As Primary Industries Minister Signals Oil Palm Halt, Sarawak Forestry Keeps Chopping Native Lands

Last week, residents from two Iban longhouses in Kanowit travelled to Kuching to present a signed petition to the Sarawak Forestry Department calling for an end to years of encroachment on their native lands at Bukit Spali in Sungai Ngemah.

In particular, they want the revocation of logging licences allegedly granted to two privately-owned companies – HTK Holdings and Smartgold Resources.

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Declining Timber Revenues Reason For Oil Grab By Sarawak Leaders

The announcement of Sarawak’s 2019 budget, the biggest ever budget in its history at a whopping RM 11.9 billion, came as music to the ears of Sarawakians. After all, Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg promised that the budget would be one for the people, aimed at accelerating development in Malaysia’s largest state.

However, the reality on the ground indicates a stark difference. Regardless of how big a budget tabled by the current Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government, it will not be sufficient to move the needle in terms of development, until and unless Sarawak’s biggest enemy is first dealt with – endemic corruption by the political elite.

The bane of Sarawak’s development

Sarawak, a state blessed with an abundance of natural resources, may be the third richest state in Malaysia, but its people are among the poorest – having had the unfortunate circumstance of being governed by an inefficient and fiscally irresponsible government.

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Have Malaysians moved on from 1MDB? Survey shows education tops corruption fight

Malaysians are more concerned with education and living costs compared to cutting corruption, which fell to fourth place out of 13 issues in a recent survey.

Communications agency Citrine One Sdn Bhd, which conducted the online survey, suggested this change of priorities indicates that the public may have moved on from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal.

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What is Norza Zakaria’s involvement in Sarawak’s oil and gas, and Petros?

The outlook for the oil and gas sector in Sarawak will very soon closely resemble that of Sarawak’s timber industry at present, which is quite bleak. Sarawak’s timber resources are managed by Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (SITDC) whose strategy is to basically cut down as much forests as possible to extract the most timber in the shortest possible time. However, without any replanting scheme in place it is no wonder that timber exports are dropping. Exports declined a significant 23.5% from RM1.7 billion in the first quarter of 2017 to RM1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2018. The decline is expected to be steady until there is nothing left to cut down.

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STAR president fumes over mistake in textbook

KUCHING: The Bahasa Melayu Tingkatan 1 textbook for Form 1 students omits Sarawak as one of the oil and gas states in Malaysia in its section on the oil and gas industry of the nation.

This glaring mistake has riled State Reform Party Sarawak(STAR) president  Lina Soo who brought it to the attention of The Borneo Post yesterday.

She said the mistake in the textbook which has been used since 2017 is unacceptable.

“The book did not mention Sarawak as one of the petroleum producers in Malaysia despite Sarawak being one of the richest oil and gas locations in the world, and main contributor to the federal coffers,” Soo said.

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Lina Soo’s shooting star

In the 14th General Elections, Sarawak State Reform Party (STAR) did not win in the three parliamentary seats it contested. Neither did it win any seats in the Sarawak state elections held in 2016. The party contested in 11 seats with all the candidates losing their deposits garnering an average of less than 2% of votes cast in each seat, including Lina Soo.

She received 331 votes in the state seat of Batu Lintang, a constituency of 28,000 voters and which is currently held by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). Lina did however improve on her 2011 performance in the same seat where she received 290 votes.

This is important as although she gives the impression of representing all Sarawakians, her voice and the voice of her party should not be seen as being representative of Sarawakians as a whole. STAR itself has only 5,000 members. The population of Sarawak is just over 2.5 million. Needless to say, the majority of Sarawakians are not taken up by her or her party’s empty rhetoric and ‘syiok sendiri’ politics.  

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3 Reasons Why Sarawak Needs the 5% Petroleum Sales Tax

A walk down the passage of time, specifically over the last 10 years or so, brings about some surprising findings. For those of you needing a history lesson read on, here’s my take to the 3 incidents that “forced” the GPS government to impose the 5% sales tax on petroleum products out of Sarawak.

1.Between 2006 and 2008,  Taib’s family controlled Utama Banking Group, spending RM1.35 billion on acquisitions that never bore any fruit. This included:-

  • a 49% stake in Putrajaya Perdana Berhad for RM332 million and a further 51% stake for RM343 million 
  • a 45% stake in Loh and Loh Corp Bhd for RM124 million and a further 51% stake for RM205 million 
  • Unity Capital Partners for RM350 million
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Using The Oil Royalty Issue For Political Mileage

The moment Barisan Nasional (BN) lost the General Elections it was announced that Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) , the Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Parti Demokratik Progresif (PDP) would leave the sinking ship and form Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

The coalition is primarily interested in the state’s interest and rights and uses ‘Sarawakian loyalty’ to gain favour among the people of Sarawak. Paramount to their interpretation of Sarawakian loyalty is sovereignty over the state’s oil and gas resources.

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Sarawak’s Oil Will Go The Same Way As Its Timber

In the first three months of 2017, Sarawak exported RM1.4 billion worth of timber and timber products. In the same period only RM11.2 million worth of wooden furniture was exported, roughly 0.0000008% of total timber exports.

This comparison shows the easy way the state’s authorities have taken to manage the state’s timber resources which is simply to cut down more forests instead of focusing on higher value-added products.

They simply rubber stamp the logging and log exports by Sarawak’s large timber concerns without bothering about the forest sustainability for the future or in developing more downstream activities.

This after its former governor Abdul Taib Mahmud (above) took over as chief minister in 1981.

Tropical timber exports from Malaysia (of which Sarawak accounts for almost 70 percent of the total) has been steadily dropping from more than 26 million cubic metres in 1991 to less than 9 million cubic metres in 2011.

If Sarawak had preferred to grow its resources sustainably while creating an eco-system of support industries and further developing the downstream value-add chain, it would by now have an established range of Sarawakian furniture or wood product brands.

Sarawak would also be a world leader in forest regeneration.

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DAP wants Sarawak CM to explain investment in KL specialist hospital

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg must explain why the state government invested in the development of a children’s specialist hospital in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen (pic) said he had received the report from the Ministry of Finance that the development of the hospital involved an investment of RM600mil through a joint venture between the State Financial Secretary Sarawak and a private company, Zecon Berhad.

“There is no reason for the state government to come out with the investment and be involved in the development of the hospital outside Sarawak while complaining of the poor standard of medical facilities in Sarawak,” he told a press conference here Sunday (Nov 25).   

On another note, Chong who is Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumers Affair Minister, said Sarawak cannot continue to be an opposition state, or else it would continue to be left behind in terms of development and distribution of welfare benefits from the federal government to the people of Sarawak. – Bernama