July 27, 2022
KUALA LUMPUR – Hybrid durian trees, like the Musang King species, are not suitable to be planted in forests, said Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan.
The Energy and Natural Resources Minister said that Musang King was not among the 11 species approved for Gunung Inas in the Kedah project, which had violated the terms on forest farms.
He said the state government had approved the cultivation of Musang King durians for more than 20% of the allowed area in 2019.
“The Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department (JPSM) sees this as a violation of terms because the Musang King is not a forest plantation species and despite that, 5,000 trees were planted in an area of 52ha on Gunung Inas,” said Takiyuddin during Question Time in Parliament yesterday.
Some villagers had claimed the mammoth durian plantation was behind the floods that destroyed their properties on July 4 when Sungai Kupang overflowed after a three-hour downpour.
More than 800 houses in 12 villages were flooded and strong currents swept away 16 houses.
Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim (BN-Baling) asked whether the three water ponds near the durian plantation had caused the tragedy.
“Can we remove these three ponds? It’s like a ticking time bomb and the ponds are only covered with a canvas,” he said.
Takiyuddin, in response, said a joint study by the ministry found those ponds intact and had not ascertained the cause of the floods.
“However, the ministry guarantees if there are proposals to close the ponds, immediate action will be taken. This will also depend on the cooperation of the Kedah government,” he added.
Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail (PH-Kulim Bandar Baru) asked for the ministry to come up with tougher action against the durian plantation.
“Can we do the right thing, with the ministry issuing a clear statement on the matter? I request for a stern order so this episode won’t repeat itself,” he said.
Takiyuddin pointed out that under the Constitution, forestry administrative matters fall under the purview of state governments.
Takiyuddin also said that JPSM had told the Kedah government to gazette Gunung Inas as a forest reserve so that it could act as a water catchment area.
But he reiterated this comes under the purview of the state.
“Whether or not the 5,000 trees planted on the 52ha will be removed will depend on them (the state government).
“The Federal Government can only advise, give their views but not enforce,” added Takiyuddin.
He also said that the investigation report by the ministry into the cause of the Baling floods will be ready by Aug 4.
During a press conference, Datuk Johari Abdul (PH-Sungai Petani) also called on the government to take firmer action against those responsible and to ensure the safety of those affected.
Johari said the minister himself had said there were large boulders near the edge of several cliffs on the mountain, which posed a threat of further deadly landslides.
Dr Azman Ghani (PH-Kuala Kedah) said the government must ensure forest reserves are better protected from commercial activities.