Sabah govt firm on log ban, says Shafie

KOTA KINABALU: The state go­vernment will not entertain any lobbying or give exceptions to the ban on logs, says Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pic).

The Sabah Chief Minister said the temporary ban, which was agreed upon during Monday’s Cabinet meeting, would remain in place until certain matters were resolved.

“There are serious issues to be studied thoroughly in relation to the logging industry in the state and I have to put my foot down in the best interests of the people.

“It is a very tough decision but it has to be done. In fact, it should have been implemented a long time ago,” he said.

Shafie said there was no time frame on how long the ban would be enforced.

“I am all for our logs to be processed locally so that legal sawmills can operate and provide sawn timber and other value-added pro­ducts.

“This in turn would create more job opportunities for the people,” he said.

He said Sabah Forestry Depart­ment had been instructed to inform all industry players, as well as operators of Forest Management Units for them to comply with immediate effect.

Shafie also said the decision was made following a briefing by Yayasan Sabah Group Forestry division after it revealed that exclusive contractors held a monopoly and took the bulk of profits.

“I was told that Rakyat Berjaya Sdn Bhd, the operator of Yayasan Sabah’s timber resources, has been in the red for four out of five years since 2013.

“From a lucrative subsidiary earning billions of ringgit, Rakyat Berjaya can now be best described as an ailing company with a bleak future unless drastic steps are taken to reform it,” he said.

Rakyat Berjaya operations also seem to indicate that the company can make better profits if logs are processed into sawn timber and sold by the company instead of depending on exclusive contractors.

Shafie said such practices must stop for the benefit of the people.

“There is an urgent need to put matters right.

“I will pave the way for Yayasan Sabah to regain its glory days so that it will be able to finance its core activities of providing education and free medical services to the needy,” he said.

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