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Only after the last tree has been cut down;
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Only after the last river has been poisoned;
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- Cree Indian Prophecy

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New "Exit Plan"

By Forest Ang

......"We lead, don't you see", he added....

Have you heard of this new "Exit Plan"?

The problem of water filling up the Air Itam Dam in Penang has been a critical issue since the past years. In the newspaper (The Star 26 June 06) it was reported that farmers cleared forest area around Bukit Penara. The story begins...

exit plan
News cutting from STAR 26 June 2006

The story

Long long time ago, there was an island called the Boleh Island. Its moto was Boleh Land Leads. And sure enough, this Boleh Land did lead in everything she did.

There were farmers who chopped down trees, cleared up forests to plant their crops. Some planted vegetables and some planted fruits, while many planted flowers. Prices of flowers shot up due to the demand created by entrepreneurs on our materialistics' need. They popularized the Valentine, Fathers' day, Mothers' Day, Teachers' Day, and many many other days (just to mention a few).

Being an island, naturally lands were limited. The farmers started to plant their crops on hill slopes. The hill slopes did not encroach on water catchment areas and so the water authority called Pihak Boleh Air (PBA) just couldn't bother about it. But they kept mentioning about water rationing, reduced water level of the dam and even highlighted about leaking pipes.

Up on the hill slopes, crops needed to be watered. So the water needed to water the crops were piped from water sources far from the farm. Water channeled from these water sources were actually within the water catchment area. And so, the dam's level kept reducing and the citizen of the Boleh Island were sometime left dry with occasional rationing. The rakyat kept wandering why raining season just couldn't top up the dam. "Damned it", they said.

The land encroached by the farmers were Forest Reserves' area. The Forest Try Department did not take any action. Then came the rainy season. The farms being cultivated on hill slopes did succumbed to landslide. The Forest Try stepped in. They wanted to be nice. Yes, they were nice people. They did not take any punitive action - "maklum lah we are the caring society" the Forest Try officer added. Then came the State Jalan-Jalan Development and Environment Committee kepala of Boleh Land called YB Tango Charlie Yankee declared that the state of Boleh Land will offer FREE seeds to the farmers to plant back the cultivated land within the next 5-10 years with forest trees. They called it the Exit Plan. Wondered why they don't punish, why taxpayers have to pay for the seeds, why only after 5-10 years to phase out their commercial planting? Well, according to the a council member, "That was the reason why we called Boleh Land"! "We lead, don't you see", he added.

Facts
1. Many pipes can be seen diverting water from the head stream of Air Itam Dam to farms below Bukit Penara.
2. Rampant land clearing of Forest Reserves and on hill slopes were seen all over Penang Island.
3. Water level of Air Itam Dam has never be filled to the rim for the last few years.

Advertisement For Future Farmers
CALLING ALL ENTREPRENEURS. YOU ARE WELCOME TO CLEAR FOREST LANDS IN PENANG. YOU WILL BE GIVEN FREE SEEDS FROM THE EXIT PLAN TO REPLANT BACK THE FOREST. BEFORE THAT YOU CAN PLANT WHATEVER YOU WANT. YOU CAN TAKE AWAY WHATEVER WATER FROM THE CATCHMENT AREAS. DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE 5-10 YEARS PERIOD TO REPLANT BACK THE TREES, AS I MIGHT NOT BE IN THE COMMITTEE AFTER THE STATE ELECTION. ENJOY KILLING OUR ENVIRONMENT.

SIGNED

YB TCY in collaboration with PIHAK BOLEH AIR and FOREST TRY DEPARTMENT.
BOLEH LAND aka PENANG
MALAYSIA

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