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KUANTAN, Jan 16 — The three-month moratorium for bauxite activities went into effect as planned at midnight with enforcement personnel keeping a close watch for anyone who did not adhere to it.
Checks by Malay Mail at several checkpoints, including at Bukit Pengorak, Kampung Padang and the Sirim building in Gebeng, found the roads devoid of traffic.
Among the personnel stationed were police, Road and Transport Department officers and Rela members.
“We didn’t expect trouble as the miners know we mean business,” said a policeman with a submachine gun slung on his shoulder.
“They have cleared off and will probably lay low until the moratorium expires.”
An officer, who declined to be named, said the operation was meant to be a show of force as the miners had disappeared in the hours leading up to midnight.
“Our information shows they have complied. Even if they carry out mining, they will not be able to export it as no more Approve Permits are issued,” the officer said.
“Besides, the risk would be too high and the profit wouldn’t justify that risk. Bauxite needs to be sold in huge quantities to be profitable.”
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar had declared a three-month moratorium on all bauxite-related activities after the waters off Kuantan turned red due to severe contamination of bauxite last month.
Malay Mail early yesterday morning also saw several lorries speeding down the highway between Balok and the Kuantan port. The port, where the central stockpile has been placed for export, was a hive of activity with port authorities given a week from yesterday to clear the ore.
Numerous bulk carriers were observed being filled with ore in a rush to clear the remaining stockpile.
Pahang Persatuan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) chairman Khaidir Ahmad said he was satisfied with the moratorium’s initial implementation and thanked the government for taking heed of the people’s grievances.
Peka, with a coalition of 25 non-governmental organisations, would keep close watch to ensure the moratorium was not broken, he added.
“It must not return to ‘business as usual’.”