Sarawak’s Timber Industry Is Finished Says Devastating Secret Assessment

Sarawak Report has acquired details of a secret report, recently commissioned from a leading global consultancy, advising the state government that a radically changed approach is needed to manage its once resource rich economy, thanks to the careless and greedy destruction of previously luxuriant forests.

The findings make grave reading, painting a scenario whereby bad management and greed have exhausted one of the key income streams for the state, namely its natural resources, whilst much-trumpeted ‘industrialisation and modernisation’ drives have largely failed in the hands of family companies linked to politicians and their cronies.

The report explains the backdrop to remarks by Malaysia’s finance minister, Lim Guan Eng, last week, who shocked many in Kuching by predicting that Sarawak could find itself bankrupt within three years based on the present state of its finances.

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Sarawak looking at hydrogen sales for revenue

KUCHING: Sarawak is looking at producing hydrogen and other commodities to derive revenue for the state’s coffers through the imposition of a sales tax, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg

He said under the Sarawak Constitution, a sales tax, such as the five per cent imposed on petroleum products starting from Jan 1 this year, is not confined to one commodity only.

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The Truth About Sarawak’s ‘Forest Cover’ – Why Shell Should Think Twice Before Engaging With The Timber Crooks

Looking for all the world like a gruesome bunch of mafia dons, the head honchos of Sarawak dressed casual this weekend and waddled out to some turf to grin for their favourite PR organ, the Borneo Post (owned by the timber barons of KTS) in order to proclaim their belated attempt to get onto the tree planting band-waggon.

The broad face of the mysteriously wealthy deputy chief minister, Awang Tengah dominated the shot (his earlier positions included chairman and director of the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation and minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources). Meanwhile, his boss Abang Johari posed planting a symbolic sapling, described as a native plant but of a ‘fast growing’ kind.  So, what is this all about?

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Championing palm oil’s cause

A RECENT European Union (EU) plan proposing to restrict palm oil in its biofuel programme has once again put the palm oil industry into public scrutiny, requiring palm oil producers to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable production.

A statement by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the United Nations’ 73rd General Assembly last year reinforced Malaysia’s full commitment to the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification, underscoring the importance of shifting towards sustainable palm oil consumption and production.

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Cronyism, Kickbacks and An Eco-Catastrophe – The Story Of Murum Dam

One of the Governor of Sarawak’s key political henchmen cum holders of public office made a rare foray into the headlines this week to attack the appointment of a new Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) chief, who is expected to break the log jam on corruption cases.

Idris Buang, who has himself combined various public and private offices with political roles, complained that the appointee has been a known member of PKR and would, therefore, be biased.

Perhaps the assemblyman, who has been linked to a number of high profile controversies is fearful of more active investigations into the Sarawak scene?  For example, Sarawak Report has received details of one report to the MACC last year, which has yet to be acted on, relating to the clearing of timber worth a billion ringgit from the Murum Dam basin through a contract granted by Sarawak Energy (SEB) while he was on the board.

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Digital evolution and the need for upskilling

The news of the merger between Celcom (Axiata) and DiGi (Telenor) has definitely captured the attention of Malaysians from all walks of life because of the size and popularity of both these companies. However, there have been a lot of chatter that seem to paint the merger in bad light,
especially in the area of job security.

Telecommunications, tech-based and manufacturing industries are undergoing rapid changes because of the emergence of high-speed broadband, Internet of Things (IoT), automation, artificial intelligence and Industrial Revolution 4.0. Jobs that were considered common in the past are under threat because it is increasingly being handled by AI, software and apps. Not necessarily the entire business (operation), but most
certainly, more and more tasks are being automated.

That is why the assurance of both parties in the merger in wanting to upskill and re-train existing employees are welcomed. Nowadays, there are a lot of graduates who are unemployed because employers feel they lack
the skills and knowledge in jobs such as cloud computing, machine learning, data science, augmented reality, virtual reality, app programming, big data, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency, IoT and automation. Quite the mouthful, though these are terms that becoming increasingly commonplace.

