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MALACCA: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam is upset over the felling of five giant angsana and malacca trees within the buffer zone of the Unesco World Heritage Site here.

The trees that had stood for hundreds of years along Jalan Merdeka and Jalan Parameswara, near Equatorial Hotel here, were cut down by a private contractor carrying out a multi-storey hotel pro­ject.

The trees were tagged as rare species in 1996.

Mohd Ali asked the Malacca Historical City Council (MBMB) to haul the contractor to court at once.

“I don’t know who gave them the authority to chop down the trees. I want the contractor to be punished.

“Even the trimming of trees and ornamental plants in this state can only be carried out after permission is granted by the local council.

“In this case, ancient and precious trees were felled. I also want the contractor to be blacklisted and not awarded construction jobs in Malacca.

“This will serve as a lesson to others,” Mohd Ali said here yesterday.

He said he had asked mayor Datuk Zainal Abu to issue reminders to other contractors not to lay their hands on any tree considered part of Malacca’s heritage.

“I am really upset and am not going to let the matter rest,” he said.

The state government has also asked its legal adviser to use existing laws to effect maximum penalties on the contractor.

MBMB councillor Mohd Yusof Abu Hassan said the trees were inside the buffer zone gazetted by Unesco on July 7, 2008.

He said the contractor had no approval to cut down the trees and the council would initiate legal action under the Urban and Town Development Act 1972.

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