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Cameron Highlands’ REACH environmental activist dies

The Star Online logo The Star Online 4/12/2020 BY IVAN LOHANDSIMON KHOO
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IPOH: Environmental activist R. Ramakrishnan (pic), the go-to person for issues affecting Cameron Highlands, has passed away. He was 55.

The president of Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (REACH) was found unconscious at home before he was rushed to the Sultanah Hajjah Kalsom Hospital in Cameron Highlands.

According to his close friend Dilip Martin, Ramakrishnan was pronounced dead at about 1am yesterday.

“His sister went to his house at about 11.30pm on Thursday and found him motionless. He was diabetic and had complained of breathing difficulties for the past week, ” he said when contacted.

His passing came as a shock to many environmentalists and local residents in the popular highland site, known for its tea planting, vegetable farms and lately in the news – rampant illegal land clearing.

Ramakrishnan, who had been helming REACH for many years, was active in highlighting numerous issues affecting Cameron Highlands and other sensitive sites including Fraser’s Hill.

Among these are illegal land clearing, pollution of river sources and water catchment sites, traffic congestion and the usage of illegal pesticides.

Due to his no-nonsense and combative stance, Ramakrishnan often incurred the ire of various groups and had to change his phone numbers occasionally to avoid trouble.

Former Tanah Rata assemblyman Datuk Ho Yip Kap said the locals in Cameron Highlands had lost a son of the soil who cared much for the environment.

“He was also my former student in SMK Sultan Ahmad Shah in Tanah Rata, ” said the former school principal, adding that Ramakrishnan was an active sportsman besides taking up many green efforts during school.

“He leaves behind a legacy and will be remembered for his conservation efforts and love of Mother Earth, ” said Ho.

REACH committee member Wong Seng Yee said he had known Ramakrishnan since he was in primary school.

“I was a scout member and he was a scoutmaster. After leaving school, we often met up to talk about environmental issues

“He always told us that we must be responsible for the environment as we are borrowing it from our future generation. He was someone who truly cared for the environment, ” he said.

Wong said one of the last things Ramakrishnan had worked on was to apply for a piece of land at the famous Mossy Forest in Brinchang to be gazetted as a biodiversity research centre.

“He had worked hard on it for the last six to seven years. It has also gotten the support of the Pahang Mentri Besar.”

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