(10 May 2001)

KOTA KINABALU: Former Chief Minster Datuk Yong Teck Lee refuted claims that Sabah's dwindling timber supply is due to implementing Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) through the Forest Management Units (FMUs).

Defending the move, he said the government implemented the SFM in 1997 for fear that over-logging could exhaust the State's timber resources.

"However, it depends on the government on the next course of action, but rest be assured that the SFM was implemented with a simple reason that Sabah had over-logged its timber resources.

"Therefore, today you may have noticed that we are not producing much timber anymore, and under the SFM, it is compulsory for all licensed loggers to do replanting of trees to replace the ones that had been cut down," he said.

Yong, who is Gaya MP and Likas Assemblyman, stressed that the State could totally lose income from its timber resources without the introduction of the SFM.

"It is better to get low income right now than having to experience none at all in the future," he said. "Otherwise, the logging activities might spill over into the forest reserves, including intrusions by illegal loggers."

Yong was asked to respond to a remark by Finance Minister Datuk Musa Hj Aman who blamed the SFM/FMU for the decline in local timber supply.

To another question, Yong said Malaysia had generally been considered as a country adapting transparency in its administration.

He described the call by the Malaysian Human Right Commission (Suhakam) on the government to be more transparent as "a normal phenomenon in many countries".

This (call) would not mean Malaysia is not transparent in its administration, he said.

Datuk Yong Teck Lee
Member of Parliament for P150 Gaya / State Assemblyman for N13 Likas




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