KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (KeTSA) will take on the role of lead agency in carrying out investigations into the recent floods in Baling, Kedah.

Its Minister, Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan said his ministry just received the instruction from the Prime Minister’s Office through the Office of the Chief Secretary to the Government.

“This is reasonable because there are many related departments under KeTSA, such as the Forestry Department Peninsular Malaysia, Department of Minerals and Geosciences, Department of Survey and Mapping, Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and various other relevant departments.

“This will be chaired by the Chief Secretary to the Government (Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali) but KeTSA will be the lead agency,” he said when winding up the debate on the National Forestry (Amendment) Bill 2022 at the Dewan Rakyat here today.

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He said he would ensure that the results of the investigation regarding the floods would be released to the public as soon as possible.

The floods in Baling on July 4 affected 41 areas and claimed the lives of three people, including a pregnant 23-year-old.

On the proposed tabling of a White Paper on the tragedy, as raised by Wong Hon Wai (PH-Bukit Bendera), Takiyuddin said there was no obstacle for the government to table it in Parliament.

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“The process now is a preliminary investigation. If the investigation shows there is a need for a White Paper, the government has no obstructions... I will make sure of that,” he said.

Earlier, Takiyuddin said, when tabling the National Forestry (Amendment) Bill for the second reading, that it was aimed at controlling the process of gazetting and replacing the Permanent Forest Reserves, strengthening forest enforcement to combat the unauthorised taking of forest products, besides increasing fines and punishment as well as additional penalties to curb forest offences that can damage the environment.

It is also to overcome the issue of ambiguity and unclear powers as well as to improve the schedule contained in the act to further strengthen the management and enforcement of forestry.

The National Forestry (Amendment) Bill 2022 was then unanimously passed by the Dewan Rakyat. — Bernama