Kota Kinabalu: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Vice President, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, dismissed the "creation" of 12 forest reserves in Sabah as a public relations exercise to mislead people and the international community that Sabah still has large tracts of forest reserves.
"Three million hectares of forests were given to various FMU companies for 100 years. What is there left of forest reserves in Sabah? Huge tracts of land are being cleared and destroyed for oil palm plantations.
"They are not telling the truth, it is a mere reclassification, like logged Class II areas now being upgraded to Class I when there are little trees or timbers left," he said in a statement, Tuesday.
Jeffrey, a former Director of Yayasan Sabah, said the present State Government was destroying the State's biodiversity by carrying out an unprecedented forest clearing for oil palm plantations.
"This mono crop practice does no good to our environment. If they are sincere they should get back the land given to Benta Wawasan and revert them as forest reserves, or give them to the landless natives.
"How could they simply assign 19,000 hectares of forest reserves in the East Coast for a Yayasan Sabah subsidiary to plant oil palm trees? This is a disaster to our future environment," he said referring to a police report he had lodged on the matter.
On the hike in salary for State Cabinet Ministers and elected representatives, Dr Jeffrey, a former Bingkor Assemblyman, said, "this is just a bad time to do it".
"They should first think of the income of the poor at this time, and not the income of the Ministers, Assistant Ministers, Speaker and the Yang Berhormats. Where is the slogan "Rakyat Didahulukan" or People First?
"Or it would be better if the State government increases the annual State Assemblyman allocation to RM1 million (from the current RM400,000) so that more benefits go to the people," he said.