Monday, 2 February 2009

Sarawak to resist pressure from Europe

Sunday February 1, 2009

Sarawak to resist pressure from Europe


KUCHING: Sarawak will not bow to pressure from the Europeans on timber certification, said Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mah­mud.

He said European NGOs had their own agenda in pressuring the state to meet their demands on timber certification.

“I myself will not yield to this pressure,” he said at the Sarawak Timber Industry Develop­ment Cor­­­­poration’s anniversary dinner on Friday.

He noted that timber trade with Europe made up only 2% of the state’s total exports.

Taib said Sarawak was negotiating with the Japanese, who were traditional and long-term buyers of logs and timber products, on a timber certification system.

“The Japanese are well informed and know our timber practice very well. They would not be easily hoodwinked by some NGOs.

”The Japanese are strict on the environment on timber certification as the Europeans,” he said, adding that the Koreans and Chinese also knew that Sarawak had been protecting its forest through sustainable management.

He hoped that the Federal Government, especially the Plantation Industries and Com­mo­­­­­dities Ministry, would understand what the state was doing as the country’s timber exports came mainly from Sarawak.

Taib said 20% of the state’s six million hectares of permanent forest had been converted with fast-growing timber species. This would yield five times more timber than the natural forest.

Second Planning and Resource Management Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said the corporation and other relevant agencies had intensified their enforcement against illegal timber activities.

Awang Tengah, the new corporation chairman, said timber was the state’s third most important revenue earner after petroleum and gas.