Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Road to Nowhere leads to Ecological Ruin

If the "road upgrading" was genuinely for the benefit of the Orang Asli, why make it wide enough for tour buses and lorries? Most of the villagers access their durian orchards on motorbike. Wouldn't the simplest, most cost effective solution be to present them with a small lorry?

The Selangor State government issued contractor Tan a stop-work order via the Ulu Selangor District Council on September 9th - and he did stop work for several days. But, as I expected, work soon recommenced on the instruction of Wong Koon Mun, the MCA state assemblyman for Kuala Kubu Bharu. Wong's story was that the Batin of Kg Pertak, Bidar Chik, had approached him to upgrade the access road to the Orang Asli's durian orchards and rubber plantations.

I've known Batin Bidar Chik (right) for nearly 18 years and I can't imagine him doing such a thing. First of all, Bidar isn't really all that concerned about "improving the lot" of his anak buah (community) ; he's only interested in two things, alcohol and money. And secondly, Bidar Chik is a wily old fox and he gave up on the authorities a long time ago. His cynicism is perfectly justified as I have never once in the 18 years I've resided in the area observed the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (Orang Asli Affairs Department) do anything positive for the community. They are only interested in two things: making a bit of money on the side from facilitating logging concessions, and converting as many Orang Asli as possible to Islam. In short, I seriously doubt that Bidar Chik would have had the initiative to approach Wong Koon Mun and ask that the road be upgraded. I'm told that Wong Koon Mun is trying to persuade Bidar Chik to appear at a press conference and claim that the road upgrading initiative was his idea. Contractor Tan has already handed Bidar a generous angpow (red packet stuffed with cash).

MCA Wong (pictured left) is apparently feeling a bit pressured. Various influential people have been calling the District Officer and asking about the illegal roadworks going on in Kg Pertak. No permit was applied for and no signboard was put up before the heavy equipment moved in. I am reliably informed - by the Special Branch, no less - that the person who lodged a police report against me was in fact Rapi - an Orang Asli from Kg Tun Abdul Razak (near Kuala Kubu Bharu). Rapi accuses me of conspiring with "foreigners" to block "development" for the Orang Asli. That's right, I'm channeling Bruno Manser - and that's a very serious crime in post-Mahathir Malaysia!

In fact, it was Rapi who first announced, about six months ago or more, that plans were afoot to widen the old logging trail that runs parallel to the Luit River. Rapi happens to be an Umno member and has been known to serve as middleman for many questionable schemes involving Orang Asli land. Rapi doesn't live in Kg Pertak. So why should he be so enthusiastic about "upgrading" the access road to the durian orchards? In any case, Wong Koon Mun's claim that Batin Bidar Chik of Kg Pertak requested his help to facilitate the roadworks must be taken with a very large pinch of salt.

Truth is, word has trickled to my ears that MCA Wong has been eyeing the area for some years. A local resident informed me that Wong had once attempted, unsuccessfully, to alienate several acres of forest reserve for himself. I haven't met Wong Koon Mun and have had no opportunity to ask him to his face if this rumor is indeed true - and even if I did, I'm quite sure he would vehemently deny it. After all, he's a Barisan Nasional stalwart - and everybody with even half a functioning brain cell knows that nobody joins the MCA except to enrich themselves at the public's expense. They are most definitely NOT in the MCA "to serve the Chinese community" - what more the Orang Asli!

Last week the entire village was abuzz with the maddening din of bushcutters. Some sort of massive gotong-royong (community project) had been initiated by the Orang Asli Affairs Department. It culminated with the erection of a bamboo arch near the village entrance. I asked my sister-in-law what the hubbub was in aid of, and she shyly told me that Najib was planning to visit Kg Pertak on October 14th.

What? The crime minister himself? What could possibly inspire him to make an official visit to my neck of the woods? Could he be a secret follower of my blog - and this "official visit" was merely an excuse to catch a glimpse of his hero?

I subsequently learnt that the bamboo arch wasn't intended to welcome Najib to Kg Pertak, after all. Some other bigwig - possibly Noh Omar, entrepreneur and cooperative development minister - was scheduled to make a grand tour of Ulu Selangor and ensure that the Orang Asli continue to vote BN.*

Whoever shows up, it's bad news for Mother Nature, especially if they're from Umno.

(Pertak pics courtesy of Ecowarriorz)

NEWSFLASH! NO SHOW FROM BN!
At 11:30AM, Friday, 2 October, Wong Koon Mun had planned a press conference in Kg Pertak to establish that the Orang Asli are in favor of the road upgrade (of course they are, since most people would like a smoother ride, but most people don't live in a densely forested catchment area!) The press would be present, and also T. Murugiah, minister in the PM's department in charge of the Public Complaints Bureau.

It is now 1:30PM. Reporters from
Nanyang Siang Pau and The Star did show up, along with a group of concerned citizens who cherish the beauty of this area. District councillor Chua Yee Ling also made an appearance to brief the journalists. She said that the stand of the Selangor state government remains very clear and simple: no matter who initiated and funded the roadworks, they must abide by council regulations and ensure that the standard procedures are adhered to. Unfortunately, T. Murugiah canceled out at the last minute and Wong Koon Mun decided to stay put in his KKB office. The Star is now interviewing Batin Bidar Chik. The saga continues with no definite resolution...
ROAD TO NOWHERE ~ UPDATE

*As it turns out the bigwig in whose honor the bamboo arch was erected was not all that big - it was only Mohd Sani Mistam, director-general of the Orang Asli Affairs Department (JHEOA), who came to launch a 2-day "Rancangan Mesra Minda" which generated a kampong fun-fair atmosphere and a hideous amount of noise and rubbish in Kg Pertak.



