“And these have been boggling my mind.
“A day before yesterday, I have instructed all the departments concerned, to go all out (in taking down the culprits) but I think something is wrong somewhere (and) this is for me to investigate further,” says the Menteri Besar.
FACE-TO-FACE... Dato' Sri DiRaja Adnan is seen here, fielding questions posed by the 15-year experienced news presenter, Encik Sohail.
PAHANG FOUNDATION COMPLEX, TANJUNG LUMPUR KUANTAN – Problems still surface despite all sorts of strict regulations introduced and various actions taken to rid of the menace brought about by the bauxite industry in Kuantan.
So much so that the Menteri Besar Dato’ Sri DiRaja Adnan Yaakob has to honestly admit that, ‘something is wrong somewhere’ and has vowed to get to the bottom of it in order to further effectively address the issue.
“We have taken all actions like raiding their (mining) sites. But despite all these, the problem still continues that in a way, puzzles me. And these have been boggling my mind,” said the Menteri Besar.
“A day before yesterday, I have instructed all the departments concerned, to go all out (in taking down the culprits) but I think something is wrong somewhere (and) this is for me to investigate further.
“I don’t know what’s wrong but life is just like that – normally the crooks will (initially) have some sort of upperhand over the enforcement agencies,” he declared in a pre-recorded interview with the international television channel Al Jazeera in the late evening of Wednesday, Oct 21st, here, on the 6th floor.
(Part of this recording is expected to be aired via the television channel's special programme on bauxite, later this month [November]).
FROM ANOTHER ANGLE... Calm and relax. The interview took a few minutes breather - requested by Dato' Sri DiRaja Adnan himself; as a show of respect to the call to Isya' prayer (at 8.05 pm) that can still be heard coming from the loud speaker of the nearby mosque, below.
RM5.2 MILLION WORTH OF SUMMONSES COLLECTED
The 14-minute interview was hosted by an award-winning news and programmes presenter - Encik Sohail A.Rahman, who is the News Anchor & Asia Pacific Correspondent of the international news network, presently based in Kuala Lumpur.
According to Dato’ Sri DiRaja Adnan, seven enforcement agencies headed by the State’s Office of Land and Mines (PTG), were collectively involve in tackling problems arising from the activities of the parties concerned.
And these agencies he stressed, have embarked and executed many kinds of strict regulations and actions including the issuance of summonses and sealing-off machineries belonging to the culprits.
As for the summonses he said, a total worth of about RM5.2 million has been collected thus far of which, RM3.37 million were the value of summonses collected by the Office of PTG alone.
To further check the problem, the State Government he added, even has gone to the extent of revoking 34 holders of the Mining Ore Licenses (MOL) previously issued by the Department of Minerals and Geoscience (JMG), effective July 31st.
‘THEY ARE SIMPLY AN IRRESPONSIBLE LOT’
(MOL were licenses issued by the Department of Minerals and Geoscience (JMG) through which, enabling the holders/operators to buy the minerals from the landowners (mainly from the Bukit Goh Felda Settlement), to clean then to export them).
“Despite all these, the problem keep on coming simply because the operators and the contractors are not responsible. They are simply an irresponsible lot who do not care of the people’s welfare,” he stressed.
He said that he symphatised with the general public particularly with those that their houses being contaminated with dust, or users of public roads that are blanketed with the reddish particles.
“It all boils down to whether the drivers, the contractors, the operators; are ethical or not. And I find from this episode of bauxite mining, they are just greedy people, very greedy. They just don’t care.
“In fact, if the lorries are cleaned before they go out onto the public roads, there shouldn’t be a problem,” he added.
PROBLEMS CREATED ARE VERY ENORMOUS
To a question by the United Kingdom (UK)-born, Encik Sohail whether he was happy with the actions taken by the Government via the seven enforcement agencies, he unhesitantly said that he was not.
“My conscience pricks me, because the people are facing problems. I don’t deny the fact that the lorry operators, the lorry drivers are having thriving income. From the normal RM1,200 to RM2,000 (per month), they are now earning RM7,000 to RM8,000.
"I don’t deny that there are people who set up their stalls to sell food whatever, but despite all these – the problems that this activity caused to the people, is in fact very enormous.
“In fact, this matter can be solved if the contractors, the operators have some sympathy to the general public. It’s just simple. They just clean their lorries before go on to the public roads, make sure their lorries are in tip-top condition, brake-effective – that shoud be okay.
“But the problem is, they just don’t care,” he said.
ADHEREX 120 TO TACKLE AIR POLUTION FROM THE DUST
Dato’ Sri DiRaja Adnan then admitted that air pollution due to dust emitted by the minerals, was very acute in some locations that some people living in these areas, were suffering from respiratory problem.
In order to overcome this he said, the State Executive Council (Exco) was recently briefed by one, Prof Mongi Ferchichi from Canada, on the using of a certain bio-chemical – Adherex 120, as a solution to the air pollution.
“This solution (Adherex 120) will control the dust and it is better than using water. If you use water, after a few minutes the dust will come back, but not with this Adherex 120,” he said.
“They are going to give us a demonstration in two weeks time. We feel that it would be an effective way to control the dust and we might adopt it.
“But still, I would say this – I am not happy with the operation and I still can’t close it (the whole bauxite industry) because many people are getting benefits from this activity.
SOCIAL BENEFITS VS ECONOMIC RETURNS
“But in the final analysis, we’ll give weightage to the welfare of the people at large. Between the economic returns and the social benefits, we’ll give (prominence to) social benefits over the economic returns, ” he added.
Earlier on, the Menteri Besar has categorically stated that how the meagre RM37 million revenue the State Government collected as the five percent tax from bauxite industry, was not important.
“When I mentioned the revenue from bauxite mining was RM37 million, I was just mentioning the figure. I never intended to show that that RM37 million is so important to the State (Government), no,” he stressed.
“But, it (the bauxite industry) is important to the concession holders, to the operators and more importantly to the drivers of lorries transporting the bauxite. In a way, I would say that the spin-off effects is a bit important – (it) creates jobs, (food) stalls being set-up. That’s about all.
“For the State (Government), (the revenue generated directly to it’s coffer is) very minimal,” he added. – Khabar