Sarawak’s Chief Minister Takes Tough Stand on Corrupt Timber Practices

Sarawak has been the subject of repeated negative stories in the international media, mostly about the level of corruption that exists there, especially when it comes to logging and the destruction of the rainforests. Current rates of deforestation are apparently significantly above what are considered sustainable levels.

Illegal logging in Malaysia has long been a serious problem and not just in Sarawak. Despite frequent reports highlighting the abuses, it seems that not enough is being done to fully address and resolve this ongoing problem. Recently, it was reported in The Star that even designated wildlife reserves, supposedly protected areas, have been destroyed by illegal logging.

Transparency International in Malaysia maintains a website where people can report illegal logging and they can track abuses. The site can be found at www.timalaysia-forestwatch.org.my.

The new Chief Minister for Sarawak, Tan Sri Adenen Satem, surprised many Malaysians when he held a press conference and loudly denounced the existing practices which he made very clear would no longer be tolerated. He even had six of the biggest timber barons sign an integrity pledge while he attacked them for their abuses. Given that his predecessor, Tan Sri Taib, now Governor of Sarawak, was frequently criticized for not doing enough to stop illegal logging, this was seen by many as a very welcome change of position for the state government.

The challenge, as always, will be in implementation, and it is hoped the new Chief Minister will have the fortitude to carry through with his threats before too much more destruction takes place.

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