CAMERON HIGHLANDS – A farm here that had been illegally expanded right to side of a main road could not have escaped the eyes of Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was here to see for himself travesties against the highlands.
Not a soul was on it but the evidence of illicit activities was clear, an excavator and a tractor lie near where structures had been erected and crops were awaiting harvest.
His immediate directive for a police report to be lodged, the land sealed and the structures torn down could not have been more welcomed by those present.
Muhyiddin seemed dismayed that the farm in Habu, here, had been allowed to expand and operate illegally right under the noses of the authorities, more so when he was told that the land under the Temporary Operating Licence allowed for only 0.404ha to be cultivated.
The farmâ€™s operators had opened up another 0.350ha.
Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, who was with him, appeared to be taken aback as well.
â€œHow can this happen when the farm is just by the roadside?
â€œThe police can identify the culprits and take action.
â€œAfter you lodge a police report, I want the land sealed and the illegal structures torn down,â€ Muhyiddin said to district officer, Datuk A. Rahman Hamzah.
Muhyiddin also presented aid to families at the Tanah Rata District and Land Office, where he had earlier chaired the Special Committee on Flash Floods in Cameron Highlands meeting.
Labourer Mat Noon Mayam spoke of the Nov 5 tragedy in his small home in Jalan Tisu.
He said powerful gushes of water begun flooding his house suddenly, leaving him helpless as his home was inundated under 1m of muddy water.
Today, Mat Noon and his family of four, along with 10 other families, received RM750 each from Muhyiddin, courtesy of the Welfare Department and the National Security Council.
In Ipoh, Forestry Department director-general Datuk Seri Dr Abd Rahman Abd Rahim said a massive exercise to make the highlands green again would begin by the middle of next year.
He said the department would also draw up a five-year blueprint to reforest Cameron Highlands.
â€œA task force will identify the areas where trees will be planted,â€ he said, adding that the immediate focus would be the buffer zones of rivers and slopes.
However, Rahman cautioned that the exercise would be meaningless if farmers did not practise good farming.
â€œWith sustainable farming, there should be no sedimentation and landslides.â€
Rahman acceded that the permanent forest reserves here had not been spared by farmers. – NST