More inclusive Ops Lestari for Cameron Highlands: DPM

28 Dec 2018 / 07:22 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Ops Gading, to overcome the rampant opening of land and the uncontrolled cutting of hills, which were the main factors in incidents of landslides in Cameron Highlands, will be changed to Ops Lestari, mirroring the government’s aspiration to help vegetable farmers in the area.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the new federal government wanted to stress that the subsequent phases of Ops Gading would be implemented using numerous and inclusive methods and strategies including strengthening the welfare and well-being of the small farmers.

‘’I also understand that the Ops Gading operations had also caused discomfort among certain quarters involved, specifically small farmers who had worked on their land for generations as a source of income,’’ she said in a statement yesterday.

Wan Azizah said the matter was decided when chairing the 2018 Cameron Highlands Rehabilitation Joint Action Committee Meeting with Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail yesterday.

Ops Gading was implemented from 2015 until 2018 but Ops Gading 1V, which started in Jan 1, 2018 was temporarily postponed from May to Oct 2018.

But Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in a meeting on Oct 5, 2018 had agreed that Ops Gading 1V be continued.

Wan Azizah said the strategies drawn up were important because Cameron Highlands is the major contributor to the sustainability of the national agricultural sector and national food security (supply).

‘’As such, we must ensure the environment is maintained and the welfare of the small farmers and Orang Asli are taken care of. The safety of Orang Asli villages in steep (hilly) areas must be given specific attention besides the well-being of the Orang Asli who are part of the important community in Cameron Highlands,’’ she said.

She also aspired to personally see the condition in Cameron Highlands soon.

She said the next meeting would be held in July 2019 to evaluate the report on the implementation of Ops Gading by the state government on the matters which had been mentioned and deciding on the direction of Ops Gading in the future.

Meanwhile, the Cameron Highlands District and Land Office must overcome the problems of encroachments on government land, river reserves and road reserves by implementing enforcement activities via the existing platforms, she said.

She said the quarters concerned could implement the enforcements at the state and district levels and involving non-government organisations such as farmers associations in the effort to overcome encroachments on government land.

Wan Azizah said the meeting today too had agreed that the temporary licensing process for qualified farmers be speeded up and the Cameron Highlands District and Land Office or local authorities guaranteed the General Operations Force (PGA) with accommodation during enforcement operations.

‘’The meeting today has agreed to urge the Pahang Water Regulatory Body (BKSA) to speed up the business of fixing the specifications on the construction of an agricultural catchment pond in Cameron Highlands,” she said.

In addition, she said all the agencies involved must continue their strategic co-operation to ensure the sustainability of the surroundings and lives. — Bernama

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