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Record RM500m gain for YS
Published on: Wednesday, January 19, 2022
By: Ricardo Unto
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Sam and Yayasan Sabah.
Kota Kinabalu: Yayasan Sabah (YS) recorded its biggest ever profit of RM500 million last year, said Yayasan Sabah Group Deputy Director Datuk Sam Mannan.

“And there was no timber involved in that allocation,” he said at the Sabah International Business and Economic Summit (Sibes), Monday.

He said YS is expecting profits to go even further. “Our estimated value is RM5 billion and it will increase to RM10 billion in five years’ time.”

On YS’ profit, he recalled his proposal to a previous Chief Minister many years ago.

“One day, I spoke to the Chief Minister at that time…I said we are finished. He then asked me what did I mean when I said that. I said ‘yes, we are – in 10 years’ time, I will be begging in the streets and Yayasan Sabah will also be begging in the streets. 

“So, what’s the solution? I gave him a very controversial solution.

“The old colonial licences were not part of YS and I told the CM then ‘there is a way, you leave it to me’, and he did.

“He had to follow through because it was a survival matter. I said, ‘let them plant oil palm, after all, everything is devastated.

“I think it was a reasonable decision on his part. There was never any hint of political expediency,” said Sam, who is also former Sabah Chief Conservator of Forests.

In the beginning, for various reasons, the YS oil palm plantations did not do well.

“I suppose at the time, many tried to promote themselves as developers but we found most of them to be extraordinarily incompetent.”

And the criticisms against palm oil is not helping the sector as well. To this end, he said it should be contained.

“We have many other ventures, good or bad…it was a mixture, in terms of success,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sabah Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Frederick Kugan said the scaling up of the forestry industry requires a quantum leap transformation from all sectors.

“And the transformation plan is on the way to provide the enabling environment, to elevate the industrial tree plantation under the SFM (Sabah Forest Management).

"This would be encapsulated in an action plan and a blueprint which will soon be announced for forest plantation management towards achieving sustainable timber production as outlined in Sabah Maju Jaya (SMJ) Development Plan and Sabah Forest Policy 2018.

“The implementation will require the existing new players, new investments to increase the current planting capacity to scale up in developing forest plantation.

“I believe with strong commitment by all existing and new players, the timber industry will turn around, as one of the main contributors for the State’s socio-economy,” he said.

The State, since independence, he said, had relied heavily on the forests for the much needed revenue for the socio-economic development of the State, especially in the mid-1980s.

“Such dependence, however, had brought about significant impact to the forests, particularly, in terms of its productive capacity to produce timber.

“Much of the commercial forests are now disturbed, but fortunately, the level of disturbance of the forest is reversible and can be restored.

“I can say that most of the efforts of the Forestry Department over the last three decades had focussed on rectifying past mistakes and undertaking various forest restoration and conservation initiatives. 

“Thanks to my predecessor as well, through partnerships with like-minded parties which have yielded positive results.”

He added, to date, despite the exploitation in the past, about 65 per cent of Sabah’s land mass or 4.8 million hectares is still forested.

“I think we can applaud ourselves for not only having successfully met the national commitment of maintaining 50 per cent under forests cover, but more importantly, 3.8 million hectares of the State’s forests are legally protected as permanent forest reserves, parks and wildlife conservation areas.

“In addition, the State Government is committed to place more forests under totally protected areas to increase it to 2.2 million hectares by 2025.

“These commitment and achievement are indeed has placed Sabah as the leading State in forest conservation,” he said.

The adoption of the sustainable forest management in 1997, he said, has changed the forestry landscape in Sabah, particularly on the 3.5 million hectares of forest reserves.

“Forest management in Sabah since then is based on the concept of sustainable forest management that incorporated three pillars – economy, environment, and social.”

He said, there are many economies that are dependent on forests, and all these conservation efforts, from protecting, restoring, managing to mainstreaming forest/biodiversity conservation values are meant to protect the greater interest of the State in sectors that are reliant on the forest, such as agriculture, tourism, renewable energy, water resources, and carbon climate change ventures.

“Further unlocking these potentials, and unleashing businesses in these sectors would definitely bring greater benefits to the community as a whole.

“And more importantly with the realisation of the crucial role played by forests in all these sectors would in turn bring a greater forest protection,” he said.

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