KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 9 (Bernama) — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has recommended that a task force be set up to curb corruption responsible for the illegal explorations in Cameron Highlands.
MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner (Prevention) Datuk Mustafar Ali said the team was needed for effective enforcement and to allow action to be taken fairly, without pressure or influence from any parties.
He said a policy controlling the entry and identity of foreign workers, especially in Cameron Highlands, was also necessary to prevent illegal exploration of agricultural areas.
“Besides that, we also recommend looking into the issuance of Temporary Occupation Licence (TOL) to restrict illegal exploration of government land, avoid the construction of permanent buildings on TOL land as well as enforcement of the Land Conservation Act 1960/Pahang Enactment No. 13 (Heavier Fines and Penalties).
“Creating a detection system to avoid allegations involving royalties, politicians and senior government officers with any quarters claiming to have a part in any matters to preserve the good name of the party,” he said in a statement here today.
Mustafar also recommended that appropriate action be taken to facilitate the management and enforcement on illegal ventures, such as restricting the use of heavy machinery, monitoring the influx of foreign workers in Cameron Highlands and stepping up enforcement operations on weekends and public holidays.
“A clear policy needs to be determined regarding the development of high lands in Cameron Highlands and the policy is needed to facilitate enforcement and administration of land in Cameron Highlands.
Other recommendations raised by the MACC includes gazetting and marking the borders of permanent forest reserves. Cultivation zones are set up for the Orang Asli, thereby limiting the shifting cultivation areas.
“Having a functional complaint system for people to lodge complaints, reports or provide information on illegal activities and misconduct,” he said.
He said among the recommendations that had been considered and being implemented was the setting up of two separate authorities, namely the Cameron Highlands District Council and Cameron Highland District and Land Office.
Mustafar said the proactive action by the MACC was for integrated efforts to be taken by all parties to prevent any opportunity for corruption, abuse of power and misappropriation as well as weaknesses in the administration and enforcement.
This followed an inspection which revealed several serious issues requiring integrated action from all parties including ‘lightning’ contractors, made up of local and immigrants, who operate on weekends and public holidays to avoid detection of illegal exploration by authorities, he said.
“Less coordination between the agencies means the enforcement cannot be done professionally, making it difficult for the prosecution to obtain the statements and evidence. As a result, legal action cannot be taken on those responsible and the offences will continue,” he said.
Mustafar said because there was no clear proclamation on the permanent forest reserve areas in Cameron Highlands, vegetable farmers and the Orang Asli community used it as an excuse to explore the areas illegally.
“Besides that, vegetable farmers hide behind the privileges of the Orang Asli and use the permanent forest reserves as a place to roam, gather forest products and grow crops by setting up new farms in these areas.
“Allegations and misuse of names of politicians and members of the royal family have allowed some quarters to carry out illegal activities,” he said.
He said the MACC has tabled the actions and early findings to the Anti-Corruption and Consultative Panel (PPPR), which is one of five independent bodies monitoring the journey of the MACC.
“The PPPR chaired by Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar has taken note of MACC’s actions and welcomed the proposal for action to be taken quickly so that holistic preventive measures can be executed,” he said.
Mustafar said the MACC would also bring the proposals to the National Integrity and Governance Committee Meeting on Nov 25.
“A serious approach will be taken which includes amending legal provisions to tackle the issue of illegal exploration. Illegal explorers and loggers must be given a heavy punishment to prevent problems in Cameron Highlands from recurring,” he said.