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Sakmongkol ak 47

Monday 16 November 2009

Pahang and her 900,000ha forest.

Even those who do not find the Pahang MB appealing for a variety of reasons, appear to applaud his decision to gazette 900,000 hectares of forest as inviolable heritage. That's an extraordinary move as it is radical. Necessary it seems, to provide Pahang with water catchment area.

In doing so, Pahang has created extensive neighborhood effects, which if left to market forces will be under-produced. That means if it is entirely up to market pressures, Pahang will want to exploit the forests and cut them down. That would be against public good not only in Pahang but for those who enjoy the spillover effects without having to pay. They become free-riders. So, Pahang wants to monetize these neighborhood effects so that they continue to be produced i.e. retained as forested regions.

I have written to support his idea of getting compensation from the federal government because of that. As there are many ways to bell the cat, I am hoping the federal government will accommodate this request for some form of compensation in some ways suitable.

Allow me to alter the MB to a very genuine concern- whether what he said becomes a guarantee that no future administration will dishonor. The Pahang people have been accustomed to seeing solemn declarations being broken. It isn't at all implausible for Pahang people to imagine his declaration now, will be violated in future. Circumstances, political expediencies may overturn the MB's pledge. It's one thing to proclaim something, but enforcing it is another matter altogether.

On that point, I find the comments given by a reader who calls himself Cikgu Ngah to be very pertinent and deserving of appreciation. Accordingly, I reproduce his comments below:-

Cikgu Ngah said...

Assalamualaikum Dato',

Pertamanya terima kasih kerana sudi menyiarkan pandangan saya. Dato' memanglah seorang yang demokratis dan memberi peluang kepada semua orang utk bersuara.

Keduanya, apa yg saya nak tanya betulkah 900 000 hektar hutan itu dijaga dengan baik dan tidak ada langsung aktiviti pembalakan dijalankan? Betulkah kerajaan negeri Pahang kawal aktiviti pembalakan supaya tidak menjejaskan alam sekitar? Apakah kawalan ketat benar-benar diadakan supaya kes curi balak tidak berlaku? Itu yang saya nak tanya. Saya tak hendak orang kata perishtiharan Dato' Nan itu hanya suatu 'lip service' saja, macam yg Tun Pak Lah selalu buat. Cakap banyak, apa hasil pun tak nampak. Itu yg saya maksudkan. Kalau benar-benarlah 900 000 hektar hutan itu terpelihara dan langsung tiada aktiviti pembalakan dijalankan, yg haram mahupun yg halal, maka saya ucap setinggi tahniah dan berbanyak-banyak terima kasih kepada Yang Amat Berhormat Dato' Sri Pak Long Nan kita. Moga Allah SWT merahmati Dato' Sri dan melanjutkan usia Dato' Sri. Kalau betul-betul hutan yg 900 000 hektar itu terpelihara dengan rapi, saya rela pi buat demonstrasi aman di Putrajaya menuntut supaya kerajaan pusat bagi wang ehsan pada negeri Pahang.

Soalnya betul ka tidak? Dari pengamatan saya sbg seorang rakyat biasa macam tidak. Tengok saja Cameron Highlands, makin gondol dan botak serta makin panas dan tidak lagi sesejuk dulu. Air sungai Jelai dan Sungai Lipis di kampung halaman saya makin berlumpur, berkelodak dan tohor. Saya rasa mestilah ini kesan daripada aktiviti pembalakan.

Tindakan Dato' Nan minta wang ehsan dari kerajaan pusat itu hanya akan jadi beretika dan bermoral jika beliau dan kerajaan negeri dapat membuktikan bahawa benar-benar hutan yang telah digazet itu dijaga dengan rapi dan sempurna sebagai kawasan tadahan air.

Satu lagi saya juga tak nak menyalahkan Dato' Nan 100%. Tentulah soal menjaga hutan di Pahang ini kerja Jabatan Hutan serta Pejabat Daerah dan Pejabat Tanah dan Galian. Kakitangan di pejabat-pejabat ini sentiasa hidup mewah dan kaya walau siapa juga memerintah dan mereka ini tak semuanya sokong kerajaan BN. Kalau Dato' Nan melakukan sesuatu untuk membersihkan jabatan2 ini daripada elemen2 yg korup, tidak efektif dan lembab dalam bekerja dan membuat keputusan, saya tidak ragu-ragu untuk mengatakan bahawa Dato' Nan patut menerajui Pahang untuk 10-20 tahun lagi. Tapi ada kah beliau buat begitu Dato'?

