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Sakmongkol ak 47

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Betrayals Masquerading as Progress

Our Tunnel Vision?

The Majesty of the caves.
Good Morning Gunung Senyum!

One writer-activist that I like to read is the irrepressible Arundhati Roy. She is of course the writer behind the bestseller The God of Small things. I am reading her book The Cost of Living.

I noted the advance praise from Salman Rushdie: Arundhati Roy's polemic is necessary and important. She combines brilliant reportage with a passionate, no-holds-barred commentary on.....betrayals masquerading as progress.

Many of us can never hope to achieve Roy's prominence as a writer. But perhaps the new media can provide us the medium through which we can emulate Roy. We can also passionately comment bravely on betrayals masquerading as progress.

For example, I recently wrote an article about the very possible destruction of two beautiful limestone mountains known as Guning Senyum and Gunung Jebak Puyuh. I hear disturbing news that the state government may be forced by yet another attempt by a leading conglomerate to construct a cement plant there.

This renewed attempt to take our mountains comes in the wake of perceived weakened position of the Pahang MB. He lost in the recent MKT elections. While he remains as Ketua Perhubungan, he is not an MKT member. He is categorised as a 'turut hadhir'. His future as MB is therefore, justifiably seen as precarious. So, if there is enough political support for the plan to take the mountains, another business proposal might just work.

What can save the MB and the state from giving in to such concerted attempts is support from the general public. If the attempt to submit yet again a business proposal to turn the sites mentioned is met with popular public sanction, the MB will find a more solid voice to refuse attempts to bulldoze through with the project. I used the term 'concerted' to suggest a collusion of public officials/politicians and big capital in wanting to see this project through.

We are suffocated with the usual reasoning that if the state government does not do it with a moneyed partner, this plant which can generate income will not take off. We are also put off track by the naive remark- of the process of getting approval takes a long time. What if I tell you, land titles can be gotten within a week or even a few days?

But these are not the issues which are of interest here. It's the idea that all these developments including destruction of ecological landmarks is done in the name of progress. Hence we are possibly facing what S.Rushdie said when fore-wording Roy's book- betrayals masquerading as progress.

We see rivers being dammed up, hills and mountains being flattened, all in the name of progress. Voices of dissent are few or if they are any, remain unorganised and isolated. Hence the relevant authorities march on with impunity. Along the way, we hear the stock-in-trade voices, if we don't do it; we don't have the capital and knowhow.

Then we might as well abandon our officious positions and let big capital take over completely. I suspect this kind of officious remarks come from government officials or heads of GLCs who want to justify their collusion. We often forget that most of the time, our own relevance in such a business venture, is made possible only because the law says, as the authority, we have ownership of the asset in question. How did we come to 'own' the asset in the first place? Not by earning or creating it, but because the law empowers us to own it.

I have used the possible re attempt to snatch these gunungs from us, to illustrate a bigger issue. This debate about developing Gunung Senyum and Jebak will no doubt capture popular imagination. This will raise the stakes and complexion of the polemic. From being a fight over the fate of two mountains, it will raise doubts over the entire political system.

The issue touches the very nature of our democracy. Who owns this land? Our rivers? Our forests (of particular importance to Pahang), and of course our mountains? When we touch any thing related to this basic question relating to the nature of our political system, we are met up with rebukes as answers. They are answered ambiguously in bitter and foul language.

How so? You will soon see the usual official response.

Suppose the project actually takes off. There will be destruction of habitat (animals and humans). These will be followed up with occasional but disconnected account of how the government authorities, ever mindful and sympathetic to animals and humans, are doing everything possible to minimise difficulties. These isolated gestures will be politicised as emblems of our caring attitude. We listen to the people, we feel for them etc, ad nauseam.

If that fail, the persistence by such disparate groups like MNS and other NGOs will be labelled as how a handful of subversive activists is holding the nation to ransom and preventing progress, employment and raising incomes.


Greenbottle 19 May 2009 at 09:33  

dato sak;

despite my hatred for umno, i'm beginning to admire read good books too!

i guess i've been too harsh on umno . there are still some good fish in the barrel.

keep up the good fight!

Anonymous,  19 May 2009 at 09:35  

I believe that DOE and EIA process is transparent enough to protect the nation's interest.

If that is deemed a laughable statement then we have a serious crisis i.e. complete breakdown of the country's systems.


BCTan266 19 May 2009 at 11:58  

Betrayals Masquerading as Progress have been the bane of modern society.

I am just a small voice. But I believe the slant and tone of this missive represent many similar hopes though it may not be the right platform to use...your Blogspot, Datuk Sak.

