KOTA SAMARAHAN: A call has been made on elevating the status of Sarawak Tropical Peat Research Institute (Tropi) into a statutory body.
Tropi director Dr Lulie Melling believed that the move would enable the institute to move forward while retaining its talents.
“Research is not just a job or a commitment but a vocation. It is about unlimited self-exploration ranging from critical questioning to debunking prevailing theories, which requires lots of readings, publications and not the least, guts.
“We may be able to publish at least five papers this year and I am very confident that as a new small setup, this is a record high not just for Sarawak, but Malaysia. To enable Tropi to move forward and still retain the talents developed here, we need to quickly upgrade the institute into a statutory body,” she said at the ‘Ramah Tamah Aidilfitri and Ngiling Bidai 2017’ at the Tropi Complex here yesterday, where Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg and his wife Datin Amar Dato Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang attended as guests-of-honour.
Adding on, Lulie said Tropi had rationally and scientifically justified the state’s need to maximise the use of its land resources.
She added that more research and publication of scientific research papers had refuted the international criticism saying that the cultivation of peatlands was equal to environmental degradation.
“Oil palm has become a major contributor to the state’s economy, second to oil and gas. Today, 70,000 hectares of the peatlands in Sarawak have been successfully utilised for oil palm and sago plantations.”
Lulie pointed out that revenue from the oil palm exports, which stood at RM12 billion last year, had overtaken timber’s contribution of RM5 billion.
“Also, oil palm (plantation) contributes to about 90 per cent of our agriculture export value. Maximising our land usage has also allowed for greater employment levels; thereby increasing our income per capita – I foresee this to continue,” she said.
She said the state also experienced some environmental beneficial spin-offs following good agriculture practices in the oil palm industry slated for sustainable management of peatlands.
According to her, peat fires have been eradicated and no haze has occurred in the state so far.
“This expertise has been shared between our nation and our neighbours such as Indonesia. This is seen in the success story of Sarawak being spared from the peat fire disaster caused by El Nino two years ago.
“Such are a few of the benefits of the use of scientific research for the greater good,” she added.
At the function, Lulie – who is the appointed partner and ambassador of Hokkaido University of Japan to Malaysia – received the appointment document from Prof Ryusuke Hatano from the Japanese varsity.
Among those present were Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin, Assistant Minister of Education and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee, permanent secretary to Manyin’s ministry Dato Sudarsono Osman and Tropi advisor Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu.