All posts by Yao Hua Law

Cut, Carved, and Cleared: When Big Forests Go

Cut, Carved, and Cleared: When Big Forests Go

How the largest excision in two decades transformed the landscape, economy, and community

Producer/writer: YH Law; Editor: SL Wong

Produced in collaboration with the Rainforest Investigations Network at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.

Published: 21 September 2021

(Forest cleared for oil palm in Jemaluang, Johor | Video by IMR Kreatif)

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State Forestry Departments Share Their Successes

In their own words, state forestry directors in Peninsular Malaysia tell us their major achievements in the last two decades.

IN PENINSULAR Malaysia, state governments and their agencies control forests.

About 85% of the forests are classified as permanent reserve forests and managed by state forestry departments.

For a story that examines 20 years of forest management results, we asked foresters to recount their successes (in 70 words) since 2000.

(Photo: A logging road through a forest reserve in Johor, 2020. Pic by YH Law)






Read this article in English. Baca artikel dalam Bahasa Malaysia.

奥玛拉尼(Omar Rani)是一名来自彭亨Kampung Berengoi的原住民。他和村里的原住民都是文盲。他们自称:“我们从未上过学。”

去年,他们被要求签署一封同意书,以获得YP Olio私人有限公司提供的免费房子。尽管他们对纸上一个字都看不懂,但他们还是签了字。他们信任的是陪同该公司代表前来的政府官员。

(照片: 在彭亨州的Kampung Berengoi 和 Kampung Mesau的原住民村民齐声抗议发展商在他们的习俗地上伐木。拉尼吉纳(左一), 萨尼科蒂 (左二), 奥玛拉尼(中坐), 马鲁夫阿都拉(右一) | 摄影:Aminah A/P Tan Kay Hoe.)

Continue reading 彭亨伐木项目加剧原住民土地权的斗争

Pembasmian Hutan di Pahang menghambat perjuangan hak tanah Orang Asli

Sebuah projek perladangan di Pahang akan membasmi hutan primer seluas 85km2. Projek ini dibantah oleh penduduk Orang Asli sejak 2019. Namun demikian, terdapat dua surat persetujuan yang ditandatangani penduduk Orang Asli yang kononnya menyuarakan sokongan untuk projek tersebut. Apa sebenarnya yang terjadi?

Diterjemahkan daripada Bahasa Inggeris oleh Adriana Nordin Manan.

Read this article in English. 点击阅读中文版.

OMAR RANI ialah penduduk Orang Asli dari Kampung Berengoi, Pahang. Beliau dan teman Orang Asli sekampung buta huruf – atau seperti dibahasakan mereka: “Kami tidak bersekolahan.”

Tahun lepas, mereka diminta menandatangani surat untuk menerima rumah percuma daripada sebuah syarikat swasta, YP Olio Sdn Bhd. Meskipun tidak memahami sepatah perkataan yang tertulis, Omar dan penduduk sekampung bersetuju untuk menandatangan; mereka percaya kepada pegawai kerajaan yang menemani wakil syarikat.

(Foto: Penduduk Orang Asli di Kampung Berengoi and Kampung Mesau, Pahang, menyuara bantahan mereka terhadap pembalakan atas tanah adat mereka. Rani (kiri pertama), Sani (kiri kedua), Omar (duduk tengah), Abdullah (kanan pertama) | Jurugambar: Aminah A/P Tan Kay Hoe.)

Continue reading Pembasmian Hutan di Pahang menghambat perjuangan hak tanah Orang Asli

Deforestation project in Pahang exacerbates Orang Asli land rights struggle

A plantation project in Pahang wants to clear almost 85km2 of primary forest. The Orang Asli who live on the site have been protesting the logging since 2019. But there are two letters signed by the illiterate villagers which purportedly show their support for the logging. What happened?

A version of this story first appeared on Southeast Asia Globe on 21 June 2021.

Baca artikel dalam Bahasa Malaysia. 点击阅读中文版

OMAR RANI is an Orang Asli who lives in the village of Kampung Berengoi in Pahang. Omar and his fellow Orang Asli villagers are illiterate – or as they put it: “We haven’t gone to school”.

Last year, they were asked to sign letters to receive free houses from private company YP Olio Sdn Bhd. Though unable to read a word, Omar and the villagers signed them; they trusted the government officers who accompanied the company’s representatives.

(Photo: The Orang Asli at Kampung Berengoi and Kampung Mesau gathered to speak out against logging around their homes. Rani (first left), Sani (second left), Omar (seated center), Abdullah (first right). Pic by Aminah A/P Tan Kay Hoe.)

Continue reading Deforestation project in Pahang exacerbates Orang Asli land rights struggle

Can Oil Palm Explain The Lower Forest Loss Here?

Last year, tropical forest loss increased worldwide but Malaysia cut down less than it did the previous year, the fourth year it has done so. What explains this good news?

[First posted on 27 April, 12.17pm.]

Last year, the world lost 12% more tropical forest than it did in 2019, according to satellite census by forest monitoring platform Global Forest Watch. Malaysia bucked the global trend: it lost less. 

In fact, Malaysia has trimmed its primary forest losses four years in a row. Losses fell from about 185,000 hectares in 2016 to nearly 73,000 hectares in 2020 (Figure 1).

At the same time, there is a slow down in the expansion of the sector most frequently linked to deforestation – oil palm. Oil palm area in Malaysia contracted in 2020 – the first drop in 44 years.

Could this explain Malaysia’s recent downtrend in primary forest losses? And can we expect forest loss to drop further?

(Photo: Malaysia has been losing less primary forest since 2016. Graph: YH Law)

Continue reading Can Oil Palm Explain The Lower Forest Loss Here?

Forest-use: The Public Wants A Say


Juggling between development and environmental conservation is difficult when it comes to forest-use. But there are ways to be more inclusive. This is Part 4 of Forest Files.

MALAYSIA has had decades of continuous economic and population growth since independence.

In 2019, the country achieved a gross domestic production (GDP) of about RM1.5 trillion, more than a hundred-times the GDP in the 1960s. The population almost quadrupled over the same period.

However, before Malaysia industrialised in the 1980s, it exploited its natural resources, including its most accessible at that time: primary forests, some of the oldest in the world.

(Public participation allows citizens affected by forest-use change to voice out; pictured at the North Kuala Langat Forest Reserve degazettement townhall are [clockwise from top] Kg OA Pulau Kempas’s Tonjoi Bin Pipis and Batin Raman Pahat, and Kg OA Busut Baru’s Rosnah Anak Senin. Pics by Shakila Zen/KUASA)


Revenue and Power Drive Forest Area Changes


To understand forest-use dynamics in Peninsular Malaysia, one must know how state governments – the sole authority on land use – perceive forests. This is Part 3 of Forest Files.

IN AUGUST 2019, when then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched a forestry exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, he took the audience down memory lane.

“At the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, as the Prime Minister of Malaysia back then, I made a pledge that Malaysia is committed to maintain at least 50 percent of our land mass under forest cover,” said Mahathir.

(Photo: Logs, like these harvested from a permanent reserve forest in Johor, are an important source of revenue for many state governments. Pic by YH Law.)