sarawak indigenous people are key partner in safeguarding the forests from illegal logging

The Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples in the Highlands of Borneo (Formadat) can be the key community partner in safeguarding the forests from illegal logging activities, while the state government provides full support in combating illegal logging in the highlands. In stating this, Chief Minister Adenan said the state government recognises the importance of the highlands, and with areas so vast, the government needs to work closely with alliances like Formadat to assist in protecting the forests, preserving water catchment areas and combating illegal logging. Since 2014, the state government has stepped up efforts to combat illegal logging in Sarawak. Illegal logging has many negative impacts on the economy, environment and society. It contributes to environmental degradation, which leads to biodiversity loss, destruction of habitats for animals and deforestation. Besides causing the State losses in millions of ringgit in terms of timber royalties, illegal logging damages the environment and tarnishes the State’s reputation,

is sarawak really combatting illegal logging ?

Take illegal loggers and wildlife offenders to court. That is the direction that Tan Sri Richard Malanjum wants relevant enforcement agencies to take. The Chief Judge of the Malaysia states of Sabah and Sarawak said so far no cases of illegal logging had been registered with the courts since Sarawak’s crackdown on illegal logging began last year. Malanjum said this could be because offenders were only issued on-the-spot fines rather than brought to court. He said there was a need for stiffer penalties to be meted out for illegal logging and other environmental offences such as killing protected wildlife.

“If you fine them, it is not effective; they are willing to pay. We need to bring them to court. “We will work with the state government and enforcement agencies on this,” he told reporters at a workshop on Environmental Protection in Sarawak. Malanjum said he wanted to see jail terms for wildlife and illegal logging offenders with the workshop being the first step to creating awareness among judges on the seriousness of such offences.

He said a similar workshop in Sabah in April had a positive impact as wildlife offenders in the state were now more likely to face imprisonment instead of just a fine. Sarawak Assistant Industrial Develop­ment Minister Datuk Peter Nansian, who opened the event, said the state government would review its enforcement system to make it more effective. “We want to tell the public first. It’s only fair for us to tell people in advance that we are going to do this,” he said. Earlier, Malanjum said the High Court planned to conduct two more workshops to improve enforcement and prosecution of environment-related offences. “The second stage will be capacity building. We want to train prosecuting officers and investigating officers on how to investigate (wildlife cases) and how to handle exhibits.

“There must also be a good working relationship between the courts, prosecuting officers and investigating officers.“The third workshop will be a review of the existing laws, where the shortcomings are, why they are ineffective, why is the penalty so low and whether we should increase it.”

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