SIBU: Chairman of Sarawak Furniture Manufacturers’ Association Wong Yiew Chai has called on the state government to consider banning export of timber in view of its short supply.
Speaking at the installation of his association on Saturday night, he said certain timber varieties like red meranti wood were in short supply, and had affected their production acutely.
He said Sarawak being a timber-producing state should not be experiencing the supply shortage, and wanted the government to stop timber traders from exporting the commodity but supply it to the local furniture industry instead.
“We have the favourable conditions to build the industry; we have raw timber in the interior and the wood-based processing industry built downstream. But we do not have the wood we need; they are being exported.
“We must work to ensure that furniture manufacturing in Sarawak not only can be sustained but expanded,” he emphasised.
On the furniture village at Rantau Panjang, Wong hoped the government would help boost its development by providing them with infrastructure facilities.
He also hoped the government would consider bringing down power supply cost.
“We also face acute labour shortage. Many of our problems have become stumbling blocks. At times, we find it hard to sustain.”
On another subject, Wong hoped the government would lower advertisement charges in Miri, saying they were too high and had affected their growth.
Regarding the state’s furniture industry, he said it had been around for more than three decades, reiterating that his association would work closely with the government to expand it.
The association’s Sibu branch headed by Kelvin Ngu was also installed.
Echoing Wong’s call, Ngu said the ban had been implemented in west Malaysia.
He also called on the government to consider cutting tax on timber supplied to their industry.
“Malaysia is placed top nine in furniture export but in Sarawak we are hard hit by the shortage of this raw material and the high transport cost,” he added, reasoning that they only served to make prices of their products not competitive in the global market.