Friday, October 24, 2014

Illegal logging ring hammered

by Lian Cheng, Posted on October 24, 2014, Friday

Statewide operation codenamed ‘Ops Tukul’ results in 10 arrests, including district CID chief
KUCHING: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has delivered a severe blow to an illegal logging ring with the arrest of 10 individuals, including a district Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief.

In a recent integrated operation dubbed ‘Ops Tukul’ (Operation Hammer), the cop was arrested for allegedly accepting bribes totalling RM16,000 from illegal loggers in the area, MACC said in a statement.

The arrests were made following nine months of surveillance and investigations in 12 locations throughout the state, including here, Miri, Sibu, Ulu Baram, Lundu, Kapit and Miri.
MACC also froze 30 accounts belonging to 10 logging companies totalling RM18 million.

The other nine arrested – aged between 28 and 70 – include owners of timber companies and timber camp managers.

They were arrested for allegedly bribing officials with transactions ranging from RM300 to RM10,000 each.

“Although the sum of the bribes may seem insignificant, but the impact of the act is huge,” MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull said at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“Based on MACC’s observation over a period of nine months (January to September), the Sarawak government lost some RM43 million to illegal logging. Annually the losses are estimated at not less than RM100 million.”

The MACC statement added that illegal logging was said to be linked with corruption.

It pointed out that the commission had received information from the public with regards to illegal logging nationwide and Sarawak had been the state providing MACC with the most information on illegal logging or timber theft.

The statement said apart from monetary losses, illegal logging had also damaged Sarawak’s environment, adversely affecting water catchment areas, rivers and wildlife.

According to the statement, illegal loggers had also been found felling protected tree species of high commercial value, including hardwood, such as Borneo ironwood and tapang.

‘Ops Tukul’ was a joint operation between MACC, the police, Marine Operations
Force, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Forest Department and General Operations Force.

Illegal logging has been a hot topic in the state following recent repeated calls by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem for the curbing of illegal logging through effective law enforcement.

Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan had also warned licensed loggers not to harvest timber outside the boundaries of their concessions, which would breach the terms stated in their licences.

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