2008/06/29 New Straits Times
Sarawak to open more land for oil palm
KUCHING: Sarawak will continue to open up more land for oil palm plantations, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said here yesterday.
He said this would not go against the prime minister's directive on the clearing of land for oil palm plantation as it did not apply to the state.Taib said land earmarked for new oil palm plantations in the state were not permanent forest reserves but land targeted for agriculture since the 1950s.
He said the state had taken steps to protect its biodiversity."Our orang utans are safe. More than 30 years ago, we established a sanctuary for them."
He said it was likewise for indigenous nomadic tribes such as the Penans."The state has established a 30,000ha reservation for them even though there are fewer than 500 of them.""(So), there are no reasons for us not to continue opening up more land," he said when asked on the prime minister's directive to state governments to stop clearing permanent forest reserves.