15 comments:

eiling lim said...

They can do whatever they want or try to cover up as much as they want but they have to know that the "rakyat" is not stupid. We know perfectly why politicians want to be politicians. "It's all about the $$$..."

julian said...

wow pink lips, nor omar and other so called bigwigs from umno (dying a slooooow death) party wanna visit the orang asli there????
lol looking at the so called road i wonder what would happen to the poor folks living there when it rains----------swim?
still trying to convert the people there to be muslims????? lol the people there got more knowledge than all the cabinet ministers combined

Deep said...

Hope The Star will be able to help. Will ask Siok Hui to contact u.

~sukhi sidhu~ said...

damn it antares, should we just sumpit all of this ppl..

Antares said...

Eiling - Not ALL politicians are in it for $$$. Take LKS and Karpal, for instance. Both are extraordinary legal minds and would have become fabulously wealthy if they had gone into corporate law and served the towkays. Same goes for Sivarasa Rasiah, whom I've known since 1988. He certainly has never been in it for the money. So long as Mammon Temples (the Big Banks) exist we are all forced to play the money game - but decent humans only play to get by, not to get so fat they can't see their own willies.

Julian - What you're seeing is "Roadworks in progress." MCA Wong threatens to ASPHALT the entire stretch (typical Chinaman, spray weedkiller on his front lawn, then cement it over, no snakes mah!) - which would be 20 times worse! Why?
In no time we'll have diesel-fume spewing tourist buses plying up & down the jungle, ruining forever the serenity and integrity of yet another rainforest ecosystem in a delicate watershed zone. This may mean "progress" to money-minded men like MCA Wong... but to those of us who truly appreciate the healing and soul-nourishing properties of this last green haven in Selangor, an asphalt mini-highway through the Pertak forest reserve would spell D-E-A-T-H of everything we hold sacred. Of course, if you've been voting Umno, MCA or MIC for generations, you wouldn't have a clue what I'm talking about.

Deep - Thanks, bro. Siok Hui just spoke to me on the phone. I wouldn't have been inspired to call The Star. Aren't they still an MCA-owned paper? Anyway, publicity could help. No ecorapist can endure a powerful flashlight being shone on their shiny arses.

Sukhi - When you sumpit MCA Wong and his Umno cronies, please aim for their willies. That's what ecorapists deserve. Even tongkat ali won't help...

masterwordsmith said...

My dear Antares,

I take my hats off to you for your deep love for Mother Nature and all that you have done to preserve her beauty. Whilst I laud and magnify your writing prowess, sharp thinking and ability to join the missing dots in the picture, my blood boils as I wonder why some do not seem to share our love for Mother Nature.

And She is most unhappy as can be seen by the spate of natural disasters.

If these characters who seemingly move in the body of a human minus the conscience do not heed the warnings of Mother Nature, what will happen to us?

Sighs...

Antares said...

MCA Wong is probably taking a cue from his colleague, MCA Tiong, from Sarawak - the man behind the PKFZ scam! :-)

Eric said...

Antares,

what can we fellow Anak Bangsa Malaysia do to help our Orang Asli sisters and brothers?

Do you think a candle light vigil, or similar, during Pink Lips' visit would help?

1 Black Malaysia.

Antares said...

Eric - Pink Lips won't be coming here but TOMORROW (2 Oct) there will be a press conference in Kg Pertak. If you can make it, come show your face and articulate your objection to building an asphalted highway through the forest! Bring some friends and be prepared to get wet in the river afterwards :-)

Call yourself idiot said...

I honestly feel that this article was a stupid comment made by ugly face and ugly voice Antares. Why object when there is effort to upgrade the infrastructure that is much needed many years ago? Are you sick? If you were stupid, don't let many others know about it. Keep your stupidity to yourself. What a silly article that duped me to read it.

Anonymous said...

MCA Wong, take a que from me, you mess with nature and you may just be run over by a lorry next Tuesday at 1100 hrs. If you cannot understand my message then perhaps your daughter will.

Shalom

Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

Since I've been to the site a number of times I can only ad the following. I've No objection to development, only where it is done without any safety issues addressed. Say, cutting into an unstable hill dead smack in the monsoon season, zero effort to cover denuded ground, digging a drainage trough angled AGAINST hill elevation [something I've only seen in the backwaters of Africa- tragic results there].

Only the blind and naive would have to agree to something like this. Politics and illegal project notwithstanding, this is not only a road to nowhere. It's also a road no one can use when the inevitable landslip happens.

art harun said...

Is there a teeeny weeeny space on this land of ours that is sacred? That is safe from greed?

Khabs said...

Antares,

We are fortunate to have you investing your precious life to defend that which we neglect.

Thank you.

Gerald Wee Eng Kian said...

Wow, these guys don't have the stones between their legs to show up to explain themselves. I suppose that bamboo arch so graciously put up at kg Pertak will be put to better use now. Like firewood or a not welcome banner holder for cowards.