Perak BN denies using forest reserves to fill war chest

Datuk Saarani Mohamad said BN had not received any funds from the degazettement, which was finalised on February 15. — Picture by Loghun Kumaran
Datuk Saarani Mohamad said BN had not received any funds from the degazettement, which was finalised on February 15. — Picture by Loghun Kumaran

IPOH, April 17 — Perak officials have rejected claims that Barisan Nasional was raising election funds by reclassifying 3,847ha of the state’s forest reserves.

Caretaker state rural development, agriculture, plantation, information and human capital development committee chairman Datuk Saarani Mohamad said BN earned nothing from the move finalised on February 15.

DAP’s incumbent Beruas MP Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham recently expressed suspicion about the move.

“We have never received a single cent from this,” Saarani told a press conference today.

“Ngeh is trying to deceive the people with this. It is immature politics and it shows how bad his heart is.”

Ngeh accused Saarani yesterday of failing to disclose the identity of the land’s recipient, and the latter countered today by saying the plot was clearly earmarked for planned farming clusters.

He also said the move was part of a larger 1998 decision to degazette 4,469.9ha of forest reserves in Bintang Hijau, Pondok Tanjung, Bubu and Bukit Larut.

He explained that the process was lengthy as authorities needed to map the terrain and determine who was working the land.

“After the Department of Survey and Mapping Malaysia (JUPEM) completed the measurements in the work in 2013, it was found that only 3,846ha had been used by farmers,” he said.

“That’s why we decided to gazette a smaller amount, and the area needed to be measured again. It was not a rush-job at all.”

He said all related documents were available to the public and invited Ngeh to view them.

“I advise him to find another issue to focus on,” he added.

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