KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — Two Perikatan Nasional (PN) MPs today decried excessive logging activities in the country, with Arau MP Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim calling for a total ban on logging for six months to preserve forests.
Shahidan also labelled logging activities as a “game of the rich” and not the poor.
“Lastly, Speaker, I have repeated this here many times. Try and pay attention to the jungles. Make all logging illegal, make all forest exploration illegal.
“Let the forests rest for six months and we will see an environment that is beautiful and valuable,” he said.
Gerik MP Datuk Hasbullah Osman had earlier criticised statements by some loggers, whom he claimed had alleged that the excessive logging of trees were being done by the Orang Asli community members living in the forests.
He said that enforcement has also been lax, adding that forest rangers are not carrying their duties to tag trees which are fit for logging, for licenced loggers.
“Sometimes we want to laugh when loggers give reasons saying the trees are felled by the Orang Asli members. This is only a reason to scoop the earth’s resources fully.
“I believe if the forests are managed well, the government gets the returns, the loggers get their returns and the condition of our earth will be well.
“Sometimes the rangers who are supposed to tag the timber trees, they leave the tagging to the loggers, because they probably get some allowance for that,” adding that leakages are a norm, and the Forestry Department must play its role responsibly.
Hasbullah also called for replanting of timber trees to be done fully, to ensure forests are preserved, and called out state governments to not demolish such trees haphazardly, for purported planting of cash crops.
“The ones who will profit are the loggers, the ones who are abused are the forests and the one who will be victimised are the upcoming generations,” he added.
PKR’s Kuala Langat MP Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar also echoed similar concerns, and called for a dialogue with state governments to ensure everyone is on the same page on forest preservation.
Dr Xavier, who is the former Water, Land and Natural Resources minister, also pointed out that forests fall under the jurisdiction of state governments, and efforts are therefore needed from the state-level.
“I want to congratulate all who spoke just now on the condition of the forests and water. It is right. We want to do something and we have tried to do something via the ministry and all. However, we must remember that the ones with the logging power and the power to do something about the forests are the respective states, and it is not in the ministry’s hands.
“When licenses are given for logging, it is issued by the states, not by the ministry. Duties of the forest officers are to tag the trees to be felled. They have to keep watch and monitor. Enforcement must also be done by the states. Not by the ministry,” he said.
Dr Xavier said that this was why Pakatan Harapan had provided considerable allocation to states for forest preservation efforts, which he labelled a “gift”.
The MPs were debating the Supplementary Supply (2019) Bill 2020 for the Energy and Natural Resources ministry.