Farmers plan march, protest

KUANTAN, Malaysia – Malaysian farmers of the famously pungent durian fruit are calling for tighter regulations on mining they say is destroying arable land and tainting the water they need to churn out their yellow, spiky-shelled crop.

Farmers in major growing state Pahang plan to spend about two weeks marching over 250 kilometres to Parliament in Kuala Lumpur to protest the impact of bauxite mining on output of the food, sometimes described as Southeast Asia’s “King of Fruits”.

Parts of Pahang have been transformed over the last few years by a mining boom to feed China’s appetite for bauxite, a key ingredient of aluminium.

There has been a public outcry over environmental damage, however, with mining blamed for polluting land and turning waters red near the state capital Kuantan.

That has piled pressure on the government, prompting it to impose a three-month ban on bauxite mining in early January, but durian growers such as Che Long Che Ali fear what will happen when the moratorium is lifted on April 15.

“We will march to submit a memorandum to Parliament … I’m doing this for myself and all future generations to fight for our environment,” Mr Ali said.

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