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STIA’s ‘24,000 timber workers’ doubtful
Published on: Sunday, April 18, 2021
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Logging still taking place in Sook, Pensiangan, Keningau and along Kalimantan border. (File pic)
IN the last few weeks there have been several statements on the issue of export ban on logs. 

The President of Sabah Timber Industries Association (STIA) claimed the ban is good for Sabah economically. This was followed by a statement from the only Commercial Plantation of Teak trees who offered their 150,000 teak trees to any STIA member wanting sustainable timber for their downstream manufacturing. 

I understand that so far there has been no local buyers or takers, probably because the plantation was not about to sell its timber for the same price as ravaged timber from forest reserves.

It appears logging activities are still going on based on google satellite images, particularly in the Sook, Persiangan Keningau areas and along the Sabah and Kalimantan border. 

If one bothers to look, the images reveal the ravaged forests on the Sabah side with logging roads looking like “cakarai ayam” compared to the Kalimantan Indonesian side where forests have remained untouched.

Logging has been going on in these areas for over 20 years. Every day around 50 or so 40 tonne logging trucks ferry logs from Sook, Keningau and the Pensiangan areas. This has resulted in the Keningau-Kalabakkan road that was constructed at a cost of RM1 billion becoming the gravel road it is today. 

Similarly, the Tenom-Sipitang road that was constructed at a cost of RM500 million has also become another gravel road due to 40 tonne logging trucks plying the route daily.

The President of STIA claimed there are 24,000 Sabahans working in the timber industry. Based on numbers from the timber industry which includes plywood factories, sawmills and furniture factories, this figure of 24,000 is very doubtful and appears to have been pluck out of thin air. To this end, STIA should come up with facts and figures to the following.

1. How many plywood factories?

2. How many sawmills?

3. How many furniture factories?

In addition, in all over Sabah STIA should also enlighten Sabahans on the following:

1. Production by these plywood factories, sawmills and furniture factories?

2. Volume produced annually – whether sold locally or overseas?

3. What is the export value of manufactured timber?

Lastly, where are members of STIA getting their timber supply from for all their factories that employ 24,000 people. 

These need to be broken down from the various sources; (i) Concession (ii) Forest Management Unit and (iii) Other sources. All will make for compelling reading particularly in the way STIA derive their figures. 

It should be noted that there are implications with the publication of incorrect data as it will invariably result in incorrect policies by government and the association itself.

Further, what is the STIA policy on future timber production, plantation or forest reserve areas. 

It is high time that Sabah Ministers and politicians speak the truth on what is going on Sabah Forest Reserve.

Ex-Sawmiller, 

Keningau.


 





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