Putrajaya can’t protect forests alone, resources minister admits despite federal laws

Dr Xavier Jayakumar says without the support and help of the individual  state governments, the ministry will not be able to fulfill what it wants to do. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Dr Xavier Jayakumar says without the support and help of the individual state governments, the ministry will not be able to fulfill what it wants to do. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PUTRAJAYA, May 1 — Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar is dissatisfied with certain land issues but admitted that his hands are tied without the support and help of state governments.

In the case of deforestation, for example, he said the land and forest management comes under the state jurisdiction and the federal government can only advise the state governments on the matter.

“Because of that we have come up with the guidelines which we will be using and hopefully the states will follow the guidelines that we are setting up.

“We have set an SOP under the forest management department... the department has taken a proactive measure in advising all states on deforestation,” he said in a special press conference this week announcing the ministry’s achievements since Pakatan Harapan (PH) became government one year ago.

Dr Xavier said the federal government had also continued with several law reforms related to land.

“The frustration is to do with land, because without the support and help of the individual  state governments, we won't be able to fulfill what we want to do.

“But we have gone ahead and have got law reforms that is going on very actively in the ministry. This year we will be tabling the Perhilitan Reform Act in Parliament, as well as a bit on land reform,” he said, referring to two legislations properly called the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 or Act 716, and the Land Development Act 1956.

Dr Xavier said the ministry will also be tabling several new Acts, namely the Foresters Act, Registered Land Consultant Act, and the Water Resources Act.

“These are a few of the Acts we are looking into and to be sent in the next one or one and a half years for them to be passed.

“Across the board the ministry is reforming and upgrading some of the laws that have been in place over a period of time. These needs some changes with the present atmosphere that we have,” he said.

He said land reform is crucial to ensure state and federal lands are only used for purposes that would benefit the country and the people.

He pointed out a special task force was formed when the PH government took over, to audit federal lands that have been leased or sold.

“Checks and balances on how these lands are to be distributed are now in place.

“I don't think we are going to expect anything other than value for money as far as land is concerned and to be used for the best reason in the future,” he said.

Dr Xavier added that the audit process would take some time and the task force is currently compiling the necessary data.

“Within the next one month I will have the full data of how much land have been given out for what purpose, where, and what was the value. I will bring this to Cabinet for them to decide what to do next,” he said.