KOTA KINABALU: Outgoing Sabah Conservator of Forests Datuk Sam Mannan is one of three senior Forestry Department officers being questioned by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) for suspected abuse of power and corrupt practices.
The other two are one of his deputy directors and a close aide.
It was learned that graft investigators went to their office at the Sabah Forestry headquarters in Sandakan at around 10am before taking them to their respective houses as part of the investigations.
However, MACC officials could not be reached for an immediate comment on the investigations triggered after a state special task force uncovered some 40,000 logs that were illegally felled or royalties unpaid among others timber licensing laws broken.
It could not be ascertained if they will be arrested for further questioning.
The graft-busters have begun moving against Sabah’s powerful timber cartels as simultaneous raids were carried out at the state Sabah Forestry Department headquarters as well as three logging companies.
It is understood the investigation is part of an ongoing probe into Sabah’s timber cartels involving the big three timber companies and deals undertaken during the the previous Sabah Barisan Nasional state government headed by former chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman.
The MACC has already raided the offices of two logging companies in Sandakan and one in Tawau, and it is believed that documents have been seized in the raids.
The moves comes as Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal ordered a log export ban that was among others aimed at breaking up a Sabah timber cartel that has been in operation for a decade.
Shafie had said that the timber “extraction, buyer and seller” were all part of one group that has monopolised the trade that brought few direct spin-offs to the people and the economy.
A special task force raid saw over 40,000 logs worth millions in taxes alone seized from commercial forests and forest reserves in Tongod, Sandakan, Ranau, and Kalabakan in operations against illegal logging between July 5 and 14.The new state government has restored the special committee under the Chief Minister’s Department to oversee all logging-related activities and also enforce and execute laws under the Forestry Enactment 1968.
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