Short term timber licences only for STA members
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