Friday, March 6, 2015

Natives must endeavor to take active part in land development

Usually, the oppositions engage in rendering talks that the government’s policies on education, commerce and industry are favorable to Bumiputras only in the run up to the election or by – election in particular.  They allege that the non Bumiputras and Bumiputras are not playing on a level playing field in such areas of development. 

Those were the basis for them to come up with the slogan of social justice and in their campaign for change of the Government both at the Federal and State levels. Arguably, the peak of their campaign for change was in the run up to the 13th State elections, which they carried out vociferously to such an extent that they even engaged evil writers and western propagandists to make unsubstantiated allegations against the leadership.    

Generally, the response from some Bumiputras is understandable. Of course, the government policy is not fair. If it has been fair the Bumiputra in Sarawak, who form more than 70% of the population should have 70% share in the State wealth. But the reverse is happening; they own less than 20% of the wealth.

But as Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, the fourth Prime Minister, used to say if everybody is unhappy with the related policies then they can be considered to be fair. Otherwise, if the Bumiputras are happy and the Non Bumiputras are not happy, the policy is only favorable to the Bumiputras and not to the Non Bumiputras.  

However, as the government is by the people and for the people, it must assume the primary responsibility to help Bumiputras to raise their stakes in the State or national wealth, if Malaysia is to emerge as a reasonably just society by the year 2020.  

However, the Bumiputra communities on their part must endeavor to find ways to participate more meaningfully in the implementation of the development plans and programs to ensure that they will not to be left out of the mainstream of development. They must take full advantage of the thrusts of the current and succeeding development plans that give them opportunities to equalize themselves with other communities.

Basically, the Economic Transformation Program is the migration from the middle income to high income economy by the year 2020. Its primary objective is to tackle the problem of poverty, try to equalize the incomes of the country and sustain the debt level so that Malaysia can become a developed nation by the year 2020.

 More importantly, the country, the state by extension must be able to sustain the level of income of between US15,000 to US 20,000 as a developed nation. These are high targets.  

The Prime Minister, Dato Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak, in a very imaginative way, wants problems in implementing the development plan should be identified, analyzed and solved as early as possible by taking into consideration the local situations in order to achieve the desired goals.   

Understandably, the style of administration must accommodate local knowledge or problems so that they can be valued in a more imaginative way. For example, the delivery system must operate based on the slogan of people first, performance a priority to ensure that the country or the state will achieve the desired targets.

The Yang di Pertua Negeri, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, while still the Chief Minister, in his speeches used to remind the people that as Sarawak gained Independence six years later than other states in Peninsular Malaysia, it has got quite a lot of catch up to do. For example, the State has to build more roads and extend more electricity and water supplies to the people in rural areas as a matter of priority.  

More people in rural areas should have the basic amenities to catch up with the people in the urban areas. Arguably, major urban centers and cities are enjoying rapid growth and small towns have grown into bigger towns. This shows that development has taken place faster in the urban areas when compared to rural areas.

Sarawak Rural Development Plan

Logically, the State Government must intensify efforts in developing the rural areas in the coming years In order to narrow the development disparity in the State. Therefore, the State Government as spelt out in Budget 2015 will give priority to the development of rural areas especially those with vast economic potentials. 

With the growing demand for more development, the State Government will place greater priority to the development of key infrastructures such as major road connections, clean water and electricity supplies and other public amenities for the rural people.  

The new development, among other things, should be able to create environment in areas that is conducive for the private sector to venture into viable economic activities such as plantation development, aquaculture, large - scale food cultivation and processing and other resource-based value added industries.

Hopefully, the new emphasis will be able to yield better results in spite of the problems of transportation, scattered community in small numbers and a bit of below par number of people, who have got the right skills and talents to mobilize the rural economy. 

There will be lot problems, not only administrative and procedural in nature, but how to equip the people, young people in particular with the right kind of skills and qualifications to work in industrial plants and factories with industrialization.  

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said the development plan for Sarawak all the way to the year 2030 has been formulated based on the policy of trying to integrate the most backward parts of Sarawak namely the central region of Sarawak that comprises places like Kanowit, Kapit, Belaga and Ulu Baram into a kind of corridor in order to harness their potentials in development.

It means the integration of the economy in order to create the economy of scale to undertake projects that can give economic industries. Quite obviously the plan coincides with the concept of the New Economic Model. 

However, the State Government has to identify a kind of force that can make the integration possible.  The central region, unlike the southern part which is quite densely populated, is sparsely populated. However, the region has greatest magnet in the form of water resources.  Hence, the approach to the new development plan has to concentrate on how to give comparatively cheaper rates of energy to industries.

Besides, Sarawak is known to have about half a billion ton of coal reserves that can become sources of energy on top of hydro power.  Hence, the State can be more flexible in planning the development of the energy resources and even out the curves in building the supply of energy.

