The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) participated in the 29 September 2020 town hall regarding the degazetting of the Kuala Langat Utara Forest Reserve (Hutan Simpan Kuala Langat Utara, or HSKLU)
The PSM delegation brought forward issues regarding the environment and over-development in opposing the controversial degazetting.
Associate Professor Dr. Darren Ong Chung Lee, as deputy coordinator of PSM’s environment bureau emphasised the environmental impacts of losing the HSKLU. Degazetting the HSKLU will release 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, contributing to the ongoing climate crisis. Degazetting the forest reserve would also go against Malaysia’s commitments to protect its tropical forests.
Dr. Darren also questioned the planned “replacement forest” in Sabak Bernam that is meant to compensate for the degazetting of the HSKLU. This is because PSM has discovered that the Federal Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology and Environment released an approval letter on the 11th of December 2019 that approved a new palm oil plantation in that same site.
Sharan Raj, the coordinator of PSM’s environment bureau stressed that the planned “mixed development” at the HSKLU site was economically unnecessary. Based on statistics from the National Property Information Centre (NAPIC), Selangor and Kuala Lumpur contain 30% of the unsold houses in Malaysia. Furthermore, 23.5% of offices there were unoccupied in 2020. This figure can only increase as more people work from home and new skyscraper construction commences in the capital. According to the Department of Statistics, the population growth rate in Selangor in 2019 was only 0.8%. Therefore, there is clearly excess stock of real estate in Selangor and Kula Lumpur. Mixed development at the HSKLU site will make this property glut worse, in addition to destroying the ancestral homes of the Orang Asli.
At this time, the HSKLU acts as a filter for polluted air from the southwest monsoon from May to Septmember. This filtering effect cleans the air as it travels from the industrial sites on the west of the HSKLU to the Klang valley. Without the HSKLU, polluted air will more easily reach the densely populated Klang valley and cause health problems there. Most residents of the Klang valley cannot afford treatment at private hospitals, so this will stress our public health system and have adverse effects on national productivity.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
Parti Sosialis Malaysia Negeri Melaka (PSM Melaka)