However, I believe when the heart is in the right place sincere deeds will find its level.

At the head, Malaysia has one who says he cares. They all say that!

1Malaysia People First ... I think DS Najib has got to perform NOW with regard to Gunung Senyum to being back many smiles.

I do not know what kind of shady legal tangle (if any) that PASDEC has got itself tied up in/with this time, but I implore the PM to not get himself bundled up as well by the shenanigans resulting from any shady (again, if any) confluencing of dastardly business and political interests.

Having said that, these intricacies are merely created or perceived ones and hence can be 'uncreated and untangled'...not unlike our highway toll

The spirt of the law has so often been trampled upon just so the interests of the powerful are safeguarded. What irony! Often times, what is being safeguarded is nothing more than sheer & naked GREED.

YAB Datuk Seri Najib, moments and opportunities are getting rarer by the day for you to shine. The political climate has been so hostile to you. Many can surmise that even within your own BN house, there is no solid approval of the many moves that you have taken in many issues of late.

Hoping that you do the right thing may seem so simple and naive. And what more dreaming of bringing back the smile to Gunung Senyum! However, I am sure several hundred thousand helpless Malaysians would put a plus mark in their book for you after you have done just that. We are simple folks after all.

Isn't that leadership? Why is it such a difficult concept to grasp? If leaders stopped being politicians now and then and go to the ground and heart our heartbeats, they could learn so much.

It is rare the leader who dares to tilt the windmills. In this instance it is neither populistic nor an opportunistic. It is just doing the right thing!

And it is worth so much, this...a smile from the heart.

Anonymous,  19 May 2009 at 13:45  

indeed sad

Tommy Yewfigure 19 May 2009 at 13:53  


Tot this related case might add some weight to your cause, happened in Western Australian;

Yes, SAVE Gunung Senyum; How can anyone bare to destroy a mountain with a name like that!


Unknown 19 May 2009 at 13:53  

Dato' Sak,

Sorry to disappoint you Dato', UMNO is well and truly Synonymous with MONEY...

As they say people with common interests band together. Hence all those holding State Powers can and will do what they want to do to reach the Proverbial Pot of Gold, Caves or no Caves....

Sam Yap,  19 May 2009 at 14:34  

Ok, I am with you. I am really mad about this. I have been to a couple of these caves and truly they are a wonder of nature.

So, what to do now? Dare we fight the BIG MONEY and the politicians behind this? I am not sure if we are ready for it yet. Like you said, we'd be accused of being against progress and all that crap.

So, how now?

Donplaypuks® 19 May 2009 at 15:21  

Dear anon 9.35

Come, come. You cannot be so naive as to think the Govt studiously plays by its own rules.

E.g. The Bakun EIA was finally ruled inapplicable to E.Malaysia by our Fed Court. So, a project about 5 times the size of S'pore was deemed to be outside the
purview of the EIA!! 1 Nation, 2 Systems!

In other instances, EIA were either not called for or quietly shelved with no public inquiry. Why do you think Bkt Antarabangsa has become a high risk zone and the Highland Towers tragedy occurred?

Wake up man! Don't blindly support conscienceless Civil Srervants and sleeping Ministers in Govt!

Anonymous,  19 May 2009 at 15:54  


I am not an expert and neither have seen the EIA/DOE reports on the projects you mentioned.
My basic premise is that we have processes/legislations to protect our heritage and environment...but if all those measures are nothing but an eyewash,then the country is in serious trouble. have been in govt and should understand the inner workings >>so very simple question>>will the EIA for the proposed senyum project adequately protect our heritage/environment REGARDLESS of how big and powerful the project promoters are?

Anonymous,  19 May 2009 at 17:21  

Dato' Sak,
This has proven my suspicion all along that The MB has been arm twisted to agree to the development of Gunung Senyum for a cement factory. Tell the MB to fight on. What is high office when you have to bow out to greedy people? He can walk with his head held high for living up to his principle. They will change him in due course in order to have a more pliant MB in his place but in the meantime he must continue to fight on. We will be right behind him.
Rakyat First.

Anonymous,  19 May 2009 at 18:27  

Keep it up Dato with exposure with good intention nature.This is what politicians should be active doing .

You do have the majority support.Environment issues is too long neglected in Malaysia.

Jamal JB

Donplaypuks® 19 May 2009 at 18:43  

Dear Anon and others

All it takes is for the HRH's and the Fed Govt to say that our mountains, rivers, forests, flora & fauna, mangrove swamps and seas etc, shall remain untapped for the next 50 years for these kinds of huge environmentally degradable projects. (And review it 50 years down the road).

