Facebook users infuriated after posts protesting degazettement of Kuala Langat forest reserve ‘vanish’

Social media users have lodged complaints after their posts with links to a petition on change.org to fight against the deforestation of the peat swamp forest reserve were removed for allegedly violating community standards on spam.  — Reuters pic
Social media users have lodged complaints after their posts with links to a petition on change.org to fight against the deforestation of the peat swamp forest reserve were removed for allegedly violating community standards on spam. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 ― Facebook posts protesting the degazettement of the Kuala Langat (North) Forest Reserve (KLFNR) have mysteriously disappeared over the past week, leading to suspicions of a conspiracy

Many social media users have complained in the comment section of Facebook after their posts with links to a petition on change.org to fight against the deforestation of the peat swamp forest reserve were removed for allegedly violating community standards on spam.

A check on the Cyberjaya Info Facebook page, which had shared the link to the petition, saw many sharing screenshots of Facebook’s ban on their postings of the same issue.

Mesti ada yang reported as spam,” social media user Shezz Yusof posted, translated to mean: “Someone must have reported as spam.”

Kene jugak. Tak patuh community standard katanya,” Ilyani Aris commented. Translated to mean: “I got that too. Apparently the post goes against community standards.”

Saya pun kene... speechless,” Nurul Illiana Mazlishah wrote, translated to mean: “I got that too speechless.”

The petition was started by Global Environment Centre (GEC), a non-profit environmental NGO based in Malaysia, and this was later shared by Cyberjaya Info.

On its Facebook page, the administrator of Cyberjaya Info accused Facebook of deleting its initial post on the issue.

Most of those whose posts were deleted feel that there seems to be a concerted effort to track down and report these posts as spam.

An attempt to silence these protests perhaps, they say.

Malay Mail contacted Facebook Malaysia’s public relations firm about the deletion and was advised to write in for an explanation.

Early this month, the Selangor Forestry Department published a notice of the proposed degazettement in newspapers and asked stakeholders in the area to state their objections within a 30-day period.

Malaysiakini reported that there are seven gazetted Orang Asli villages in the area, namely Kampung Orang Asli Pulau Kempas, Bukit Cheeding, Bukit Kecil, Bukit Perah, Busut Baru, Tanjung Rabok and Bukit Kamandol.

The report stated that the settlements are part of a bigger tract of land which was previously gazetted as customary land in 1927.

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar has been reported as objecting to the proposed de-gazetting of 930 hectares within the KLFNR area.

Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil, an outspoken environmental activist, wants the KLNFR degazettement stopped.

She added that while her Facebook posts were not taken down, she was informed that many others had faced such a predicament.

Shariffa said that the KLFNR must be preserved. “The area involved is the only forested area in existence in the Kuala Langat district, and is the green lung of the area and its surrounding vicinity, as well as the state of Selangor, which has only 32 per cent of areas covered with forests.

“It is clear that the degazetting of the forest reserve and the issuance of the land grant is against public interest, and in fact, is merely for the interest and profitability of certain people, only,” she said in a statement to Malay Mail.

Another activist said the move to degazette KLFNR could also affect Malaysia’s reforestation efforts.

“If Malaysia were to apply for financing from foreign countries for reforestation, they just may say to us, ‘You are unable to save your own forests and yet you’re asking for funding to replant?’ We will look very bad,” he said.

At the end of the 30-day objection period, a townhall session will be chaired by Hee Loy Sian, the Selangor Environment, Green Technology, Science, Technology and Innovation and Consumer Affairs committee chairman.

This is set to take place in Banting at the end of March.

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