Malaysian actress Sharifah Sofia Syed Hussein recently hiked 240km from Sungai Relau in Taman Negara Pahang to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur as part of the A Walk For Tigers program. — Picture via Instagram/Sharifah Sofia Syed Hussein
Saturday, May 28, 2022 9:25 am MYT
KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 (Reuters) – Malaysian actress Sharifah Sofia Syed Hussein, known for her wildlife and nature activism, has questioned authorities over her silence on the potential environmental impact of a proposed rare earth mining project in Perak.
The 36-year-old, who recently hiked 240 km from Sungai Relau in Taman Negara Pahang to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur as part of the “A Walk For Tigers” program, urged government authorities to consider the environmental impact of the planned lanthanide mining pilot project, which will be carried out in will take place in a forest reserve in Hulu Perak, Malaysiakini reported today.
Lanthanide is a rare earth metal element used in industrial and medical fields.
Citing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) carried out for the project, Malaysiakini reported that the area is home to 11 threatened wildlife species, including the critically endangered Malayan tiger, of which only 150 remain in the wild.
“Once they invade your habitat, where do you think these animals go? The jungle is getting smaller and smaller. When these animals roam the kampungs, they end up being shot at,” Sharifah Sofia told the news portal.
She asked why government agencies weren’t speaking up, citing the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) as one of the silent ones.
“I’m surprised other agencies like Perhilitan aren’t saying much.
“Why is it always the NGOs that speak up all the time? Where are the conservationists? Where are the forest rangers?
“Why this rakyat always have to raise your voice and fight for what is right? Not only for the people, but also for the planet,” said the 36-year-old, who has acted in Malaysian films Pisau Cukur was quoted.
Sharifah Sofia said it was heartbreaking to see how human greed is causing Malaysian wildlife to lose their habitat.
“These people know what they’re doing, but they don’t care what the consequences of their actions will be,” she was quoted as saying.
Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad earlier announced the state’s plan to mine lanthanides, a rare-earth element used in smartphones, smartwatches and electronic devices, to boost revenue.
He said his state government received approval from the Environment Ministry for a pilot project after receiving the EIA report.
However, local green group Sahabat Alam Malaysia sounded the alarm.
According to the EIA, the proposed lanthanide mining by in-situ leaching will be accomplished through the construction of seven hydrometallurgical plants and the establishment of injection wells and piping systems.
Malaysiakini reported that the project consists of 11 properties totaling 2,161 ha or approximately the size of 3,026 football pitches owned by Menteri Besar Incorporated Perak, Gerik District Office, Felcra Bhd and Perak State Agricultural Development Corp.
A 2016-2020 national survey by the Wildlife and National Parks Department, WWF-Malaysia and other NGOs found that there are fewer than 150 wild Malayan tigers in Malaysian forests, compared to about 3,000 in the 1950s.
The Malayan tiger population is declining at a critical level and the animal could become extinct in five or 10 years unless drastic measures are taken to stop the problem.
The Malayan tiger is a protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 and is listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union of Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
The May 6 Walk For Tigers aimed to raise public awareness of the impact of deforestation on the wild Malayan tiger, which is said to become extinct in the next 10 years.