Media Statement

WATER WATCH PENANG thanks the Kedah State Government for not issuing any new logging concessions and its stand to continue the previous Kedah State Government’s policy to protect the Ulu Muda Forests (Main water catchment for the three northern peninsula states of Kedah, Perlis and Penang). 

George Town 27 May 2020: Water Watch Penang, an NGO based in Penang, working on various national and inter-state water issues including its aim to work together with the state governments of Kedah, Perlis and Penang, and other parties to protect the Greater Ulu Muda Forests, which form the main water catchment for the three northern peninsula states of Kedah, Perlis and Penang, would like to applaud the new Kedah Menteri Besar, YAB Haji Muhammad Sanusi Md. Nor and the Kedah State Government for confirming that the recent press statement was not a suggestion to open up new logging concessions. In fact, it was a suggestion to solve current forestry issues due to previously approved logging concessions that were cancelled by the previous government. We applaud this brave and bold move to continue protecting the Ulu Muda forest. 

The Greater Ulu Muda Forest is the main water catchment forest for the Muda Dam, Pedu Dam and Ahning Dam. These three dams regulate the supply of drinking water to more than 4 million people in the three states of Kedah, Perlis and Penang. This important water source also supports the vital industries of Kedah (Kulim High Tech Park and elsewhere) and Penang (Penang Free Trade Zone or “Silicon Valley of Malaysia”). In terms of irrigation, the Greater Ulu Muda water catchment is vital for the MUDA Irrigation Scheme of Muda Agriculture Development Authority (MADA) which is considered the “Rice Bowl” of Malaysia. Other than the MADA granary area, water from this catchment is also used to irrigate other vast paddy fields in Kedah, Perlis and mainland Penang. This irrigation enables the cultivation of two paddy harvests a year. The MADA and other paddy fields provide nearly 50% of the nation’s rice production is of utmost importance to Malaysia’s food security.  

Other than water resources, the Greater Ulu Muda Forests are extremely rich in biodiversity comprising endangered/threatened large mammals such as the Asian elephant, Malayan sun bear, Malayan tapir, all 10 species of hornbills, the sambar deer, as well as over 320 species of birds. 

Ultimately, we propose that the Greater Ulu Muda Forest be gazetted as a Water Catchment in order to protect it. In this respect, Water Watch Penang would like to offer technical assistance to the Kedah State Government drawing upon the wide range of water expertise available through its members in sustainable water resources management. 

We eagerly look forward to contributing positively to the establishment and management of a fully protected Water Catchment area in the Greater Ulu Muda Forest. 

Professor Dr Chan Ngai Weng,

President,

Water Watch Penang

nwchan1@gmail.com

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