Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Joint move against log thieves

The StarOnline - Malaysia
Tuesday May 13, 2008

Joint move against log thieves

KUCHING: Sarawak will set up an inter-agency coordination committee to streamline enforcement against illegal logging.

Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said coordination among the Forest Department, the Sarawak Forestry Corporation and the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation would enhance their capabilities in managing the state’s forests.

“These agencies will pool their resources together to enable the government to tackle illegal logging more efficiently,” he told the state assembly yesterday when winding up the debate on matters related to his ministry.

He said the state government had drafted tougher laws on illegal logging, which include jailing offenders for between one and five years and a fining them up to 10 times the value of the goods seized.

“In addition, the burden of proof will be on the suspects while those found in possession of suspected illegal logs must prove ownership and that they have paid all the relevant charges and royalties.''

On another matter, Awang Tengah, who is also Public Utilities Minister, said his ministry would pursue its proposal to the Federal Government to draw up a master plan to identify villages and longhouses still without electricity and study the feasibility of supplying power through the grid or alternative systems.

“The study will be a basis for comprehensive planning and budgeting in the implementation of rural electrification projects in the state.”