Briefing session on the situation of Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (KLNFR) and indigenous rights
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
On 8th February 2021, Amnesty International Malaysia, in collaboration with Klima Action Malaysia, initiated a briefing session with its members on the dire situation of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve degazettement plan and how indigenous rights are tied into this.
Brian Yap, Amnesty International Malaysia (AIM) researcher, and the co-author of AIM's report "The Forest is our heartbeat - The struggle to defend indigenous lands in Malaysia"
Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar, chairperson of Klima Action Malaysia, the committee in the Defend Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve (PHSKLU) coalition set up to campaign against the degazettement proposal. 50 people attended the briefing session which started with a presentation by Brian Yap on the key points and study cases amplified by the AIM's report on the decade long indigenous plight against land grabbing and fighting for their sovereignty in Malaysia. The landmark report, according to Brian, is ever more relevant to the climate crisis we are now facing.
Ili Nadiah, representing PHSKLU and KAMY echoed Brian's statement on the efficiency of "Free Prior Inform Consent" FPIC, or lack thereof, in many mega development projects happening on indigenous territories. She began her presentation with the KLNFR degazettement plan chronology, how the coalition came to be, and the updates on the Temuan villagers namely; Pulau Kempas, Bukit Cheeding, Busut Baru, Bukit Komandol, Bukit Perah.
Nadiah stresses the consequences will not only be felt by Temuans but also Malaysians and the international community as a whole because carbon emissions and climate impacts know no boundaries. This project is the epitome of climate injustice -- commonplace in Malaysia, whereby the mismanagement of the natural resources that led to ecological breakdown is fueled by decades of discrimination toward minorities and policies that are rooted in systemic racism, cronyism and corruption.
People and Planet before Profit
Climate/environmental activists today have to be more interdimensional than their predecessors as they have to wade through the widening intersectional impacts like poverty gap and gender inequalities to demand accountability and bring change to the system that protects the status quo.
For a small group like Klima Action Malaysia, this also means that the climate movement must provide spaces for vulnerable communities, like the indigenous people, to lead the climate narrative and eventually solutions in this country.
This coalition is working on a wide array of strategies to address the diversity of stakeholders in this issue, as well as people with vested interests in the degazettement of this forest; from showcasing the Temuan culture to litigation. On February 4th, the coalition pursued the second phase of the public campaign for the rakyat to exercise their democratic rights to increase pressure on the Menteri Besar and the executive branch to withdraw the proposal before the final announcement next Month.
Are these emails enough or effective?
Emails flooding alone is certainly not enough but they supplement the coalition's strategies and necessary to reflect the unpopularity of this degazettement proposal and amplify the resistance from the people against natural resources mismanagement and human rights violations.
The proposed degazettement totally ignores the existing policies of the state government. KLNFR is an Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA/KSAS) - Rank 1 under the Third National Physical Plan (RFN-3) and Disaster Risk KSAS under Development Goal Policy 16 (MP16) in the Selangor State Structure Plan 2035 (RSN). It is also designated as a conservation area under the recently gazetted Local Plan for Kuala Langat District (to 2030). Under these plans, no development of any type is allowed in the KLNFR – to avoid serious environmental, economic and social impacts -- PHSKLU coalition statement on 28th January 2021
Public pressure campaigns seeking accountability from state governments, especially in this increasingly dangerous times of the pandemic and emergency, must continue in creative ways to keep the issue afloat and encourage discussions to spark civil interest and action.
"The young activists must collaborate with the older generation of activists, and minimise intergenerational gap by fostering the passing down and sharing on skills as development projects such as this will be even more frequent in the future, and made worse by the climate crisis " said Nadiah to close her presentation
Send your email objection to the Menteri Besar and his excos through Greenpeace's site: https://www.greenpeace.org/malaysia/act/phsklu/
Read the campaign press kit here: https://bit.ly/presskitPHSKLU