Association may use acacia wood for furniture-making

Muar Furniture Association (MFA) wants to explore the possibilities of using acacia wood in furniture-making as an alternative to rubberwood.

For the past 30 years, international furniture buyers had generally accepted the use of rubberwood for furniture, which was a key feature that elevated Muar as the furniture city of Malaysia, said MFA president Steve Ong Yeou Huan.

“Following our recent four-day working visit to Sarawak, we found out that the state is rich in high-quality acacia wood and we are considering using it for furniture-making.

“There is high demand for rubberwood in furniture-making, which we have highlighted to the relevant authorities. Hopefully an alternative can ease the demand for it.

“However, acacia wood tends to crack and have an uneven surface in the finished product so we will study this and look at ways to overcome it,” he said.

Ong said MFA had written to Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) to obtain acacia wood samples, which will be turned into furniture by manufacturers in Muar.

The finished products would then be exhibited at Malaysian International Furniture Fair scheduled to be held from March 1 to 4 next year at Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kuala Lumpur, he added.

Ong, who led the group of 18 delegates to Sarawak, said the use of acacia wood was not among the topics discussed as the main purpose of the trip was to discuss and study the raw materials used in the furniture industry.

He said the delegates, including Batu Pahat Furniture Association president Lim Hee Tiang, took the opportunity to also learn about Sarawak’s furniture supply chain and downstream industries.

As a result of the visit, a technical exchange programme would be set up between MFA and STIDC soon to study the ways to strengthen the treatment and processing of rubberwood into furniture production materials, he said.

Ong encouraged their counterparts from Sarawak to send their employees to the factories in Muar to fully understand and study the matter.

“We hope the exchange programme and study will benefit both sides and help in our efforts to develop, strengthen and speed up the downstream industry of furniture-manufacturing.

“When meeting with the Sarawak government representatives, I suggested developing a rent-to-own, ready-built factory model to facilitate industry players who are looking to expand their furniture business there.

“The furniture parks that we visited in Demak Laut, Kuching and Tanjung Manis, Sibu, were conducive and can be considered by those who wish to expand their business in future,” he said.

He added that it was a fruitful visit as the Johor delegates paid a courtesy call on Sarawak Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and learned about the state’s foreign labour intake policy, which was different from that of Peninsular Malaysia.

Ong also thanked STIDC general manager Datuk Hashim Bojet for extending the invitation to MFA and for hosting the various investment and briefing sessions throughout their visit.

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