And the enforcement of it shall be such that anyone found convicted shall be flogged, stoned and hung publicly after having his goolies removed and pickled to be fed to wild animals in our hutans!!

Then these BN and other MB's and politicians will be forced to look at real trade and entrepreneurally creative and sound projects and businesses to move towards a new dawn and economy.

It's as simple as that. And if our politicians don't listen to us, just vote them out! What's so difficult about that? Why are we clinging on to Governments comprising crooks and thieves?


peng 19 May 2009 at 22:46  

If you keep silent, evil prospers.
Thank you for not keeping silent on this issue.
We all should not keep silent too..

ajoyly 20 May 2009 at 09:35  

Well, they say progress is in the pocket of the beholder. Money and profit comes in many forms.Growth, Development!! They are the same.The way to fight them is to educate the people to diffentiate between what is green ( preserving nature and environment ) and what is greed ( helping the capitalists to become richer and more powerful ).

Unknown 20 May 2009 at 10:48  


Anon Says:

"This has proven my suspicion all along that The MB has been arm twisted to agree to the development of Gunung Senyum for a cement factory. Tell the MB to fight on. What is high office when you have to bow out to greedy people? He can walk with his head held high for living up to his principle. They will change him in due course in order to have a more pliant MB in his place but in the meantime he must continue to fight on. We will be right behind him.
Rakyat First."


Anonymous,  20 May 2009 at 13:10  

Dato am writing to you during my lunch time to relate how bad the civil service is.I attended a meeting wherby we were told to rehearse like a play on how to lie to some people who were coming for a inspection next week.
How do you being a small fart in the civil service stand up to these kind of misdeeds and i am very sure i am not the only one in this predicament.

Anonymous,  20 May 2009 at 14:08  

greenbottle...very shallow guy you,judging people by what they read, what society expects should be read to be considered.

Anonymous,  21 May 2009 at 07:53  


Its naive to think that other political parties are not corrupted.especially opposition parties.common.. you maybe blind.When pas ruled Terengganu, the way they do things left much do be desired.Croniym, corruption, abused of power you named it.they did.we commoners were so frustrated with them.Some of the leaders and those close to them are so rich nowadays,, you wonder how they did 4 years only.THE RESULT THE PEOPLE VOTED THEM OUT OF OFFICE NOT BECAUSE OF PAK LAH PROMINENCE BUT PEOPLE ARE GETTING SICK OF THEIR ANTICS UNTIL ON THE LAST DAY OF CAMPAIGNING NOT MANY TURN UP AT HAJI HADI RALLY EXCEPT FOR THEIR OWN HARDCORE.

The obvious things they did was to breakup companies built by BN govenmnent, instead of reingineerng them,sell whatever things they can get money in short terms.all the promises about change result in people being in daze of what the government of the day is doing.No hala tuju in economy at all, that is the correct word.All they did was bashing and blaming everything on previous government.until you got sick hearing it.

All the years talking about kepimpinan ulamak, hudud and would think that they have already did some write up about how to rule in islamic ways and islamic economy. i kind of expect some book or journal from them explaning to us how to do things the islamic was, rather then going on anD on, about follow quran an hadith.Of course we want to follow but how.NOt everybody read Quran and undersTand.Where are easy to follow steps books.NONE.

So greebottle, you know it is from BN governmet that you become somebody not the other way round.The things to do is not to hate but to endear yourself to iT and the agent of change.You think anuar ibrahim,azmin ali, and the others are pious yoU will be greatly dissappointed.Think again MY BROTHER.

Anonymous,  25 May 2009 at 12:51  

dear dato and anon at 19 May 2009 15:54,

allow me to share some of my experience with EIA. im a consultant involved in the building industry.

from my experience the EIA do not have any legislative grounds to stop any development. EIA's function is to document the environmental impact in a development and suggest the actions needed to rectify these impacts. while the EIA may even advise that a development is entirely unsound and should not take place it still remains as an advise. at the end of the day its up to the local authorities and relevant government agencies/ministries to approve or disapprove any development. the EIA is merely a support document to advise decision making.


Anonymous,  25 May 2009 at 19:47  

isn't the EIA supposed to be made public?and comments then invited from the public?

And wouldn't DOE ensure that the concerns addressed within the EIA is addressed?

And for all projects DOE specific approval is very much part of the process..

Sorry,I can't understand ur logic >>DOE do have the authority to approve the project and EIA is just a report/tool to assist DOE's decision making process.

Makes me wonder about ur experience in the industry


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