CAMERON HIGHLANDS - Sultan Ahmad Shah said he has nothing to do with the "yellow letters" which certain people have been using to farm illegally here.
Referring to those who had misused his palace's name as "gangsters", the Pahang Sultan said no one was above the law, not even him.
"If I know who they are, I will punch them. Once you're a gangster, you're always a gangster," Sultan Ahmad said at a press conference here yesterday, brandishing his fists.
When asked about the "surat kuning" (yellow letters) which had been used by certain people to open up specific tracts of land in Cameron Highlands for development, he replied: "I know nothing about this!"
These letters reportedly came without letterheads and were supposedly issued by senior officials in the Pahang palace.
"Ask them to come and see me, whoever wrote the letter, and saya akan bagi dia cukup-cukup (teach them a lesson)," he said, adding that anyone who got these letters needed to refer them to the state government.
Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, who was also present, said officials who received these letters needed to check with the government, the palace or even the Ruler.
The Sultan was upset about the illegal farming that had been going on in his state.
"They cannot go on doing this. We must put to an end (to illegal farming), by hook or by crook, we will do it," he told reporters.
He indicated that stern action would be taken against these farmers.
"One of these days you'll see a hundred of them behind bars," he said.
However, the Sultan said he needed the Federal Government's help as Pahang did not have enough resources to curb the problem.
"My settlement officers will not be able to stop them. Because they will be hammered by these people (farmers). They employ gangsters," he said.
When asked about local and state officials involved in corrupt practices, Sultan Ahmad denied such a thing.
"If they were to do that (enable illegal farming to take place), they are mentally ill and stupid," he said.
Sultan Ahmad, who said that any civil servant caught doing this would be dismissed, asked those doing so to stop their actions for their families' sake.
It is believed that illegal farming has been the cause of many of the landslides and floods occurring in Cameron Highlands.
Aside from being set up indiscriminately across the countryside, the plastic sheets used as farm roofs allow rainwater to directly enter rivers, instead of being absorbed into the ground.
Five people, including a 15-year-old boy, were killed after mud floods hit different parts of Cameron Highlands on Nov 6.
It was the second such incident in recent years, with four people killed in a mud flood last year.
The Sultan's visit to Cameron Highlands yesterday was nearly two weeks after floods ravaged the countryside.
After arriving at Tanah Rata in the morning, Sultan Ahmad made his way to Bertam Valley and viewed the destruction beside the local Chinese school.
He was displeased at the sight of the mountains of mud, sand and garbage, collected right beside the slow-moving Bertam river, which gushed mud some time ago.
Looking at the schoolchildren across the river, he said: "How can they go and study? It's very unhygienic. Tell me, if I return in six months will this rubbish still be here?"
Sultan Ahmad later told reporters that the state had been waiting for the Federal Government on this matter for too long.
He said RM40mil had been allocated in 2013 by the Federal Government to improve the river but only RM2mil had been disbursed and that was for technical purposes.
"We are in need of this for my people ... nothing can be done until they decide what to do," he said.