Are you surprised by the floods in the East Coast and Sarawak? Don’t be. Apart from climate change resulting in almost double the rainfall in December in the East Coast, the extent of deforestation is breathtaking in its sheer audacity.
Take a look at the video above and the photograph in the front page of theSun, reproduced below:
It is no good pointing fingers only at the Kelantan state government, which has been fighting for a share of oil royalty to boost its revenue, instead of having to rely on logging as a source of revenue. Last September, the federal government announced that the Kelantan state oil royalty was expected to be disbursed equally between the Federal Development Department (JPP) and the Kelantan Islamic Council (Maik). Why is the royalty to be given to these particular agencies and not the state government, elected by the people?
And we all know about the rapacious greed behind the deforestation in Sarawak. Nothing new there. Just check out Lukas Strauuman’s book Money Logging: On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia. (Taib Mahmud’s lawyers are reportedly trying to block the book from being distributed.) Would theSun care to put some images of the deforestation in Sarawak on its front page?
Alarmed by the vanishing forests, environmentalists and the natives have been shouting themselves hoarse for donkeys years. But their voices have been drowned out by the roar of bulldozers and chainsaws mercilessly mowing down entire forests while politicians looked the other way.
The timber tycoons, the plantation bosses, the middlemen, the proxies and their partners reaped fat profits while the poor flood victims have now lost almost everything.
This is not going to help Malaysia’s wide income inequality.
Now the chickens have come home to roost, haven’t they? And the nation pays the price through huge amounts of flood relief and rebuilding at a time when federal government finances can least afford it. The GST is then imposed and subsidies removed – but even that may not be enough to save the day.
In the end, the ordinary people pay the price while a small minority laugh their way to the bank, stashing away their timber profits. Some people have grown fabulously wealthy indeed.