Wednesday, October 16

Chong: State should consider banning timber exports in face of local shortage

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KUCHING: Sarawak is the only state in the country that has not banned timber exports causing furniture manufacturers here to experience a shortage of raw materials, said Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen.

According to Chong, the State had exported RM7.2 billion worth of timber last year.

“This includes RM3.8 billion worth of plywood, RM2 billion of logs, and RM0.807 billion of sawn timber.

“Sarawak is renowned for its exported timber globally but at the same time, our local furniture industry faces a timber shortage,” he said yesterday.

The Bandar Kuching MP said he supports the Sarawak Furniture Manufacturer’s Association’s call on the State government to consider banning the export of timber in view of its short supply.

Chong felt that timber license holders and their cronies were earning very good profits while local furniture manufacturers here suffer.

Chong who is DAP state secretary called on the government to be fair and not to please the interest of their cronies over the good of other businesses in Sarawak in general.

The furniture association’s chairman Wong Yiew Chai, said in Sibu on Saturday that Sarawak as a timber-producing state should not be experiencing a supply shortage, and wanted the
government to stop timber traders from exporting the commodity but instead supply it to the local furniture industry.

“We have the favourable conditions necessary 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.

He also hoped the government would consider bringing down power supply cost.

They also faced labour shortage. Many of their problems had become stumbling blocks, he said, adding that they found it hard to sustain at times.

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.