Development mustn’t harm nature, says eco-activist Shariffa Sabrina

“I understand the need to do business. I’m not against development – unless it is at the expense of nature,” a visibly upset Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil says about the development going on in Bentong, Pahang.

The environmentalist’s remark comes after video clips of her confronting an individual over alleged clearing of forest for timber, made their rounds on social media.

Shariffa Sabrina is Association for the Protection of the Natural Heritage of Malaysia (Peka) president and owns a chain of eco-friendly resorts and cafes named Tanah Aina in Pahang, Johor and Selangor.

In one video clip, she is heard saying land is being cleared at the river near her Tanah Aina Fareena Cafe & Restaurant in Lentang, Bentong as she zooms in on a red notice board.

The notice states that land clearing for farms and timber will be carried out on lot numbers 24149, 24150 and 24147 spanning 3.59 hectares, from Oct 15 to Jan 14, 2021. The licensee’s name on the notice board is Datuk Seri Azemi Kasim.

“Nature is being damaged. That is why I’m calling for a press conference on Tuesday (tomorrow).

“I want to show people how you can do business without ruining the environment.

“What these people are doing is the opposite. They are polluting the rivers and damaging the waterfalls,” she added.

Shariffa Sabrina said no trees were felled when she developed her resorts as she built around them.

“I bought the lands that house my resorts. They were not gifted to me by any VVIP,” she said.

“I used my money and developed the land without hurting nature.

“That is what I try to teach our guests as well.”

The person she confronted in the video clips had claimed to have connections with the Pahang royal family. Shariffa Sabrina was, however, unperturbed.

“Sometimes, people like to drop names to intimidate others. It will not work with me,” she said.

“Just because he claims to know Tuanku doesn’t mean anything. His contractors have cleared the land and even trespassed on my property in the area.

“I will be taking legal action on this.”

Shariffa Sabrina, who has been arrested before for speaking out on environmental issues, said she is not afraid of continuing her fight.

“I’ve been behind bars before. It has never stopped me from speaking out for what I feel is right.”

After the videos were widely shared, the Pahang Forestry Department ordered the company to clean up road construction residue affecting Sg Kenoi, reported Bernama yesterday.

Its director Datuk Mohd Hizamri Mohd Yasin said the department had also ordered land clearing work for the construction of the access road from the licensed logging area to be stopped immediately for re-evaluation.

“Currently we allow the licensees to only carry out mitigation work in Sg Kenoi, and they have started cleaning up work on Friday,” he said in a statement.

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