SERI ISKANDAR, Feb 12 — The Perak state government awarded a newly-formed company 400 hectares (ha) of land concession over two forest reserves because it believed the RM2 company had the ability to do forest farming, Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said today.
The Perak mentri besar said all of the state government’s decisions were based on review by government departments, including the Forestry Department.
“After looking at the review, even though the company is new, but it has a connection with a big company.
“And two of the company’s directors has a vast experience in forest farming development. I did not know them personally, but looking at their background, I believe they can give a huge return to the state in the future,” he told reporters after attending the handing over of house key ceremony for the People Housing Programme (PPR) here.
DAP lawmaker Thomas Su yesterday questioned the state government for awarding a 400-hectare land concession to a five-month-old company with a paid-up capital of just RM2 that was formed after the 14th general election.
The Kampar MP said the company was understood to have been awarded concession of two forest reserves, namely Kledang Saiong and Bukit Kinta, for the purpose of forest farm development.
Su also said he was tipped off on the matter after the approval letter from the Perak Forestry Department became viral on social media.
Ahmad Faizal said the company which had applied for the forest farming development had already screened by the Forestry Department.
“It’s a normal procedure. When the name of the company was brought to the meeting, it means that they have passed the eligibility terms for the state government to decide whether to give them the approval,” he explained.
Ahmad Faizal said the company will be cooperating with the Malaysian Timber Industry Board to develop the 400 ha of land, which was identified as secondary forest.
“The trees in the area could not produce any revenue for the state. Thus, we have to do replanting to get the revenue for the state.
“Sanctioning land from secondary forest for forest farming development is not something new. The previous government had also done the same,” he added.
Secondary forest is a forest which has regrown after a timber harvest, until a long enough period has passed so that the effects of the disturbance are no longer evident.
Ahmad Faizal also said the allocated land did not have any timber and it is not the same with the one which was illegally encroached near Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve.
“The Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve is a huge area. The illegal encroachment near the Kledang Hill is not in the 400 ha of land. Both are two different places,” he said.
Ahmad Faizal also said that he will give full cooperation and welcomed the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to conduct a thorough investigation on this matter.
On February 6, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) raised an alarm of suspicious land clearing activities at Kledang Hill that is part of the Kledang-Saiong Forest Reserve.
Perak Forestry Department director Datuk Mohamed Zin Yusop had said that the Mentri Besar Incorporated (MB Inc) owned the parcel and it has been degazetted as part of the forest reserve.
Mentri Besar Incorporated (MB Inc) chief executive officer Anuar Zainal Abidin later confirmed that the land clearing near the iconic Kledang hill was indeed illegal encroachment for the purpose of oil palm plantation.