Friday, December 19, 2014

Adenan laments under-utilisation of detection system

by Geryl Ogilvy Ruekeith, Posted on December 19, 2014, Friday

Adenan (second right) launching the Chief Minister’s Totally Protected Area National Award during SFC’s annual dinner, accompanied by (from left) Len Talif, Naroden (partly hidden), Awang Tengah and Ali. — Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi
KUCHING: Sarawak may have one of the best detection systems to monitor logging activities but it has never been fully utilised.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem said despite the advanced mapping and topography system that incorporated satellites, illegal logging had continued to rampage the state’s forest due to the lack of expertise in handling such technology, apart from weak enforcement and corruption among Forestry officers.

“The state has one of the best detection systems but we never fully used it. We have access to satellite photos, topography and mapping system and yet we are still unable, at the touch of the button, to determine areas with licensed operators and those of illegal logging.

“It’s like giving a radio to a monkey. We have the facility but we don’t use it fully because we don’t know how to use it,” he said when officiating at the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) 11th anniversary dinner cum launch of the Chief Minister’s Total Protected Areas National Award at Imperial Hotel here on Wednesday.

Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Assistant Minister of Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, Assistant Minister of Resource Planning Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais, SFC chairman Datu Dr Yusoff Hanifah and chief executive officer Datu Ali Yusof, were also present.

Earlier, Adenan, who is also Resource Planning and Environment Minister, had threatened to get the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to act on corrupt enforcement officers.

He mentioned that some Forestry officers didn’t even know the boundaries of the timber concessions and companies operating within their areas, while some chose to accept bribes to guarantee their safety against illegal logging operators carrying weapons.

Adenan admitted that stories of corrupt practices amongst enforcement officers were not rumours.

Saying illegal logging activities had gotten worse that even national parks were encroached, he found it very suspicious when officers were unaware of their surroundings.

Another scenario included officers not conducting physical examination on mapping exercise when issuing permits for licensed operators to enter certain areas, which had led to complaints of polluted water catchment areas by rural communities.

“Sarawak forest is our treasure. Like all treasures, we should take great care and love our forest. That is why I do not want to see it decimated. We have started a war against illegal felling and smuggling of logs. I mean what I said — don’t mess with me,” he cautioned.

He reminded all enforcement agencies to be firm in combating illegal logging because the state already had a bad reputation internationally; saying if international accreditation went from bad to worse, international buyers would not buy the state’s timber.

He pointed out that accreditation would only improve if the state was serious in fighting illegal logging and saving its timber industry.

Adenan advised enforcement agencies against giving open Removal Pass that could be used repeatedly, reminding them that the pass should only be used for a specific purpose and specific volume.

He also gave stern warning to corrupt officers tipping off illegal logging operators about impending raids, which often ended up with no arrest.

He called on the public to cooperate with the enforcement agencies by recording and collecting evidence of any suspicious activities.

Meanwhile, Adenan revealed that the state would increase the number of national parks and sanctuaries to have closer control while preserving and rehabilitating its flora and fauna.

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