Maaf sekali lagi kerana tulis panjang sangat. Terima kasih

15 November 2009 23:06

So how do you guarantee what you have said? Some ideas:

Since what the MB has said is a radical idea, it needs a radical format to sustain it. Why not write this provision into the constitution. After all, people are wary of the fact that gazette can be de gazetted. Once you have it written into the constitution, it takes a more elaborate process to undo it. It will take 2/3 majority to change it. That's easily done you counter- because BN controls the House. They do, but doing so can also attract adverse publicity, condemnation and public opinion does matter nowadays.

So, I would say, have it written into the constitution.

The problem is- do the Pahang ADUNs have the testicular tenacity and hardened resolve? (no pun intended, haha).

While on the subject of timber extraction and its exploitation also think of this suggestion. 2 years ago I suggested that felling of timbers by private companies be banned completely. Once its banned, any private timber felling will be unlawful and the transgressors immediately known to have broken the law. Apply the toughest legal sanctions against them- seize all property, freeze bank accounts. In Thailand, those caught cutting down timers are shot by rangers.

How do you cut down trees then? Only authorized cutters are allowed to cut down trees. These are appointed directly by the state government. All felled trees are brought to bonded stock yards- properly documented and accounted and counted. Whoever wants to buy timber for further processing will go to the bonded timber yard to buy whatever type of timber they want. They pay whatever duties and royalties for the timber they purchase.

By doing so, you prevent theft by unauthorized parties. Having to pay through bonded stock yard ensures that revenue losses are minimized.

Maybe the Pahang MB may want to consider some radical measures in support of his radical announcement.


vinnan,  16 November 2009 at 10:12  

UMNO will NEVER be able to become transparent and corruption nfree in their 'radical' ideas. It has never happened before and never will.

Cikgu Ngah,  16 November 2009 at 10:37  

Assalamualaikum Dato',

Terima kasih kerana siarkan pandangan saya.

Saya cukup bersetuju dengan cadangan2 Dato' untuk memperbaiki sistem pengurusan hutan di negeri kita. Saya hanya mampu berdoa dan berharap agar Dato' Nan dan 'the powers that be' dalam negeri kita sudi mendengar cadangan-cadangan daripada orang seperti Dato'. Marilah kita berdoa dan berharap agar mereka yg berkuasa ini, terutamanya Dato' Nan ada 'political will' dan mungkin juga 'political guts' untuk membuat apa yang terbaik untuk negeri kita. Kita sedia maklum bahawa dalam negeri Pahang yang makmur ini ada pertimbangan2 tertentu yang sentiasa perlu diambilkira oleh seseorang MB sebelum membuat sesuatu, terutamanya soal kehendak2 pihak istana, ahli-ahli politik dan businessmen tertentu.

Saya berdoa agar Dato' diberikan suatu tempat dan kedudukan yang penting dalam kerajaan agar dapat melaksanakan idea2 dan cadangan2 Dato' itu.

Terima kasih sekali lagi Dato'. Moga Allah SWT merahmati dan memberkati Dato' dan keluarga diatas keikhlasan dan kejujuran politik Dato' itu.

walla 16 November 2009 at 11:37  

Good ideas. Furthermore, doable. So it remains to ask why haven't they been done so far? Only answer is because they prefer to outsource for quick revenue at the expense of paying closer and more direct attention to ecosystem management which has wider national purview. Besides governments shouldn't do business otherwise they will compete with the people they are supposed to serve. But this is only one aspect.

Shoot up (no pun intended) to space. Look down by satellite. Pahang is the only green lung of peninsular. Without lungs, fish die. So too humans. Unless they have other blessings, countries without green lungs turn into deserts. Been feeling hot under the collar lately? Blame it on global warming.

So how to highlight? Change how parliament operates. Set up a parliamentary administrative session that meets monthly. The sessions are a small subset of both federal and state, incumbent and opposition. In each monthly session, administrative matters are considered on a round table. There is no labeling who belongs to which party. It's just malaysian future interest for all. That should be the way. Not meet only twice a year to throw banana skins at one another.

