Short term tim­ber li­cences only for STA mem­bers

The Borneo Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jonathan Chia re­porters@the­bor­neo­post.com

KU CHIN G: Com­pa­nies ten­der­ing for short term tim­ber li­cences must first be mem­bers of Sarawak Tim­ber As­so­ci­a­tion ( STA) and are le­git­i­mate tim­ber op­er­a­tors, in ad­di­tion to hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced ca­pa­bil­i­ties and good stand­ing with no pre­vi­ous records of il­le­gal log­ging ac­tiv­i­ties.

STA chair­man Datuk Wong Kie Yik said Chief Min­is­ter Datuk Amar Abang Jo­hari Tun Openg made this clar­i­fi­ca­tion dur­ing a dis­cus­sion be­tween STA and the chief min­is­ter on the is­suance of short term tim­ber li­cences through open ten­der.

“On the is­suance of short term tim­ber li­cences through open ten­der process, I am pleased to re­port to­day that the as­so­ci­a­tion had dis­cussed this mat­ter with the Chief Min­is­ter. The Chief Min­is­ter has clar­i­fied that the ten­der­ers must first be mem­bers of the as­so­ci­a­tion who are le­git­i­mate tim­ber op­er­a­tors, in ad­di­tion to hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced ca­pa­bil­i­ties and good stand­ing with no pre­vi­ous records of il­le­gal log­ging ac­tiv­i­ties.

“There­fore, STA is go­ing to work closely with For­est De­part­ment Sarawak to en­sure this ten­der­ing con­di­tion is fulfi lled,” he said in his mes­sage that was read out by STA hon­orary sec­re­tary Dato Henry Lau at the STA an­nual gen­eral meet­ing (AGM) at Wisma STA here yes­ter­day.

Wong de­scribed 2016 as a de­mand­ing and for­ma­tive year for the tim­ber in­dus­try in Sarawak as a re­sult of var­i­ous ini­tia­tives un­der­taken by the state For­est De­part­ment.

He added that among these ini­tia­tives are com­bat­ing il­le­gal log­ging, sus­tain­able for­est man­age­ment, mora­to­rium on new tim­ber li­cences and tim­ber cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“While these ini­tia­tives were lauded as trans­for­ma­tive ef­forts and pop­ulist in na­ture, it was also in­ter­preted as timely mea­sures to im­prove the poor in­tegrity of our tim­ber in­dus­try and its gov­ern­ing agen­cies and au­thor­i­ties.

“How­ever, these ini­tia­tives have caused frus­tra­tions among many of the stake­hold­ers of the tim­ber busi­nesses as they are per­ceived to be op­er­ated by cow­boys, gang­sters and cor­rupt op­er­a­tors, dis­re­gard­ing laws and other val­ues such as pro­tec­tion of en­vi­ron­ment and hu­man rights, among oth­ers.”

To make mat­ters worse, Wong said some of the gov­ern­ing agen­cies were over ea­ger in tak­ing ac­tions, of­ten with­out proper co­or­di­na­tion or hav­ing clear guid­ance on their own pro­ce­dures.

“The gov­ern­ing agen­cies would leave the mat­ters hang­ing in the air when they find them­selves with­out clear and con­crete ev­i­dence, while the in­no­cent party is left reel­ing from the af­ter­math of their in­ac­tions.

“In­deed, it would not be too as­sum­ing to give an im­pres­sion that we had a sick and no­to­ri­ous tim­ber in­dus­try that re­quired in­ten­sive and harsh mea­sures.”

First on the list, Wong said, was the com­bat against il­le­gal log­ging and over the pe­riod, there were in­creas­ing re­port of raids and con­fis­ca­tion of il­le­gal logs.

“Nu­mer­ous yes, but who were they and from which area? Are these cul­prits from the long term li­cences or no li­cence or no per­mit op­er­a­tors? The le­git­i­mate tim­ber op­er­a­tors and com­pa­nies wanted these to be pub­lished trans­par­ently to rid it of bad heads and re­turn re­spect to the tim­ber in­dus­try.”

He noted that Sarawak has a Sarawak Tim­ber Le­gal­ity Ver­i­fi­ca­tion Sys­tem ( STLVS) which is a very ro­bust le­gal­ity sys­tem pro­vid­ing trace­abil­ity and track­ing the le­gal­ity of tim­ber and tim­ber prod­ucts.

“In 2016, the state forestry agen­cies un­der the Min­istry of Re­source Plan­ning and En­vi­ron­ment had come out with the (STLVS) stand for in­de­pen­dent ver­i­fi­ca­tion of for­est op­er­a­tions, tim­ber pro­cess­ing and trade of tim­ber and tim­ber prod­ucts against the com­pli­ance of the ex­ist­ing laws, reg­u­la­tions and pro­ce­dures gov­ern­ing forests and tim­ber trade in Sarawak by the forestry and tim­ber in­dus­try. This STLVS stan­dard should be re­spected in its rights.”

Among those present at the AGM were STA hon­orary trea­surer Philip Choo and STA chair­man of hill log­ging com­mit­tee Datuk Seri Law Kiu Kiong.

Lau (cen­tre) read­ing out the chair­man’s speech at the STA AGM at Wisma STA yes­ter­day. Also seen are Law (left) and Choo. — Photo by Chi­mon Upon

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