Malaysia: Terengganu's jumbo-sized problems take centrestage at assembly sitting

ADRIAN DAVID New Straits Times 23 Nov 16;

KUALA TERENGGANU: 'Kecil bagi kita, besar bagi rakyat' (Something considered small to us but a big issue for the people).

Just like the slogan for the New Terengganu Transformation programe, an estimated 450 elephants in the state are causing havoc at plantations, farms and village properties.

Langkap Barisan Nasional assemblyman Datuk Sabri Mohd Noor highlighted the issue during question time at the state assembly sitting today.

In response, Jertih Barisan Nasional assemblyman Datuk Muhammad Pehimi Yusif said efforts have been made to shoo away the elephants through gunshots into the air, while animals which were caught were relocated to other natural habitats far away.

However, Sabri replied that such efforts were ineffective and suggested that the elephants be confined to national parks and that sentry watches be posted at villages, especially in the early hours of the morning when elephants are active.

Pehimi retorted that it is not possible to house all the elephants at national parks as there are just too many of them.

"The maintenance costs, including feeding, is very high and the national parks are not able to accommodate this.

“In view of the large areas in plantations and farms involved, it is also not possible to deploy watchmen.

We have erected electrical fences to deter the intrusion by the animals but they somehow seem to dodge them.

Some of the equipment have also become defective,” said Pehimi, who is state Agriculture, Agro-based Industries and Commodities committee chairman.

On another note, Bandar Terengganu PKR assemblyman Azan ismail asked how anyone could own up to 200 houses at a time when there was a shortage of affordable homes for the people.

In response, state Local Government and Housing Committee chairman Mohd Jidin Shafee, who is Permaisuri BN assemblyman, said all public housing scheme applications were vetted thoroughly and only first-time house buyers were eligible for government projects.

“Others may have bought it from private properties or via the private sector housing schemes, which do not place conditions as per government schemes,” he said, adding that a total of 5,287 government-initiated public scheme houses would be built next year for the people.

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