Questions that need to be answered by Pahang State Secretary Datuk Seri Dr Sallehuddin Ishak on the operation of farm demolition at Sungai Ichat

An enforcement operation was commenced by the State Government on February 25. In this operation, 61 farms with the size of 55 hectares are involved in this two-phase operation. Eleven farms are involved in the first phase which is expected to end in the middle of this month, whereas the second phase involving 50 farms will begin in the coming April.

To answer the questions on the enforcement operation towards farms at Sungai Ichat, Kuala Terla, Cameron Highlands, several allegations were made by Pahang State Secretary Datuk Seri Dr Sallehuddin Ishak against the farmers.

Among all, Dr. Sallehuddin Ishak alleged that the farms are located at the intake of Sungai Ichat dam, from which 70 percent of its water is channelled to residents in Cameron Highlands. He also said that the farmers had been given evacuation notice since 2009, hence time to relocate is never an issue.

Nevertheless, based on the memorandum prepared by farmers, Dr Sallehuddin’s accusations appear inaccurate and untrue. Therefore, several questions must be clarified by the Pahang State Government before the operations proceeds in order to avoid any confusion and scepticism.

In late 2009, a dialogue session was held between the State Authority (Pihak Berkuasa Negeri) and farmers, and was attended by the former member of Parliament SK Devamany and the former Pahang EXCO member Hoh Khai Mun. The outcome of the dialogue was that farmers are allowed to continue farming at Sungai Ichat.

In 2002, the Water Supply Department instructed farmers to vacate the river reserve land, namely 15 feet from river to their farms to ensure that the river is clean. A septic tank is also required to be built at every farm.

  1. Based on the memorandum, Datuk Seri Sallehuddin Ishak’s allegation that farmers were given evacuation notice since 2009 is incorrect as dialogues with farmers were still being organised until the year of 2012. He has to clarify why there are 2 different versions of statements.
  2. Why doesn’t the State Government tackle the source of water pollution at the upstream of Sungai Terla first since the river now provides water to Kuala Terla Water Treatment Plant?
  3. We have to understand that water pollution at the upstream of Sungai Terla is far more critical than Sungai Ichat. Hence, is such operation a selective enforcement?

This operation is affecting 61 farms and hundreds of families who have been farming for decades. Therefore, the state government should act in a more humane way and give the farmers a way out, such as relocating them. I urge the State Government to stop the Special Operation towards farmers for some time in order to look for a win-win solution, or issue a longer notice period so that the farmers can harvest before their farms are demolished.

Chiong Yoke Kong
SA FOR TANAH RATA
Media statement by Chiong Yoke Kong in Cameron Highlands on Wednesday, 13th March 2019