Surat Kuning dari Istana halangan penguatkuasaan di Cameron Highlands?

Laporan ini datangnya dari News Straits Times, ianya melaporkan tentang pendedahan tentang apa yang menyebabkan penguat kuasaan undang-undang seolah-olah gagal dijalankan di Cameron Highlands.


CAMERON HIGHLANDS: AS experts warn of the end of Cameron Highlands, authorities who could reverse the travesties in the hills have made a desperate cry for help.

Arguing their case against accusations that they had been closing one eye as the highlands continued to be ravaged by illegal land clearing, these law enforcers, who said they would have discharged their duties more effectively if they were allowed, want the cans of worms of the administration in Cameron Highlands to be ripped wide open.

They are willing to go to great lengths to expose the deeply entrenched multi-level corruption and abuse of power that had contributed to the extensive damage.

For starters, they made available to the New Straits Times an example of an all-powerful document, one of the root causes of environmental problems besieging the highlands.

This document is widely known among not only those in power but those tasked to execute it as surat kuning.

Letters like these are the very bane of enforcers, who had on many occasions, had them shoved in their faces, ultimately forcing them to authorise the land to be “legally” ravaged.

Such letters, which always come without a letterhead, would be addressed to the district officer (DO).

The copy given to the NST showed the sender, allegedly a senior official in the Pahang palace, specifying the exact tract of government land in Kampung Raja he had wanted the Cameron Highlands district office to approve for development.

Kampung Raja was one of the three main areas in Cameron Highlands that was hit by mudslides on Nov 5. It was also near this area that a 13-year-old died on that ill-fated night.

The official, with lineage to the Pahang royal house, said in the letter, “the administration had received an appeal from an applicant to develop a 0.277ha of land and that the businessman would build 16 units of storage (for produce) and that the latter had submitted his application for the purpose.

“... Your (the district officer’s) co-operation and kind assistance in giving this request special consideration is sought and duly approved,” he said before signing off with his royal titles.

The NST has learnt that the issuance of new Temporary Occupation Licences had been frozen since 2001.

Meanwhile, the Pahang palace through an official, said they would not comment on the Cameron Highlands issue and that they would leave it to the state government to handle.

A former DO who served in the highlands “confessed” that all letters pertaining to land matters were kept in a “confidential file” in the DO’s office.

“Only the DO and his secretary have access to the documents,” he said, adding only the DO had the authority to approve such letters.

Another former Cameron Highlands DO said not all surat kuning he received during his tenure in the highlands were from the palace.

“When I receive them, I will check their authenticity with my connections in the palace, including the secretary.

“I verify who exactly the letters were from. However, I don’t usually entertain such letters and had never received any threats for sitting on them,” he said, adding that other district officers had also received these surat kuning.

Meanwhile, authorities looking at plugging the problem of land clearing in the highlands said many farmers considered the land that they had been cultivating as their “god-given right”.

“Say, for instance, the father was given a hectare. When the son joins the business, they will illegally develop the surrounding land areas, ultimately expanding their farms.

“That is why we are seeing farms that cover buffer zones and those that even dip into rivers.

“These irresponsible and greedy parties do everything they can to minimise their costs to rake in high profits. You see them dumping farm waste into the river,” one exasperated officer said.

Meanwhile, those probing the shenanigans going on in Cameron Highlands said there were only a handful of individuals said to have links with the palace that had been exerting their so-called power.

“The sultan has nothing to do with this... In many cases, the good name of the palace is dropped in the hopes authorities would keep a safe distance out of fear or respect,” one source said.

Another set of sources said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had, since 14 years ago, been pushing for various enforcement agencies and local councils to stop illegal land clearing in the highlands.

“They were told to do joint operations, share logistics and intelligence information, and work with the graft busters.

“They did carry out enforcement but it was short-lived and before you knew it, not only were these farmers back in business, they were more aggressive.

“They have brought in more illegal workers into their farms to push up production.

“The problems they have created are manifested in the kind of carnage we are seeing in Cameron Highlands,” they said.

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