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Putrajaya spurns ‘radical’ critics of timber policy

 | September 12, 2017

Wan Junaidi reacts to an allegation about the use of Sarawak wood for the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.

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PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya has defended its forest conservation measures following criticism over the alleged use of Sarawak timber for the National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

Speaking to FMT, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the government was committed to sustainable logging.

In a statement released yesterday, the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) said 47 civic organisations had delivered an open letter to the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic authorities stating that the stadium uses significant amounts of rainforest wood allegedly supplied by a Sarawakian company.

The letter alleged that this was despite the company’s history of illegal logging, rainforest destruction and human rights violations.

The Tokyo Olympic authorities have said the wood used is certified.

Wan Junaidi said logging by any registered company in Malaysia was subject to stringent requirements and sustainable practices.

“We know that the BMF’s approach is quite radical,” he said. “For them, there is no compromise. If we follow their approach, we will never be able to harvest our natural resources.”

He said revenue from logging went back to the people.

In Sarawak alone, he added, about 190,000 people still worked in the forest industry directly and hundreds of thousands more worked in the furniture industry and other businesses that use wood.

“Even then,” he said, “Sarawak remains the state with the greatest forest coverage, with forest areas making up 68% of the land.”

He said Malaysia had pledged to retain not less than 50% forest cover, adding that the cover was, at present, 54.5%.

He noted that the trend in most Malaysian states was to increase the acreage of permanent forest reserves.

Wan Junaidi, himself a Sarawakian, also said the Sarawak government, since 2010, had been consistently increasing the areas gazetted as forest reserves.

“Our biggest problem in relation to our forests is illegal logging,” he said. “We cannot deny that it happens and it must be noted that it happens everywhere in the world.

“But both the Sarawak government and the federal government are taking measures against illegal loggers.”

He said Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg was committed to continuing the legacy of his predecessor, Adenan Satem, who waged a war against illegal loggers.

Adenan ceased the issuance of timber concessions and commercial plantation licences. Thirty-six illegal sawmills subsequently shut down because they could not get any more stolen logs.


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