It is time to respect Mother Nature

Maybe for a start, we should just stop cutting trees unnecessarily. It is time to see the forest for the trees


YOU can’t fight Mother Nature. No advancement in technology or engineering preparation can prepare us against nature’s wrath.

A case in point is the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed almost 230,000 people — waves over 40m levelled cities and hit shores some 3,000 miles (4,828km) away with a deadly force.

Developments, especially reckless ones, come with a price. The latest incident at Taman Desa, Kuala Lumpur (KL), should serve as a timely reminder for developers and authorities.

Protests against the project had been well-documented. Residents had been lamenting about the safety of the project for more than three years, long before the structure for the high-rise condominium had been erected.

Various engagement sessions had been held between the KL City Hall and residents.

A resident said it was apparent that their complaints had fallen onto deaf ears.

The residents, which subsequently formed a coalition to protect Taman Desa, remained steadfast in their fight, especially after a crane on the project’s site fell into the compound of a condominium nearby in January.

Taman Desa residents want the contractor and developer to fully comply with all safety requirements.

The authority also must take stringent actions and push for deterrent punishments for those guilty of betraying legal grounds.

Despite the many complaints, strangely, nothing seemed to gain the authority’s attention until last week.

Although a stop-work order has been issued, the people at Taman Desa feel that there should be no reason for the project to continue as the area was once marked as a green lung in Kuala Lumpur.

Various quarters have questioned how the project had received approval in the first place. Others have requested the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) to look into the matter.

The Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad is in the hot seat and it is getting hotter every day. He is already facing a conundrum with the Rimba Kiara project. And the Taman Desa’s structural collapse surely removed a few more hours of his sleep. For the record, he was not the minister who approved the projects.

While these cases may take time to be resolved, it is key to look at other developments too.

For a start, over the weekend, environmental groups and activists had questioned and objected against the Selangor Forest Department’s plan to de-gazette 97% of Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve or 930ha for a mixed development project.

According to an Internet user, this is equivalent to 900 rugby fields. The question on everybody’s mind is why the destruction of a forest reserve.

It is reported that the area is a virgin forest that has been home to the Orang Asli since 1886. The forest is home to various plants and animals, including endangered species.

It is beyond sad that such habitats would be sacrificed to build more homes when the country is already facing a glut in unsold properties.

Other lands, especially palm oil plantations are being converted for developments, easing the need to destroy untouched forest.

All is not lost. The people have until March 6 to relay their opposition to the Selangor state government. Hopefully, the government will consider people’s objections.

In light of climate change and global warming, other countries are putting more effort to preserve and conserve the environment. As a nature-rich country, Malaysia should be at the forefront of such an effort.

Last year, Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar said Malaysia aims to plant up to 100 million trees in the next five years as a part of the government’s commitment to protect the environment.

It is a noble aim, but in order for us to gain big, we should start with small steps. Maybe, for a start, we should just stop cutting trees unnecessarily.

It is time to see the forest for the trees.

Azreen Hani is the online news editor of The Malaysian Reserve.