KUCHING: Lack of environmental protection and weak enforcement to combat illegal logging have led to pollution in many rivers in Sarawak.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem demanded the relevant authorities to step up enforcement of environmental laws to protect Sarawak’s river networks, saying that many looked like kopi-susu (milk coffee) due to illegal logging upstream and uncontrolled dredging affecting the rivers natural flow .
“I want to safeguard our rivers. There are laws and regulations in place but enforcement is lacking. There is a need for greater commitment and efforts to end complacency in protecting our rivers,” he said at the National Environment Day 2016 celebration here.
Adenan noted that human activities and industries had caused many countries to suffer from the consequences of environment degradation.
“It is very hard to predict the weather these days, compared with the past when forecast was more accurate. Average temperature had increased by one to two degrees Celcius due to global warming.
“If the glaciers in the Antartic continues to melt, sea levels around the world are expected to rise and many coastal areas and islands will be submerged. It requires international efforts including Sarawak and Malaysia to control climate change but small efforts from us will not do much,” he continued.
The state government will continue to enhance its forest conservation efforts, dedicating at least 10% of land in Sarawak to become protected areas.
Adenan reiterated his stand that the government would not issue new timber concessions nor renew existing permits particularly in the Heart of Borneo initiative areas.
The state will not open up land for commercial oil palm plantations, although consideration will be given to Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra), Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) and public plantation companies involved in native customary rights (NCR) land development.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar lauded the state’s decision to not issue or renew timber concession licence as many forest areas needed rehabilitation.
The Santubong MP said Malaysia would soon ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change, as part of the country’s commitment to reduce carbon emmissions and fight global warming. Putrajaya pledged to maintain its food security, water security and forest preservation.
Wan Junaidi also warned that errant factories along the riverbanks would risk being shut down if found to be responsible for water pollution.
He said this in light of the recent contamination of Sungai Semenyih in Selangor by an illegal factory.
“There need to be a self-regulation by factory owners without having to wait for enforcement,” he added.
On Budget 2017, Wan Junaidi said his ministry would be able to deliver in terms of flood mitigation and reforestation efforts despite environment policies getting only a passing mention.
“Budget is less than expected but will not affect all planned programmes throughout the nation, particularly for the Heart of Borneo initiative in Sarawak,” he said.
The event also saw Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia director-general Prof Datuk Dr Azizan Baharuddin receiving the Langkawi Award (2015/2016) for the Individual category. Shah Alam City Council won the Organisation Category. Both winners received RM10,000 each, commemorative plaque and a recognition certificate signed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
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