IPOH, Feb 16 — Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu should come clean on the forest farm development project at the Kledang Saiong and Bukit Kinta Forest Reserves, the state Umno said today amid contradictory claims by the state government and the Malaysia Timber Industry Board (MTIB).
Perak Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Saarani Mohamad said this following MTIB’s denial of Ahmad Faizal’s statement that MTIB was cooperating with the concessionnaire on the controversial project.
“It looks clear that the state is lying to the people,” he said.
Speaking to Malay Mail here today, the Kota Tampan assemblyman said Ahmad Faizal would not be in the soup if he had been upfront in the first place.
“After the approval letter from the Forestry Department on the project went viral on social media, the Mentri Besar got panicked and to convince the people, he had to weave a tale that the concessionaire was cooperating with MTIB,” he said.
“Now MTIB issued a statement denying it was cooperating with the company, it shows the state lied,” he added.
Saarani said the people could not be easily fooled.
“All information are readily available at the fingertips. You just need to search for it,” he said.
Saarani was responding to statement by MTIB chairman Wong Tack yesterday denying that the board was cooperating with the concessionaire.
Wong said the approval was given by the state government and that MTIB nor its subsidiary Forest Plantation Development Sdn Bhd (FFDSB) were involved in the matter.
Saying something fishy was happening, Saarani said if everything was in order, Pakatan Harapan (PH) lawmaker Thomas Su would not have lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
Saarani also questioned how did the company’s paid up capital suddenly increased from RM2 to RM500,000 following media scrutiny.
“If the company really had the financial capabilities it would not set up a RM2 company and bid for the concession two months after the 14th general election,” he added.
Saarani also pointed out the discrepancy when the Forestry Department gave its approval for the farming project.
“During Barisan Nasional’s time, if the project was meant for forest farming, MTIB was the agency to support and not the Forestry Department,” added Saarani, noting that Perak Umno would lodge an MACC report to get the commission to investigate the matter.
He also claimed that during BN’s administration, it would definitely not hand a project to an RM2 company with five months’ experience.
“We will conduct thorough checks on the company’s background including its experience before awarding projects to them,” he added.
Malay Mail previously reported Ahmad Faizal as saying that the company which had applied for the forest farming development project had been screened by the Forestry Department.
Ahmad Faizal said the company would be cooperating with the MTIB to develop the 400 hectares of land, which was identified as secondary forest.
The controversy erupted when Su lodged a report with MACC over the state government’s decision to award the concession to the then five-month-old company which initially had a paid-up capital of just RM2 when it was formed after the 14th general election.
The company now has RM500,000 paid up capital.