Politicians’ foolish ideas of ‘development’

The cabinet should not let the states destroy rich food-producing areas, whether on land or at sea

Rice farmers at work - Photograph: salafiyunpad.wordpress.com

At a time when humans are plundering planet Earth so much that even its climate is changing (resulting in global warming) and straining their own food supplies to the limit, what are the priorities of Malaysian politicians?

Many of them think nothing about destroying invaluable food-producing area on land and at sea?

About 15 years ago, certain quarters in their pursuit of wealth tried to destroy the most productive paddy lands in Sekinchan in northwest West Selangor for holy ‘development’ in pursuit of monetary wealth. After much protest, the idea was dropped.

Then we have the Penang state government launching an ‘attack’ in the Bay of Teluk Kumbar. The rich fishing waters here supply an abundance of ikan kembung (Indian mackerel) and other seafood, a key source of protein for the lower-income group.  

In trying to justify the destruction of these abundant fishing waters, again in the holy name of ‘development’ the Penang state executive councillor for infrastructure and transport, Zairil Khir Johari,had the impudence to publicly say that the bay was nothing but “shallow muddy water’.

Several months ago, enforcement teams destroyed about 15,000 musang king durian trees in Raub in Pahang. The reason: the trees were on state land and planted illegally. Yes, they were, but the planting was done about 20 years ago, not in 2020 or 2021.

Where were the same enforcement teams the past 20 years? Having closed the eyes for 20 years, what suddenly opened their eyes?

The latest drama unfolding is in the Kanthan region, which is the largest single market gardening site in Perak covering an area over 400ha. About 130 third-generation farmers are tilling the soil here and producing about 50 to 60 tons of fresh vegetables a day.

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What’s praiseworthy of them is that they are doing it without government aid.      

But out of the blue, they received legal notices recently to clear out within 30 days to make way for more holy ‘development’ that would make money for presumably for those already rich.

Malaysia is so dependent on other countries for the supply of fresh vegetables and garden produce. Yet, the food-producing land and seas that we have are being looked upon as hindrances to development.

This utterly penny wise pound foolish ‘wisdom’ of our politicians is appalling.  They cannot be bothered about ordinary people but are concerned about ‘projects’ for developers to make money.

This raises the big question whether people in politics who make such decisions have some hidden interests of their own (udang sebalik batu)?

What is the cabinet’s vision of self-sufficiency in food production for our own consumption? Is it not concerned about this?

Land may be a state matter, but agriculture is a federal matter with a ministry for it. So the cabinet should not shrug its shoulders and let the states destroy rich food-producing areas, whether on land or at sea.

The cabinet should act to preserve all existing food-producing areas (and legalise any illegal ones that have been operating for decades and even generations) and increase the country’s capacity to achieve self-sufficiency in food production. 

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