Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tasik Chini in Peril

The ecosystem of Malaysia’s only UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Tasik Chini is on the verge of collapse due to wanton mining, logging and plantation activities. Many environmentalists feel that if development around the second largest freshwater lake in the country is not halted, it will turn into a swamp in less than 20 years.

The Tasik Chini indigenous community is so alarmed and worried that Awang Alok, Kampung Gumum Tok Batin (village chief) who leads the Kampung Gumum Orang Asli action committee even threatened Pahang Menteri Besar Adnan Yaakob that if the state government does not attempt to save Tasik Chini, it would cost the BN their votes in the coming general election.

An act of desperation. We shouldn’t threaten unless it is from a position of strength! There are five Orang Asli villages closest to Tasik Chini, which is part of Najib Razak’s parliamentary constituency of Pekan and they contribute some 130 votes, according to Malaysiakini. Najib won by an overwhelming majority of 26,464 votes against a PKR candidate in the last polls. So, why should Najib fear a mere 130 votes? This Awang fellow is pitiful lah!

The community had already highlighted this issue in a memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister on April 10. 2012 but no reply had been forthcoming. Should I be surprised?

And it is self-serving and selfish of Senator Mohamad Olian Abdullah, who represents the Orang Asli community, to claim that the natives living around Tasik Chini “cannot expect to stay on the land forever and must accept development” (The Edge, Malaysia, August 22, 2012).

In Pahang, it is greed that is behind the promotion of economic interests. Consider Bukit Koman. And Lynas. It is sad that Tasik Chini is also becoming a victim of commercial pursuit that prevails over the preservation of an environmental heritage.

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