Hornbill Unleashed

October 14, 2011

EU timber regulations: Stubborn Sarawak won’t budge

FMT Staff

Sarawak is not prepared to kow-tow to timber import regulations set out by the European Union.

Sarawak is stubbornly refusing to comply with the international timber certification and trade regulations simply because the state “already has its own set of timber industry policies”.

State Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said: “The international sanctions focus on the question of legality of the timber certification, native customary rights (NCR) and human rights activities.

“These issues are irrelevant as they are well taken care of all this while by the government,” he said in reference to the US and European Union’s (EU) timber certification and trade regulations.

Awang Tengah was responding to issues faced by the Malaysian Timber Council over timber certification and the increasing pressure for legality and sustainability of timber from importing countries like the EU and the US.

Both the EU and the US have introduced regulations which must be complied to by all suppliers, Malaysia included.

While the US has introduced the Lacey Act in a bid to curb illegal timber trade, the EU has drawn up the EU Timber Regulation.

The EU Timber Regulation is expected to take effect in on Jan 1, 2013.

Adamant Awang Tengah

Under the EU Timber Regulation, Malaysian suppliers must show compliance by acquiring certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) for the European buyers.

While the Sarawak timber industry is concerned about the situation, Awang Tengah is adamant and dismissive.

“Malaysia will compromise but only if certain requirements are dropped and if it follows its original objectives… then we shall comply.

“At the moment, our principle stands…. we shall stand by the state timber policies,” he told reporters after officiating at the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) Integration and Innovation Day here.

Howeverr, he said the “matter was still under negotiation”, adding that the state was awaiting a decision from the federal Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry.

“The state and the federal ministries are not at odds over the issue.

“The federal and state governments have agreed on the issue of legality and certifications but our stand is clear on the state’s timber policy,” he said.

Don’t be arrogant

In June this year, Sarawak DAP said the Sarawak timber industry would be in deep trouble if the state did not comply quickly with the EU timber regulations, which included the signing of the voluntary partnership agreement (VPA).

The regulations, among others, prohibited the importation of illegal timber into the EU.

Said state DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen: “Our timber cannot be exported to the EU countries because of non-compliance with the certification requirements imposed.

“One of the requirements is the VPA that Sarawak needs to sign with the EU countries,” he said.

This agreement will require companies to trace where their timber was harvested because up to 40 percent of the world’s production is estimated to come from illegally logged tropical forests.

Chong had advised the state government not to be arrogant, but to comply with the requirements.

“You cannot brush aside international regulations.

“Once this regulation comes into effect, it will not only prohibit raw timber from Sarawak from going into the EU countries, it will also ban timber products from Japan and China from entering the EU zone if the raw materials come from Sarawak,” he said.

About 98 percent of the timber from the state is exported in the form of raw logs.

Virtually all of these logs are destined for Asian markets.

According to a 1989 report, the three largest importers of Sarawak logs are South Korea (16.4 percent, Taiwan (22 percent) and Japan (46 percent).


  1. Corrupt politicians and their cronies are afraid of accountability. They’d rather hurt Sarawak’s economy than jeopardize their own illicit income.

    Comment by Gopher — October 14, 2011 @ 11:53 AM | Reply

  2. BB….why so quite about the land grab in Lawas? Why not expose who were the real owners(share holder) of oil plantation in Lawas or 5th Division as whole…..

    How come MP Sum become the owner or the stone quarry in Lawas?

    Comment by HH2H — October 14, 2011 @ 12:41 AM | Reply

  3. Awang Tanah(Tengah)….. you own probably halve of plantation in Lawas and who knows where through Sarawak!

    Berani sumpah ka?

    Comment by HH2H — October 14, 2011 @ 12:38 AM | Reply

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