Common to each session is that corporate meeting bugbear - 'matters arising'. Inside 'matters arising' is a permanent feature - 'gazetted items'.
Now, forest conservation is gazetted. The trick is not to bring it up if there is no change. However, if there is a change, example a parcel of forest is about to be mined for revenue, then that proposal triggers a review of the gazetted item under which it prevails. This way, all manners of administrative matters already generally gazetted do not claim individual entries into the constitution and yet get covered administratively. The question is whether there is integrity in the administrative procedure. That's why the subset has to have checks-and-balance. Even federal can agree to this because states can take variance. And if federal cannot agree to this, whither people first, performance now?

Second, this thing about claims for opportunity costs incurred to supply water to other states indirectly from forest catchment. There are three parts to the issue. All nettlesome.

One, how does one measure opportunity cost? Take an example about brain drain. There was a case where a potential investor walked away from plunking RM10.4 billion because we couldn't give him 1,000 engineers. Someone did a simplifying calculation to quantify our brain drain. It went like this:

'1000 experienced engineers equates to RM10.4 billion investment. 2 out of 3 of 785,000 professionals working overseas is RM 5442Billion. What was Najib's budget for 2010? 200 billion? So, it is equal to 25 times of national budget'.

walla 16 November 2009 at 11:37  

But how does one use this method for 900,000 hectares of forest to be frozen in time? Maybe you can use the other two Pahang activities. Tourism and the Pekan assembly plant.

Two, who bears the compensation for something which is hard to measure? Putrajaya is cutting its expenses (and do try to remember this the next time they don't). So money won't be coming from them. So it may be expected that money will have to come from states which will receive the water. Now the two states mentioned are NS and SDE. NS is Umno. SDE is PKR which has a water supply benefit policy to the rakyat. If Putrajaya is going to federally make water rate hike, both will raise brim and fire. NS may be quieter but its people will suffer too. SDE will raise a counterpoint. The capitation grant. It's going to be messy. And SDE is right about the capitation grant. Because it also hits Penang and the other opposition-run states. The word capitation must have come from the word decapitation.

Three, what's our success rate with reafforestation? The purpose for asking is that the root of the matter is not about stopping timber mining but about renewing the natural source. If you stop timber mining, Sabah and Sarawak may close down.

Take Pahang. It's big state but small economic activity. Scratch head why it should be so for this long. A motor plant making small cars with isuzu engines. A tourist resort on the hill driven by some funny human frailty. What else is there? Menglembu groundnuts? How come? Like for Perak, where are the FDIs? It harks back to opportunity costs.

And from a national viewpoint, opportunity costs are movable objects. Blow RM12 billion on a port hub whose land was acquired at strangely inflated price by approval from two personages in session, one of whom gave some twenty answers in an interview that were also strange in that they were all "i can't remember". They are strange answers because one expects someone trained to be a doctor to have at least some memory. Especially for something so big and a pet project, to boot.

So the opportunity cost is the RM12 billion which would not only have been used to train up the best 1,000 engineers in Asia, and thus win for a start that RM10.4 billion investment so that that Princeton-graduate KTK would not have to wince further, but the surplus funds could also have been used to reafforest the whole of this country so that states like Pahang, Sarawak and Sabah can be the green lungs for the future young ones.

The stigma attached to timber mining must be because reafforestation has been limpid (no pun intended again).

It remains to spoil everyone's week with these:


Anonymous,  16 November 2009 at 16:13  

Good write Dato ,

Rather that circling the issue , you proposed an action plan that can or must be done.We need to problem solver giving ideas that Achievable logically rather than whiners.
Please monitor those irresponsible government servants for making money from it.By the way,I am that extreme to agree on shooting illegal loggers but to punished them with extra long years in jails and publish it in news are good enough.Many are living the luxury of life on these vice income for too long.

Jamal JB

9w2mzl 21 November 2009 at 20:26  

apa yang saya nampak, penguatkuasaan kerajaan di mana-mana amatlah lemah.. contohnya dalam isu mencegah pembalakan haram.. jika ingin dikuatkuasakan secara cekap, saya tak nampak kenapa kita boleh gagal.. kita boleh melakukan pengawasan menggunakan satelit tapi pembalakan haram masih berlaku.. atau ada dalang di sebalik semua ini.. saya boleh membantu jika kerajaan pahang ingin membina satelit sendiri..

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