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Media Article # 496

Sunday, March 26, 2006

[Freddie Long clarifies situation in Kota Tinggi]

By R. Sittamparam
New Straits Times

The Johor Government is fully committed to investigating the Johor Bigfoot phenomenon and will not condone any destruction of "evidence" that could prove the creature’s presence.

State Tourism and Environment Committee chairman Freddie Long said it was therefore wrong to accuse the State Forestry Department of destroying purported Bigfoot footprints found in secondary forest at Kampung Temening in Kota Tinggi.

Long said the bulldozing of a 10m stretch of forest, where giant footprints and "evidence" were found on a tarred road and muddy forest floor last month, could have been done by the land owner.

"The land on which this evidence was found is private land and we have no jurisdiction to do anything there," he said in response to a New Straits Times article yesterday, which reported that authorities had plugged the unregulated tourist influx from Singapore to the village area by bulldozing the secondary forest where the Bigfoot evidence was found.

Asked why the State Government had not advised villagers in the area on ways to optimise on the eco-tourism potential of interest in Bigfoot, he said this was difficult as the villagers themselves did not believe the creature existed.

Long said he and officials from the Johor Wildlife and Forestry departments had together visited the spots where the Bigfoot footprints and "evidence" were discovered.

"We could not find solid evidence of Bigfoot there and we found that the people there remained unconvinced.

"As the Bigfoot ‘evidence’ is largely on private land in Kota Tinggi, there is little we can do to promote Bigfoot tours."

Long said the state Bigfoot research steering committee was searching Johor jungles for evidence.

He said since Dec 30, the Johor National Park Corporation and state Wildlife and Forestry departments had carried out short expeditions in the jungles of Kahang, Endau-Rompin, Lenggor, Padang Temumbun and Sungai Semerong.

"The Bigfoot research steering committee, which I chair, has decided to organise the state’s official Bigfoot expedition on May 15 to 20.

"A total of seven scientists from local universities in various disciplines such as zoology, primatology and IT will join the expedition together with relevant government agencies and representatives from non-governmental organisations."

Long also clarified that the State Government had not banned foreign Bigfoot experts and enthusiasts from investigating the Bigfoot phenomenon in Johor.

"They can send in their applications to us and we will arrange for them to carry out their studies as soon as the local expedition is completed by the end of May," he said.

He urged those with information on Bigfoot to contact the committee’s hotline at 07-2222221. He said the committee would promptly investigate any sightings.

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