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What RM130 million owed to ex-Sabah Forest Industries staff?
Published on: Friday, May 12, 2023
By: Larry Ralon
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What RM130 million owed to ex-Sabah Forest Industries staff?
“There isn’t any. Not that I know of. If there is, why should we keep (and not give it)...the SFI borrowed, I think over RM100 million from the Sabah Development Bank (SDB),” Masidi said.
Kota Kinabalu: The State Government does not owe RM130 million in compensation to former Sabah Forest Industries (SFI) workers, said State Finance Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun. 

“There isn’t any. Not that I know of. If there is, why should we keep (and not give it)...the SFI borrowed, I think over RM100 million from the Sabah Development Bank (SDB),” he said. SDB is wholly owned by the Sabah Government. 

He was asked about the compensation that is supposed to be a settlement for outstanding salary payments and compensation to all former SFI workers.

Masidi was representing the Chief Minister at the Petronas Aidilfitri Open House at the Magellan Sutera Harbour, Thursday.

A former SFI worker, Jeffridin Baudi, raised the matter again Wednesday. 

“This is our grievance at the moment in addition to the settlement of outstanding salary payments and the compensation that should have been paid to all former SFI workers if the RM130 million compensation is paid,” he said when commenting on the disconnection of electricity supply to the SFI Complex in Sipitang which also affected their piped water supply. 

It was reported that Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) disconnected supply to the quarters on May 2 due to unpaid RM324,965.45. 

The power cut has also affected two kindergartens and a school for students with special needs there.

It was also reported that prepaid electricity is being proposed as an option for the quarters which have been without electricity for a week now. 

On Jan. 16 this year, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Abidin Madingkir said the State Government had taken action out of compassion to help the workers since 2019 and during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This included payment of salaries and the Employee Provident Fund (EPF), with the latest being payment of some RM798,000 on electricity bills incurred by the former SFI workers.

“While the State Government empathises with their plight, it is not sustainable for the government to solve their predicament in the long run,” said Abidin.

The workers, he said, have been laid off by their former employer, India-based pulp, and paper manufacturer Ballarpur Industries Ltd which has been in Receivership since 2017.

Pending the reactivation of the mill by a new concessionaire, the former workers have been advised to look at the matter realistically, to move on and to seek alternative employment.

The State Government had imposed a conditional requirement for the new concessionaire to set up operations within two years, said Abidin, adding the former workers may apply to work in the new company.

He said the Sipitang District Officer has been directed to engage with and update the former SFI workers.

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