Today, alarming news filtered out of Selangor: 1,326 acres or 54% of the 2,300-acre Kuala Langat north forest reserve will be ‘developed’ – or rather destroyed. It would be given to a private company for ‘mixed commercial development’.
These 8,000-year-old forests had been gazetted as ‘permanent forest reserves’ – a misnomer if there ever was one.
The Selangor government has also reportedly “approved in principle” the proposed so-called “Petaling Jaya Dispersal Link”, a tolled (kar-ching!) highway, which apparently is not much different from the controversial Kidex plan.
These are terrible decisions by a state government that was elected on a reform platform. The leaders there are a major disappointment to all those who voted for change.
Such politicians obviously do not understand the onslaught of climate change and how our precious forest reserves must be preserved and not destroyed.
Also, why the urgency for a highway when many people are now working from home, a trend that could be here to stay even when the pandemic is over and that should be encouraged to ease congestion on the roads.
As there is now a lot of talk about the next generation of leaders, may I suggest a simple test to screen out those politicians and leaders (whether from Perikatan Nasional, Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Harapan) who fail to understand the pressing need for sustainable development, ecological protection and curbs on emissions.
At the next general election:
- Do not fall for politicians who love to indulge in mega-projects, eg unnecessary mega-dams, that bring few tangible benefits to the people and instead degrade the environment and destroy the biodiversity
- Do not vote for politicians who prioritise private motor vehicles and highways over sustainable mobility and public transport
- Do not vote for politicians who want to indulge in more massive land reclamation
- Do not vote for politicians who sacrifice our forests and hills in the name of ‘development’
- Reject politicians who sell off priceless natural assets for short-term gains
- Do not vote for politicians who show no interest in improving our public schools and public healthcare system
- Do not vote for politicians who seem more interested in high-end property development and neglect genuinely affordable housing
- Do not vote for politicians who fail to protect native customary land rights
Invariably big money is not far away (and it is not for the people). Watch out for crony companies.
Some politicians might argue that we need to open up new land because of ‘population pressure’.
Well, guess what? The total fertility rate (the number of children per couple) for the country has been falling. For instance, the rate in Selangor had fallen to just 1.6 children per couple in 2019. This is well below the population replacement rate of 2.1 children per couple.
Why not promote greater use of public transport and stop building more highways?
So why not repurpose existing buildings and use them? After all, there is a glut of high-end property and many businesses and factories have shut down.
So why do we need more highways and so many more large ‘mixed development’ projects?
Remember this at the next general election. Reject politicians who do not serve the public interest.