Friday, September 18, 2009


Even though district councilor Chua Yee Ling and some Majlis Daerah Hulu Selangor enforcement officers ordered the road project stopped two days ago, Mr. Tan's workers were still going flat out today. I’m glad they didn’t just walk off the site. At least they’ve put down several layers of stone chips, otherwise the whole place would be awash with mud as it’s been raining a lot this week.

Some people may think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill about the illegal road in Kg. Pertak, but the reason I am making a fuss about it is because the road is being constructed with no regard for the environment. I’m not opposed to the road per se, in fact as far as I’m concerned, it’s Orang Asli land so it’s their decision and if someone wants to build them a road I say, why not? so long as you do it properly.

The problem of course is that it’s turned into a game of political one-upmanship with the Selangor state government left in the unenviable position of having to put a halt to the project (because strictly speaking it’s illegal) and at the same time alienate the Orang Asli big time. After all, who do you think they’ll vote for at the next election, the ones who offered them the road or the ones who stopped it?

If this road was intended as a sincere gift to the Asli then why didn’t the developers apply for a permit from the state government? The Pakatan state government would be pretty dumb to refuse, knowing how unpopular that would make them with the Asli and if the road was legal, the state government could have insisted that it was built properly and that the environmental impact was minimal.

As it is, there are now several trees in danger of falling because the slopes, that their roots were helping to stabilize, have been undermined. So be prepared for lots of road closures. I wonder whose going to be responsible for maintenance?

To make matters worse, mounds of earth, rocks and organic debris have been dumped along the riverside edge pretty much along the whole length of the road. Some of this has already found its way into the river and it’s only a matter of time before the rest follows. This river flows directly into the Selangor Dam reservoir, which supplies drinking water to KL. It’s already heavily silted up after only 8 years in operation so this extra load won’t be welcome.

Then, to cap it all, numerous small streams intersected the original trail that they have widened into the new road. In fact the trail often resembled a small river during heavy rainfall. As the road is being constructed without any proper drainage, I don’t see how any surface they apply could survive for very long with streams flowing under it.

So while this political myopia continues the environmental damage continues apace and very few people seem to be concerned about it. They have retreated to their political corners for a face-off.  I hope that some form of sanity prevails and that whoever is behind the construction offers an apology to the state government for disrespecting their authority and retrospectively applies for a permit. Then I hope that the state government accepts the apology and gives a permit but insists the road is built properly. These simple steps would turn a negative situation into a positive one. The Asli would get their road and it would be properly constructed to minimize environmental impact. Both BN and PKR would emerge as heroes; BN for paying for it and PKR for allowing it to be built…yes I know, pure fantasy, but I live in hope!

Of course if the Orang Asli had legal rights to their ancestral lands none of this would have happened in the first place but that’s a different story…

1 comment:

Antares said...

Couldn't have put it better. Thanks! :-)