WELCOME TO R.E.A.C.H

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R.E.A.C.H is a community based organisation formed in 2001 by a group of Cameron Highlands residents alarmed by the rapidly deteriorating environment especially the declining forests and water quality. R.E.A.C.H. aims to preserve, restore and maintain Cameron Highlands as an environmentally sustainable agriculture and hill resort within a permanent nature reserve. We strive to maintain a balance between environmental protection and development and to safeguard water catchment areas as a vital resource for the highlands and lowlands. It is now run by a group of volunteers with funds from membership, donations, small grants, reforestation activities and sales of souvenirs.

REACH 14TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (2014)

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2 February 2014,

Dear REACH Members

Notice in hereby given that REACH 14th, Annual General Meeting will be held as follows:

Date : 8 March 2014, Saturday
Time : 4.00 pm
Venue : BARRE CENTER, Tanah Rata

Your attendance and support is greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Pls refer the Minutes of Meeting for the 13th Annual General Meeting 2013

13 AGM Minutes 2013

Montane Bird Book of Cameron Highlands (coming soon)

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REACH is in the process of putting together a bird book entitled ’Montane Birds of Cameron Highlands”. We are proud to announce that all the images, text, verification and design has been undertaken purely by a group of dedicated birders.

The article (on page 2)  was written by Dr.Cheam three years ago after her first encounter with my birder friends , teachers and mentors. Look out for our “home grown” , volunteer driven bird book.

We target to have it out in print by mid-year 2014.

Last call for good images of birds photographed in Cameron Highlands.

Mar 06

3/3/14 -Land of Opportunity

3rd March 2014-When one comes from a country raked in poverty and famine, with a population density of more than 1000/km2 and everywhere you look is a sea of humanity, the will to survive is strong. So strong in fact that you are willing to fork out a huge amount of money to people smugglers to take you to this  land of opportunity .You are willing to brave treacherous  journeys across war torn countries , spent months in the malaria infested jungles, drenched in rain, half starved for you have heard that great riches await those who reached the shores of  this beautiful country called Malaysia . You have heard that in many areas in Malaysia, food is plentiful and laws are lax.

One such area is Cameron Highlands. Words have come that in a neighboring village a man called Jasir Miah could  buy padi fields, a rice factory, a  big house  and have 4 wives after spending only 8 years in Cameron Highlands.  “Where  is this place called Cameron Highlands?” you ask yourself, “ I have to reach it. There are tons of money to be made there.”

So our town which is surrounded by greens and drenched in corruption becomes a magnet to foreign workers , legal and illegal. Currently there are more than 10,000 legal foreign workers  here . They are mainly from our neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh. Myammar, Indonesia , Nepal , Cambodia and Vietnam with Bangladeshis forming the majority.

Most of them work in the agricultural sector . The rest are in the service sector ( including in the hotel industry  and as domestic maids) and in construction. They are usually industrious, do not mind working in tough conditions and for extended hours.  Many have an entrepreneurial  spirit. Their desire to earn money to help their families back home is very strong. So bending rules to achieve their aims becomes  common

While  we  welcome legal foreign workers as they are needed in our farms and other sectors of the economy if they come here illegally , become involved in businesses and deprive our  locals of their sources of income, spread  diseases and create a demand for illegally cleared land, we see red. . (Foreign workers “businesses” in Cameron Highands now include food and souvenirs stalls, hotels, grocery shops, taxis and transport lorries.)

Yes,  workers ,legal and illegal, are now the biggest culprits clearing land illegally in Cameron Highlands.

Typically when a foreign worker first arrives here, he will be legally employed ,usually as a farm hand. Once he is more settled he will look for a piece of forest to clear illegally. This will usually be deeper into the forest and the way it is cleared is also fairly typical. It will usually be done by hand and then burnt with the surrounding trees intact  to make  it less obvious  (eg in Gunung Siku, Kuala Terla forest reserves  and forests deep into Tringkap.) Some are down right obvious such as those by the roadside in K.Terla . If the locals pay X amount to corrupt officers to look the other way, the foreign worker pays double or much more.

For water, it is sourced from the ever dwindling streams. For fertilizers and pesticides  it is ‘sourced’ from their employers unknowingly or purchased from suppliers from Thailand including banned pesticides. This banned pesticides are preferred because the vegetables grow faster, look ‘prettier’ cost is lower and these pesticides laden vegetables are now finding their way to our local wet markets.

To work these  illegal farms, the legal foreign worker will use his network of friends to hire workers from his own country who have arrived illegal usually through Myammar, Thailand and then to Butterworth.

By having illegal farms , the foreign worker can earn between RM 10,000 to RM 50,000 a month depending on how large the farms are.

The illegal farm workers that were hired will eventually run off and open their  own farms when they see how easy and lucrative it is. And another tract of virgin forest will go.  So the cycle goes on and the environment suffers as a result of corruption and greed.

Forests are also cleared in hectares by local contractors with “connections” and these are sliced off to be sold to Bangladeshis. When the illegal clearing in Kg Jarik was exposed by the media 1 year ago, after the hue and cry had died down the Bangladeshis returned in the middle of the night to work their ‘purchased’ land.

The recent nationwide crackdown on illegal foreign workers is very timely indeed  and we hope the operations will continue. The immigration officers were professional   and quite a number of illegal foreign workers were apprehended early this year. In a village up North , illegal foreign workers remain  in the jungle  in clusters of 50 to 100  coming out only when the coast is clear, still working in the farms, chasing a dream at our envrionments’ expense.

As for our town , if we don’t get our act together and reduce corruption , we remain at the mercy of opportunists, local and foreign.

 

Ramakrishnan Ramasamy

 

Feb 20

20/2/2014 – Lorries can’t ‘log’ out of Camerons

BY ISABELLE LAI

PETALING JAYA: Three fully-loaded heavy-duty timber lorries are now stuck in Cameron Highlands after the authorities were informed about their presence there by Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (Reach).

According to a Cameron Highlands District Council 1995 by-law, timber lorries are banned from using local roads from KM64.96 in Tapah to KM86.31 at the Blue Valley border.

Council secretary Mazlan Mohamed Isa said his officers had gone over to the site in Carnation Park housing area, Tanah Rata, on Tuesday evening and forbade the lorry drivers from leaving the area.

He said the owner of the lorries had been informed of the law and was told to find an different type of vehicle to transport the logs out. Read more from the star.com.my

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Note from REACH:

Another case of NO ACTION TALK ONLY from a gov. official.  The lorries moved out without any agency stopping them. REACH can only highlight, we are a community group. It’s the government agencies who are empowered with the ACT’s and the laws at hand. And they choose to ignore it because the “powers that be” condone this blatant disregard of rules in Corruption Highlands.