demands that the
de-gazettement process for the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve be suspended due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The current Movement Control Order (MCO) and the suspending of activities by NGOs by the
Registrar of Societies has made it impossible to have any proper assessment of impacts or dialogue on the proposed de-gazettement.
Amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the announcement of the MCO on 16 March 2020, the Coalition feels that the Selangor Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari’s announcement at the Selangor State Legislative
Assembly sitting on 17 March 2020 that the state government would soon conduct a public hearing session for the proposed de-gazettement , is inappropriate.
Leela Panikkar from Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES) and coordinator of the Coalition said, “The Registrar of Societies (RoS) on 16th March 2020, banned all societies from holding any activity until the end of
June to curb the spread of Covid-19. The Department of Orang Asli Development (JAKOA) on the same day, suspended visits to Orang Asli villages in the Peninsula. This has made it impossible for any dialogue and assessment of the importance of the forest reserve to the Orang Asli to take place. In addition, with the enforcement of the MCO on 18th March and its extension till 14 April, stakeholders are unable to consult and prepare for the public inquiry”.
“With the banning of public gatherings related to the COVID-19 pandemic it is also not appropriate for the state to try and convene a public inquiry to which the Orang Asli communities and the more than 40,000 people who made objections, must be invited”, said Faizal Parish of GEC, another member of the Coalition.
We, therefore, call for the proposed Public Inquiry and any other steps in the process to consider degazettement to be postponed till after July 2020.”
Hence, the Coalition for the Protection of Selangor’s Forests strongly calls upon the Selangor State Government to formally suspend the de-gazettement process and to focus on the more important issues at
hand; combatting the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the multiple impacts on the people and the local economy.