Hornbill Unleashed

October 27, 2011

Taib and gang cannot dismiss EU logging rules

Joseph Tawie

Sarawak can no longer ignore EU regulations governing import of timber because it will eventually affect ‘finished products’ originating from Sarawak.

Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s administration cannot continue to dismiss European Union Timber and Trade regulations because it would inevitably affect ‘finished products whose origins are traced back to Sarawak.”

Opposition assemblymen concerned over the State Government’s stubborn refusal to comply with the regulations are expected to raise the logging issues during the State Legislative Assembly sitting next month.

Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How said the recent decision by the Netherlands’ Independent Appeals Board  was not merely linked to raw logs but also ‘finished products such as furniture which could be traced  to Sarawak.”

“Although the European countries only import about 2% of timber from Sarawak, the consequences of ignoring the conditions for sustainable forest management would be far worse than we can imagine.

“We do not see the impact now, but in the long run we will suffer.

“I will raise this matter in the assembly next month,”  he said.

See said currently most of Sarawak logs go to Japan which accounts for 38%, India 12%, Taiwan 10% and Korea 9% and the rest to America, other Asian and European countries.

“But such a ban (as imposed by  Netherlands ) will affect timber exports from these countries as the finished products such as furniture will be traced coming from Sarawak.

“The EU will certainly ban those products later on,” said See alluding to EU Timber Regulations governing timber and import of finished products which come into effect on January 1, 2013.

Dutch ban on logs

While the Sarawak timber industry is concerned about the situation, the state government has been dismissive and has refused to kowtow to the EU conditions.

State Second Resources Planning and Environment Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan had last week said Sarawak will not comply with international timber certification and trade regulations as it had “its own set of timber industry policies”.

On Monday, it was reported that the Netherlands’ Independent Appeals Board had ruled in favour of global NGO Greenpeace which alleged that Malaysia did not practise sustainable forest management.

According to the Appeals Board judgment, the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) had demonstrated:

  • No respect for the rights of indigenous peoples;
  • Maps of MTCS certified forests are not adequately accessible to the public;
  • The EIAs (Environmental Impact Assessments) in Malaysia are inadequate to assess sustainability; and
  • No guarantee can be given that MTCS certified forests do not disappear for other land uses, such as plantations.

The decision meant that the Dutch would ban wood products certified under the MTCS from entering the country.

No respect for native rights

See reiterated Greenpeace stand adding that the Sarawak Government’s regulations governing forestation were well below world standards.

See, who is a well known native customary land rights (NCR) lawyer, said the state government does not respect the rights of the natives.

And this was well seen in the way the state government  ignored and disrespected the decisions of the courts which uphold the rights of the natives over land.

He also pointed out that the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) in Sarawak were inadequate to assess sustainability and that there was no guarantee that Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) certified forests do not disappear for other land uses such as plantations.

“The government leaders are only interested to make as much money as possible through their cronies.

“They just ignore long term benefits at the expense of the natives’ rights,” he said.

He warned the state government of the seriousness of the logs ban imposed by the Dutch government if the state continues to ignore the conditions of the international timber certification and trade regulations.

Other European countries may follow suit added, See.

Largest exporter

Sarawak is one the world largest exporters of tropical timber. In 2008 alone, more than RM7.4 billion worth of timber products and logs were exported.

In 2009  the exports of timber went down to RM4.15 billion and picked up in 2010 to RM4.75 billion.

The timber exports this year have increased by 20% from the previous year due to higher demands from countries like Japan which suffered due to earthquakes.

It is expected that the value of timber exports may increase to more than RM5 billion by the year end.

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3 Comments »

  1. By democratic & transparent standards, Taib should have been in jail some 30 years ago! End of the story!
    NZ’s parliamentarian Taito Philip Field is now in jail for some corruption in the region of a few thosuand dollars.

