Friday, February 6, 2015

Adenan stamps foot down – no more new plantation land, logging licences

05 Feb 06:00 PM
Adenan (bottom left)

 by Jimmy Adit
SARAWAK FOCUS: No more alienation of state land for plantations. No more issuance of new logging licences. 
Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has made his stand on two issues that have been plaguing the state in more ways than one.
Take oil palm plantations, for example.
Yes, these plantations have brought about lots of benefits – roads and bridges where there were none before and job opportunities for the native participants. 
Unfortunately, even in these benefits there are strings attached. Some plantations don’t allow their roads and bridges to be used by the local native communities while most of the jobs in the plantations attract the natives less than they do Indonesians. Natives don’t want to be paid wages the plantations are paying the foreigners.
What happens today is that plantations cannot attract locals to harvest their fruits. They are hiring Indonesians and are hoping to get Bangladeshis next.
In fact, locals no longer hope to be hired by plantations which are racking in tons of money but unwilling to pay higher wages to the natives.
“We have enough of that (opening of state land for plantations) already and we are not going to open up any more plantations,” Adenan was quoted as saying.
And he is perfectly right. Sarawak has more than enough plantations now, which is why they are struggling to harvest their fresh fruit bunches with so few workers but hundreds of thousand hectares of palms ripe for harvesting.
Besides, Adenan has to be mindful of the socio-political problems that could be caused by bringing in too many foreigners into the state if the plantation land gets any bigger.
Needless to say, opening the land for plantations has been the major cause of the destruction of the state’s forests. Putting a stop to the activity now is really nipping the problem in the bud. A host of problems in their buds, really.
“We are not going to allow any more new plantations, except on communal and NCR (native customary rights) land.
“Besides, there will be no more new timber licences, and on top of that, we will put a stop to illegal logging,” Adenan declared.
According to him, when he first took action against illegal logging, he thought that the problem was small but now realised it was beyond his imagination.
“Illegal logging happens like nobody’s business. They (culprits) are so daring and they even go to fell timber in national parks without the knowledge of the forest officers or they just pretend not to know.
“We need cooperation from everybody. We are not only expecting enforcement officers to carry out their duties as expected of them but we also appreciate information from the public and the press people.”
“This has nothing to do with politics. It does not matter whether you are pro-government or pro-opposition because what we want is the result. We want to save our forests.”
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