KOTA KINABALU: Twelve village chiefs have kicked up a ruckus against an approved RM12mil plan to log 4,000ha in Pulau Banggi in the north of Sabah.
The chiefs feared that the project, a joint venture between a local firm and a Korean company, would affect the island's forest reserve.
They wanted Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman to put a stop to it, as it makes a mockery of Malaysias drive for a Green World.
This will hurt the environment, as the forest reserve constitutes a natural water catchment for the people of Banggi, said one of the village chiefs who was allegedly stopped from attending a press conference here on Tuesday.
At a signing ceremony on May 29, Justin Enterprise (M) Sdn Bhd, the local partner of the Korean company NH Investments, said the forestry department had given its approval for it and that it would provide jobs for 150 locals.
They said that they were investing RM12mil in the Albizia tree project but did not give details on how much they paid for the secondary forest land, purportedly bought from another private company.
When contacted by The Star yesterday, Barisan Nasional assemblyman for Banggi Datuk Amirkahar Tun Mustapha said that he had also protested against the logging and sawmill project.
I dont think the forest we have on Banggi can cope with a sawmill and it will definitely affect our only water catchment on the 700sq km island, said Amirkahar.
He said he and the villagers were not given details of the project, especially as the Albizia tree was only a short shrub.
Also speaking for the Banggi village chiefs was Parti Keadilan Rakyat complaints bureau head Christina Liew who wanted to know whether the Department of Environment has given the assessment on the impact of the logging and why was there an outright sale of the forest to be logged for two years and a sawmill project started later.
Liew feared a recurrence of the failed multi-billion ringgit pulp-and-paper project in Kalabakan where the project was abandaned after the forest was logged.