However, in industries mentioned earlier, they are already looking for people to take on these jobs and the merged company – MergedCo’s “People Plan” which will look into retraining and reskilling of employees to fill in various new areas of work spanning ‘home broadband, enterprise solutions and Regional Innovation Centre’ is also a reflection of Telenor’s global
operation and its role as a major player in the international telco industry.

This means career growth and opportunities. A recent study by Randstad “Market Outlook 2019” said digitally-adept candidates who have niche technical skills will be highly sought after by employers who are looking to advance their technological capabilities. As companies digitise their internal processes and services, the in-demand skills that employers
are looking for will differ greatly from what the workforce is equipped with currently, the study added.

I believe this merger will also convince employers of other companies that they too need to upskill and hire people with new skillsets – which invariably, are much better paying than rankand-file positions. And it is a natural progression to the nation’s growth as it becomes more
industrialised. Meanwhile, Voluntary Separation Schemes (VSS) and Mutual Separation Schemes (MSS) means staff can choose to accept or reject the company’s offer but they cannot be forced to accept it.

Those willing to stay can be part of a Multinational Company and will be rewarded by learning skills that can be used worldwide and increase their personal value and worth. And yet for others, an MSS or VSS is an opportunity to pursue a different career path or realise an ambition or dream that they otherwise may have thought as impossible. I personally know of former colleagues for whom the latter was true.

There will always be some that find the latest trends and technology daunting and may struggle to adapt. It is most likely this group of people who are most worried of losing their jobs because the lack of other skills and (potentially) their advanced age would mean it would be harder for
them to get a new job as many of these skills are becoming common prerequisites.

But just as companies must adapt with the times, so must employers and employees as well. So perhaps grasping the opportunity to reskill within an organisation that has vested interest in growing its talent base will be a next step worth considering. Let’s face it – the digital evolution is taking shape worldwide and it is here to stay. If anything, this merger is a case in point as to why it is extremely important for Malaysian companies to be
digitally ready or risk being left behind.

Tycoon in legal tussle over timber licences

A showdown between politics and business is set to unravel in the “Land Below the Wind”.

Centred on Sabah’s lucrative timber industry, a legal tussle has begun involving the Parti Warisan Sabah-led state government, financially-struggling timber concessionaire Sabah Forest Industries Sdn Bhd (SFI), SFI’s receiver and manager Grant Thornton Consulting Sdn Bhd and Pelangi Prestasi Sdn Bhd, a company related to one of the richest bumiputras in Malaysia, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary.

Also Involved in the suit is China pulp and paper company Lee & Man Paper Manufacturing Ltd.

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Global Warming Threatens Future Of Malaysia’s Oil Palm Says Top Malaysian Crop Expert

Developing crop diversity is not a threat to Malaysia’s oil palm industry. Rather it could be a vital saviour, one of the world’s top crop scientists based in KL has been explaining to the country’s leading politicians, who appear to be listening.

Professor Sayed Azam-Ali heads the prestigious Crops For the Future Research Centre (CFFRC) supported by the Malaysian Government together with Nottingham University, which is fast becoming one of the world’s most highly regarded research centres in terms of meeting future challenges for global food security.

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SEDC Taken For A Ride Or What?

Doing the rounds on social media is a story that has been raising eyebrows in Sarawak.

The public investment vehicle that is supposed to be assisting development in the state, namely the Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), has just poured a very substantial sum into the purchase of a cattle farm over in Darwin: way over the valuation and market price, according to Australian media outlets.

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Taib’s daughter fails again in bid for an injunction against Swiss NGO

Sarawak Governor Abdul Taib Mahmud’s daughter Jamilah Taib and her husband Sean Murray has failed again in their bid for an injunction against Switzerland-based NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) over alleged defamation.

On Wednesday, a Swiss Court of Appeal rejected their bid for an injunction to provisionally ban 255 publications linking her, her closest family members and her Canadian real estate companies, Sakto Corporation and Sakto Development Corporation, to alleged money-laundering and to grand corruption in Sarawak.

“We are delighted about this extremely clear and favourable judgment,” said Lukas Straumann, the executive director of BMF, in a statement today.

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