Pahang govt wants apology, RM1mil from activist over logging claims

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PETALING JAYA: The Pahang government is seeking an apology and RM1 million in damages from environmental activist Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil for allegedly making defamatory statements on logging activities in the state.

It said Shariffa Sabrina made the statements in two Facebook posts, dated Dec 29 and Dec 30 last year, and during a Sinar Harian interview on Jan 12.

In a notice issued by law firm Messrs Hidayah Ishak & Partners sighted by FMT, it said her statements implied that the state government:

  • Is being irresponsible by allowing logging activities at the Karak mountainous area without making an environmental impact assessment;
  • Colluded with the Pahang forestry department to issue a “deceptive” statement that claimed that there were no logging activities at the Lentang forest reserve;
  • Is carrying out logging activities at the Lentang forest reserve irresponsibly until a disaster occurred;
  • Is the leading cause of logging activities in the forests under its purview; and
  • Is practising bribery by allowing logging companies to engage in widespread logging activities in the state.

The notice also claimed that her statements had subjected the state government to public criticism and damaged its reputation.

“Your irresponsible attitude, which is shown via these statements, has subjected our client to accusations from the public that it is a lying and irresponsible government with low integrity,” it said.

Shariffa Sabrina, who heads the Association for the Protection of the Natural Heritage of Malaysia (Peka), was asked to issue an unconditional apology to the state government through all sharing platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.

It also said should she fail to heed the notice within 14 days of receiving the letter, the state government would file a claim with the courts without referring to her as well as seek other damages.

When contacted, Shariffa Sabrina said this was not the first time she had been served a letter of demand.

She said she had also encountered threats and been locked up throughout her struggle to protect and preserve Mother Nature.

“This will not be the last either as threats, intimidation, blackmail or abuse of power. Such actions will continue to be used against me to stop me from exposing wrongdoing by the government when it comes to crimes against nature.

“The state government’s action has further shown that it is against freedom of speech and that it is incompetent in addressing allegations thrown at them, without improving their shortcomings in protecting nature.”

She said forests were needed to combat global warming, and “this kind of tactics to create fear of legal action can tarnish the reputation of the country locally and abroad”.

Shariffa Sabrina called on environmental activists in the country to be fearless in their advocacy.

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