Sunday, December 15

‘Confiscated logs sold’


Royalties collected from the disposal channelled into state’s coffers — Forest Department

KUCHING: The Forest Department yesterday assured the people that confiscated logs have been disposed of properly, and the royalties collected from them were now in the state’s coffers.

In a response to Wanita PKR vice-chief Voon Shiak Ni’s press statement yesterday, its director Sapuan Ahmad said the department’s standard operating procedure (SOP) was to hand over all seized illegal logs to Harwood Timber Sdn Bhd (Harwood), which is a government-linked company, to be disposed of in the domestic market through open tender.

Voon had said she was baffled by the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of illegal logs that were confiscated by the authorities.

She further said the issue had been raised a few times with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation and the Forest Department, but there had been no positive response.

She also said the public had started to wonder where the seized logs were following a number of successful operations by the authorities to confiscate illegal logs across the state after Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s declaration of war against illegal logging.

“Whenever we seized logs, the ones not owned up by anyone will be given to Harwood immediately. Harwood will then call for open tenders on these illegal logs. This has been our SOP.

“Most of the logs were sold. Of course, there are still some that can’t be sold out yet because they are located at remote areas, such as Ulu Kapit,” Sapuan told The Borneo Post yesterday.

He further explained that unwanted logs would be sawn into smaller pieces to make them unserviceable or unusable.

“This is done to prevent theft of the remaining logs. After they are sawn into pieces, they will be left to rot.”

He said the measures to eradicate illegal logging were on-going and the department would continue to beef up its efforts to ensure that the state government got the royalties due, which amount to millions of ringgit.

Since January 1 last year, he said the department had investigated 210 cases relating to forest offences.

Of the 210 cases, he added, 42 cases were still under investigation, and 98 cases had been compounded a total of RM3 million.

Two cases had been referred to the Attorney-General’s Chambers for prosecution. As for the remaining 68 cases, he said no one claimed ownership of the logs, and they were thus referred to Harwood.

On the frequently asked question of why the department was only putting emphasis on illegal logging now and not before, Sapuan said the department had always been hard on illegal logging except that the news was not widely publicised.

“Now we make the information known to the public because they want to know about it.”