SARAWAK Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem may have unearthed an intricate web of corruption and deceit in his bold move to investigate indepth the illegal logging saga in Sarawak.
He may have found that the multi-million illegal logging activities could involve high-level “internal” conspiracy that had enabled up to RM100mil worth of illegal logs to be traded in the black market year in and year out.
Money from these illicit logging had fattened the pockets of those who plundered these natural resources from Sarawak’s forests.
Adenan on Monday chaired a closed-door meeting with enforcement officers of the Sarawak Forestry in Miri and, during a press conference, he openly wondered out aloud how huge bulks of illegal logs could have been transported to foreign countries without being detected.
“I was informed that illegal logs had been taken out from our forests to ships waiting in the sea (South China Sea) for export overseas,” he said, stressing that he had asked the maritime authorities to investigate these export routes.
During the press conference, I asked: “Tan Sri, so far among those suspects nabbed by the Sarawak Forestry for illegal loggings, are there any masterminds, or are these just the small fish so to speak?”
Adenan’s reply was candid. He said: “Well, it will be good if they can get the mastermind.”
That statement speaks volume. It simply means that so far, no mastermind of the illegal logging operations had been arrested.
We ordinary Sarawakians are puzzled.
Why is it that until today, no heads of the illegal logging operations had been arrested in any part of Sarawak?
Almost everyday, tonnes of illegal logs are being seized, but who are the ones masterminding these operations?
Until today, only 29 timber workers had been nabbed during the raids.
These are just the small fries. They are not the ones planning or executing the operations.
Are there people who are rich, powerful and influential enough to get illegal logs extracted from the deep forests, transported out and loaded onto ocean-going vessels for overseas destinations without being stopped?
Are there enforcement people who had been bribed in the process?
How else to explain how illegal loggings could have gone on so openly under the sun in Sarawak?
No sound-thinking citizen would believe that no enforcement people had known about such illegal activities.
Every timber tree felled in the jungle must be certified by the Sarawak Forestry officials.
Every tree, if it is harvested legally, must be stamped with a seal of certification or else they cannot be taken out from the forests or traded, let alone sold overseas.
There must be something very wrong in the enforcement circles that had enabled up to RM100mil worth of illegal logs felled and sold undetected every year.
How long has these been going on – 10, 20 or 30 years?
How did the masterminds behind these scams get away?
Who are these masterminds? Are they in the business or in political circles?
People with powerful administrative connections perhaps?
Ordinary folk like us are fed-up with the fact that these powerful people can plunder our resources and can still get away with it.
A few years back, gangsterism was a hot issue in Sarawak. However, no “big fish” were ever arrested.
During the height of the gangsterism saga, I spoke to Sarawak DAP deputy chairman Chiew Ching Sing to get his comments.
Chiew, who is state assemblyman for Kidurong, said the police owed an explanation to the rakyat why they had not nailed any VIP gangsters.
“It is already an open secret known to all that there are certain VIPs in the form of politicians and also prominent figures in businesses who are connected to gangsters and using gangster tactics.
“All these while, the police have been going after the small fishes, while the biggest culprits are untouched.
“Why is the police so slow in dealing with these so-called VIPs who are the ones behind these gangsters? This is an act of injustice against the rakyat.
“The rakyat demands to know whether these VIPs are still holding public office, which political parties they are from, which business companies they owned and where they are living now.
“The police must also tell the rakyat when they are going to arrest these VIPs linked to the gangsters,” he had said, pointing out that those arrested were just the “small and medium-size fishes”.
The rakyat was waiting for the police to net the “big ones”, he said then.
That was three years ago. Until today, we have not heard of any VIP gangsters having been brought to justice.
As for the illegal loggings, it is good to see Adenan flexing his muscle to try to stop the scourge.
The rakyat supports him all the way. But we are keenly waiting to see whether any of the “big fish” will ever be nailed.