Malaysia: Save Belum-Temenggor campaign

You could have even thrown your support, alongside scores of
Malaysians, behind the Save Belum-Temenggor campaign two years ago.
Don’t stop, for the journey is half travelled. If anything, your
backing is needed now more than ever, writes CHAI MEI LING WE watched
in silence. First, in awe, at the astounding view of the vast body of
water that makes the Temenggor Lake, locked in like a bowl of broth,
by the emerald waves of mountaintops.

And then at logs. Logs with
diameter twice a man’s arm length, chained onto trucks snaking down
the opposite lane of the winding East-West Highway in Gerik. In our
45-minute ascent along the highway to the public jetty in Pulau
Banding, the main gateway to the forest located somewhere in the
middle of the giant lake, at least five trucks were spotted pregnant
with freshly felled logs. It was harder to pinpoint the feeling that
came with the latter sight. The contrasting welcome, of inviting
greenery on one side and red, barren hill slopes on the other, invoked
sadness and anger, a bit of bitterness perhaps.

For corporate figure
and activist Molly Fong, it was “injustice”. “I felt angry. I felt a
sense of injustice, the feeling that this is not right,”Fong, the
general manager of The Body Shop, West Malaysia, pointed out later
into the journey. Organised by environmental group Malaysian Nature
Society and funded by The Body Shop, the trip was a maiden voyage into
the ancient rainforest of northern Perak for most of the media
personnel and The Body Shop people present, Fong including. It was not
hard to understand Fong’s disappointment. For two years now, the
British cosmetics and toiletry brand has backed MNS’s cmpaign for the
protection of the 300,000ha Belum-Temenggor forest complex, an area
four times Singapore’s size.

A natural jewel in Malaysia’s heirloom,
it is the largest continuous forest complex in Peninsular Malaysia,
stretching all the way from Perak up into southern Thailand. Over
3,000 species of flowering plants, some 270 species of birds, and more
than 100 species of mammals, including heavyweights like the Asian
Elephant, Malayan Tiger, Sumatran Rhinoceros, Malayan Tapir, leopard
and sun bear, call it their home. It is also only in Belum-Temenggor
that all 10 hornbill species of Malaysia can be found, including the
globally threatened Plain-pouched Hornbill, present in large flocks of
over 3,000 birds.
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