ALOR SETAR, May 16 — The Kedah government is prepared to gazette Hulu Muda Forest Reserve as a state park but a number of issues need to be studied and understood first, says Mentri Besar Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.
“Although the forest reserve is not gazetted as a state park yet, all activities including logging which could threaten the area’s ecosystem have been stopped and that is important.
“Meanwhile, we are looking for new sources of income for the state through ecotourism. We want to see if this forest reserve is gazetted as a state park, whether we can carry out tourism activities in the area.
“If can, we will proceed with the matter (gazetting), otherwise it’ll be a waste if we cannot expose the natural beauty and treasures of this forest reserve to local and foreign tourists,” he told reporters after launching the Zero2Maker programme, here, today.
He was commenting on news reports last Monday on the fear of the threat to the source of water for Kedah, Penang and Perlis if the Hulu Muda Forest Reserve is not gazetted as a state park.
Meanwhile, Mukhriz said till now, the state government had not made any decision on the issue of compensation payment from Penang to Kedah to gazette the area (as a water catchment area).
“I understand that Penang always says that compensation should be paid by the federal government but there is no decision on this yet. But I wish to thank the government on the many new announcements on water infrastructure including changing the amount owing to grant.
Yesterday, Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) chief executive officer, Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said Penang would not be paying compensation to Kedah to gazette the Hulu Muda Forest Reserve as a water catchment area, but the federal government should instead be paying for it.
On the Zero2Maker (Z2M) programme held for the first time in Kedah towards producing young inventors and entrepreneurs, Mukhriz said the event involving school students was important, especially in exposing them to new technology which could boost creativity, technical and communication skills, and self-confidence.
“This could then contribute to economic growth in the country and in the state, in particular, which requires skilled manpower in the fields of science, mathematics and technology,” he added. — Bernama