Ngeh denies firm’s involvement in logging on Kelantan land

Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider

Perak DAP chief Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham today denied a news report claiming that Upayapadu Plantation Sdn Bhd has been logging for timber on a piece of land in Kelantan, which Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmakers recently alleged had been corruptly awarded to the firm.

The Beruas MP clarified in a statement here that the firm was instead involved in a reforestation project that was previously encouraged and supported by both the Kelantan state and federal governments.

“I would like to emphasise that Upayapadu Plantation Sdn Bhd has not taken out any single log from the land it has undertaken to do reforestation since some investors and I took over the company in April this year,” he said.

Ngeh insisted that the news report, carried by a Malay daily yesterday, was a lie, and alleged that the pictures published in the newspaper showing timber being carted out of the land had likely been taken from elsewhere.

He said that contrary to the report, he and other investors in Upayapadu were merely carrying out reforestation at the site, in order to help produce sufficient, sustainable timber supply for the future.

“Apart from the Kelantan government, the project undertaken by Upayapadu Plantation was supported by the then Plantation Industries and Commodities Industries minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui and the then deputy minister of Rural and Regional Development Datuk Awang Adek Hussin,” he said.

Ngeh also denied that the reforestation project would affect the livelihood of the Orang Asli, claiming that none of the indigenous tribes live on the said land.

“I have been transparent and have explained all questions raised with regards to Upayapadu Plantation Sdn Bhd.

“I believe BN raised it to divert attention from the billions of ringgit worth of land scandals that I have raised,” he said.

Ngeh and his cousin and Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming have been, in recent days, accused by BN lawmakers in the Perak legislative assembly of getting kickbacks from PAS in exchange for letting PAS take the mentri besar’s position after the 12th general elections four years ago.