Malaysia opposition urges Pahang govt to look into illegal logging in flood's aftermath

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KUANTAN - The Pahang state government has been urged by the opposition to conduct an immediate investigation on what was claimed to be illegal and uncontrolled logging in the state.

Mr Wan Fauzuldin Wan Samad, the communications chief for opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in Pahang said the issue of logging, whether it was licensed or not, had often been raised so that it could be controlled and taken seriously by the authorities.

"Recently... scattered logs were washed away by the water until they piled up in the rivers, adding to the adverse effects of the floods when the river flow was blocked by the logs and pieces of wood. An example of that happened in Telemong," he said in a statement on Monday (Jan 3) as quoted by The Star daily.

Mr Wan Fauzuldin said these logs also floated all the way to houses, which happened in Karak.

"We demand that the state government conduct an immediate investigation in a more transparent manner and take stern action against anyone regardless of position, who is proven to have violated rules and laws in logging activities," said Mr Wan Fauzuldin, as quoted by The Star.

Just over two weeks ago, seven Malaysian states including Pahang, and the federal territory of Kuala Lumpur, were hit by widespread flooding following three days of heavy rains that started on Dec 17.

Pictures shared on social media showed several large logs dumped by receding flood waters at the front of a house in Pahang. Another picture on social media showed a large log lodged on the roof of another house.

There have been rumours of royal involvement in logging activities that led to these incidents.

Opposition lawmaker Khalid Samad on Monday urged the King, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah, to address allegations that logging activities in Pahang purportedly linked to the royal family had contributed to the recent severe flooding. Sultan Abdullah is head of the Pahang royal family.

"I sincerely request that Tuanku (Sultan Abdullah) clear his good name by making a statement and distancing His Majesty from those who use his name for their own benefit," said Mr Khalid, who is an MP from opposition Parti Amanah Negara.

"I request that Tuanku also order that action be taken against those misusing his name and that all logging activities that destroy the environment be stopped immediately," he said in a statement on Monday.

Flooding in Pahang's capital Kuantan on Dec 20, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Pahang Forestry Department recently said it had not found evidence of any logging activity in the Lentang forest reserve as alleged to be the cause of a flow of wood debris during the recent floods, The Star reported.

The department said a review on the issue of timber piles in Jalan Bentong-Karak near the Karak Road Transport Department weighing station and the Sri Telemong bridge instead found that there were two water surge incidents.

"The department has made an aerial check using a drone and found no logging activity either in the Lentang forest reserve, government land or private land in both locations," it said.

"The department also confirms that there is no legal or illegal logging activity as alleged by the public on social media," it said, adding that the forest reserve had been gazetted as a water catchment forest since 2002 where logging activities were not allowed at all.

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