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Sarawak Assembly approves Forests Bill
Published on: Thursday, April 23, 2015
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Kuching: The Forests Bill 2015 was passed by the Sarawak Legislative Assembly Wednesday after being debated by 20 state assemblymen.Although passed without any further amendments, it did not get an easy passage and was debated long and hard especially by opposition assemblymen who even suggested to have the bill reviewed by a special committee.

Among the members who participated in the debate were Baru Bian (PKR-Ba' Kelalan), Abu Seman Jahwie (BN-Jemoreng), Wong King Wei (DAP-Padungan), Dennis Ngau (BN-Telang Usan), Christina Chiew Wang See (DAP-Batu Kawah), Malcolm Mussen Lamoh (BN-Batang Ai), Violet Yong Wui Wui (DAP-Pending), Snowdan Lawan (BN-Balai Ringin), Dr Wong Hua Seh (DAP-Repok) and Chiew Chiu Sing (DAP-Kidurong).

When winding up the debate, Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment, Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, said the Forests Bill 2015 was aimed at curbing illegal logging besides improving the State's forest management and taking into account the local community's welfare.

He said the Forests Bill is a clear manifestation of the State government's resolute commitment to strengthen the management of state forests and its introduction was to ensure the sustainability of Sarawak's valuable forest resources.

Awang Tengah said to reinforce commitments to eliminate illegal logging and other malpractices which resulted in the State losing huge amount, in terms of revenue and forest assets, the government had decided that a new forests ordinance be enacted to provide for more deterrent penalties for forest offences. "For the enforcement of forestry laws and regulations, this bill ensures that timber produced in the State comes from legitimate sources and promotes sustainable forest management practices.

"Forests Bill 2015 will also have better regulatory control over the issuance of timber licences and the holders of such licences, their contractors and workmen; improve the image of Sarawak as a major producer of tropical timber and eliminate the perception that the State condones illegal logging or indiscriminate felling of our forests," he said.

The Forests Bill 2015 is tabled to repeal and replace the Forests Ordinance 1958 (Chapter 126). It is a 1953 Ordinance which came into force on Jan 1, 1954, reprinted in 1972 and has been amended 28 times to date since 1973.


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