Timber giant denies it has encroached upon forest land in Sarawak

Samling’s logging activities have often raised social concerns among the people, especially in the interior areas of the state.

MIRI: Timber giant Samling Group has denied allegations by some NGOs that it had encroached upon gazetted forests and Native Customary Rights (NCR) land in the interior of Sarawak.

Samling Management Services Sdn Bhd chief operating officer (COO) James Ho Yam Kuan accused NGOs of levelling “unsubstantiated allegations”.

“They’ve never come to us to ask any questions. So, we couldn’t explain to them.

“We always try to invite them to come and see for themselves (what we are doing) and not make any unnecessary allegations,” he said during a site visit to the Samling operational factory for media members participating in a six-day media programme organised by Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC).

Samling is involved in various types of businesses. Its logging activities have often raised social concerns among the people, especially in the interior areas of the state.

Ho said they were actually helping the rural communities by providing roads, thereby providing access to schools, healthcare and other facilities.

“We do not attempt to bully anyone, especially the people in the interior.

“As you can see, we have so many villages, 172 in total,” he said, adding that Samling had been helping the locals for over 25 years.

When asked about complaints made by the people in Baram about the encroachment of their native customary rights land, Ho said the land had no trees to be harvested and the company had never entered any of the areas without their consent.

Ho said if Samling were to enter any area, the company would draw up an agreement, assist the villagers and accommodate their requests, such as building roads into theír villages.

He added that all their logs were from verified legal sources, using the Sarawak Timber Legality Verification System (STLVS).