    Comment by Alan Newman, NZ — October 29, 2011 @ 10:09 PM | Reply

  2. Bakun dam turning into a white elephant?

    Its head is confident there will be a lot of demand for power

    (BAKUN DAM, Sarawak) The first turbine is spinning, electricity is pulsing out and the water level is climbing in the Borneo jungle behind Malaysia’s huge US$2.2 billion Bakun hydroelectric dam.

    But questions continue to swirl around the viability of a project described by critics as a graft-plagued human and ecological disaster – and as opposition mounts against a dozen other planned dams in Sarawak state.

    The first turbine from French giant Alstom began producing electricity in August and the dam’s reservoir in the Malaysian portion of Borneo island has swelled to the size of Singapore since impoundment began a year ago.

    After years of warnings about the impact on Sarawak’s pristine jungles and the forced removal of thousands of local tribespeople, the dam’s head, Zulkifle Osman, sees light at the end of the tunnel.

    During a tour of the facility, the managing director of Sarawak Hidro who has overseen construction since 2000 defended the dam despite an electricity surplus in the state and the lack of a market for its power.

    ‘It is a chicken-and-egg game,’ Mr Zulkifle told AFP. ‘I am confident there will be a lot of demand for electricity in Sarawak.’

    But dam opponents say the situation confirms warnings about Bakun as an ill-planned and unnecessary boondoggle.

    The project was first approved in 1986 under then-premier Mahathir Mohamad as a cheap electricity source for more-developed peninsular Malaysia even though the country is a net oil and natural gas exporter.

    But in a 2005 report, anti-graft watchdog Transparency International termed the dam one of the world’s ‘Monuments of Corruption’, citing years of delays, ownership changes and overall costs that more than doubled.

    ‘No users have made any legal written commitment for the usage of the energy,’ said Elli Luhat, a former Sarawak forestry official, now an environmental activist.

    Mr Zulkifle denied the corruption allegations. ‘All the money that is paid is audited,’ he said.

    Tribal residents say warnings about the dam’s ecological and human impact are coming true.

    Residents living in the shadow of the dam say the river’s biodiversity has degenerated, fish catches have plunged and once- clean waters smell foul and are unsafe to drink. Silting has occurred, inhibiting navigation in the river, natives say.

    They enjoy amenities unknown when they dwelt in the forest – piped water, electricity, schools, Internet access and health services.

    But the tribes, who previously grew rice and bananas and hunted wild boar, say their new land is infertile. Age-old hunting grounds are submerged and they must purchase staple foods.

    Sarawak is rich in natural resources but poverty is rampant. Its leaders are keen to diversify from mining, agriculture and forestry and into high-tech industries and say ample power sources are needed to lure foreign investment.

    The dam was meant to help cut Malaysia’s dependence on oil and gas for electricity generation. Up to 90 per cent of output was to be sent to more industrialised peninsular Malaysia via undersea cables.

    But economic downturns over the years forced protracted construction delays and shuffling of contractors, and the cable plan was shelved on cost concerns.

    Then-finance minister Anwar Ibrahim suspended the Bakun dam and other big schemes in 1998 amid a regional financial crisis.

    It was revived in 1999 after Anwar was ousted, with Sarawak Hidro acquiring the project from original private Malaysian developer Ekran.

    Despite the Bakun controversy, the state has plans for a dozen more dams, angering local tribes.

    There are about 200 cases in Malaysian courts brought by indigenous people fighting state acquisition of their land for dams, timber concessions or other developments. — AFP

    Comment by Yahya — October 28, 2011 @ 6:56 PM | Reply

  3. Bill Gates & Warren Buffet give a chunk of their (self-made, hard-earned money) multi-billions to charity. They didn’t even get a ‘Sir’ or ‘Datuk’. Here you have a giant criminal rotten to the core, stealing from the state & people who elected him, and you honour him with ‘Tan Sri, Datuk, Pehin, Patinggi, Abang….’ Laughing Stock! Outrageous, disgrace. He should have been in jail years ago, and you are tolerating him day after day!

    Comment by Alan Newman. NZ — October 27, 2011 @ 8:38 PM | Reply


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