A panicked Pahang State Government has just ordered a halt to all logging in the state “until further notice” after vast log jams piled down with flooded waters into towns and desperate endangered creatures from the depleted jungles were seen struggling out into the open roads amidst the chaos.
These images have acted like bloody fingerprints at a brutal crime scene, where everyone who had been bothering to watch events unfold already had their prime suspect as to what has caused these appalling floods – and indeed the global warming behind the climactic rainfall.
Rampant logging has been warned about for years, indeed pleaded against by indigenous jungle dwellers and global scientists (Sarawak Report exists solely because of the self-same concern). Yet for the loggers and licence holders the excuse for their easy self-enrichment has always been the same, that somehow the destruction would bring ‘development’, modernisation and progress for the people.
In fact it has meant wealth for just a few and a pile of problems and pollutions for everybody else. The total lack of restraint and care with which the natural environment has been torn apart has been the emblem of poor governance and the impunity of the over-powerful. Protected areas which had been carefully created to conserve Malaysia’s natural heritage alongside its development decades back have in the past few years been systematically de-gazetted by those with only dollar signs in their greedy eyes.
Billboards from all over the state of Pahang and elsewhere have helped colour in the picture as to exactly who the beneficiaries have been – the concessionaires (as widely circulated on WhatsApp) are to a large degree royalty and politically connected businessmen.
Just to rub things in, some cocky flunkey recently allowed himself to be video recorded telling a concerned ‘Datin’ where to put herself when she protested at his logging operations…. because, he claimed, he is working for the Royal Family and has no need to listen to some mere aristocratic nobody like her.
One opposition MP has tactfully urged the King to take action against people such as this fellow for making false claims about such royal backing. However, everyone knows that it is the wealthiest and most powerful and most connected who have obtained the licences in Malaysia to rape the natural resources of the states at the expense of the rest of the community in so many ways.
This time it has been apocalyptic flooding. As everyone now understands such careless, brutal logging, especially of hillsides which should be set aside, has resulted in shocking erosion and the removal of the vegetation that used to soak up and absorb the rains. The consequences have been gushing water run offs and landslides, bringing with them the incriminating evidence of the huge piles of sawn logs that had lain hidden from sight until they came crashing down the water channels and into towns and homes.
Malaysians now understand the hard way why careful conservation is a sacred duty of any government – an ongoing petition has raised hundreds of thousands of signatures for a moratorium country-wide.
Pahang’s own terrified response is a first step, but how long will it last and how deep will enquiries go into how this catastrophe could have been allowed?