But hydroelectricity is not easy development to undertake especially for a developing State like Sarawak, which not long ago was in the back water of development. It takes at least four to five years to plan and probably three to four years to develop a hydro dam.  

Sarawak, with half a billion tons of coal, is in the position to fill in the gap between the thrust of the supply of hydro energy with those from coal fired generating power plants. The State has a plan to generate 3,000MW of electricity by 2016.  The target is to have a minimum of 20,000 MW of electricity all the way to 2030.

That will enhance the State’s ability to give energy at the earlier stage. The State aims to produce as much energy as possible in the early stage so that heavy industries can come in earlier.

Understandably, the state has the ambition to bring world class industries to come to Sarawak as its emphasis on industrialization. Therefore, it has to work hard to get the necessary investments and capital to develop the energy resources to attract heavy industries that can give real impact to the local people.

Generally, they will be able to create downstream industries for the benefits of the local people. For example, the aluminum industry will be able to create wide range of downstream industries including a factory worth of RM1 million to produce aluminum products for windows or other things.

The State’s plan is to have four or five other mechanical pulp and paper plants, each in Ulu Baram, Kapit and Betong, where the soil is more suitable for tree planting industry.  A plan will need the support of 50,000 hectares of forests, which will be planted with fast growing species of trees. 

Hopefully, the development will be able to produce high value products and create more opportunities for better employment for the local people to improve their livelihood.

The State is estimated to export RM4 billion worth of Halal products annually from Tanjung Manis within seven years. Some of the products will come all the way from Bintulu, Igan or Tunoh in Kapit division. The Halal hub industry has already started the right way with the setting up of a laboratory. 

The State is investing with Taiwanese investors as partners to develop the hub to produce food that should be devoid of chemical hazard or other things. For example, the hub plans to produce chickens that do not contain lots of anti-biotic. The hub has the formula to ensure that the meat to be produced will be free of anti-biotic. That will be a premium formula. There will be many other things that will benefit from bio-tech process.

The Halal market is still fresh area to be exploited in the world market. Therefore, there is no reason why Malaysia, as a respected Muslim country all over the world, should not to take the Halal hub very seriously. The State has planned to make Tanjung Manis, which is riddled with rivers and a good water body, as the centre for the Halal hub industry.

The region has got a very good port and another port will be built at Paloh, which is deeper than Kuala Rajang, to provide easier access to the world market.

It is estimated that about 1.5 million jobs will be created by the year 2030 with the development of heavy industries and their downstream activities.  Obviously, Sarawak will have a lot of new things that have not been tried in Peninsular Malaysia with the development of SCORE.

However, the success of the development of heavy industries hinges on the State’s capability and efficiency in producing people with technical knowledge and skills and professionals to man local industries.  Hence, conscientious efforts must be made to encourage more Bumiputras to undertake technical education rather than the normal path of education.

This will help to ensure there will be no mismatch between the kind of people being trained and the kind of jobs that will created by industries in the development of the economy in future.

The State, which started the oil palm industry later than Semenanjung Malaysia, has been able to take necessary steps to contain and control pollutants. For example, the State has fish ponds in areas where the water from the factories is being discharged. Sarawak will have 2 million hectares of palm oil by the year 2020.

This is the kind palm oil industry, which can be considered to be more modern, being developed in the State. Generally, the State has reached a stage of development that puts great emphasis on environmental protection that even the timber industry does not pollute the environment.

Hopefully, more qualified Bumiputras will return to work in rural areas to manage plantations or take part in downstream industrial activities as development is being pushed to their areas towards the year 2020 and beyond.  

Sarawak Monitor

6 March 2015

Sarawak pioneers formula to develop Native lands

Arguably, Sarawak, through Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) has been quite successful in implementing a sophisticated formula for the development of Native customary Rights land for the benefits of the owners.

Even countries in North America or Pacific Islands nations have not been able to come up with solutions to develop customary rights lands, which have been serving as the basis for early settlements, for the benefits of owners.

The State’s target is to develop 2 million hectares NCR land to enable most of the people, who have been dependent on lands, to have a pension scheme. Probably their children, who may not want to go back to land like in the old days, will have a choice, either to hold shares or work in the estates, something that will give them better returns.

This is what SALCRA, now a successful business organization, has been doing for nearly 20,000 participants of its estates with a total acreage of more than 50,000 hectares.  More importantly, SALCRA has found a solution to help the people, who have been ignorant, helpless and unable to use market mechanism and modern business strategies to develop their lands.

Admittedly, SALCRA started with lots of problems. A lesser organization than it   would easily give up because of quarrels, misunderstandings and opposition to whatever it wanted to do for the landowners. 

Besides, the opposition and unfriendly NGOs would be quick to instigate land owners not to participate in any development that could make their land to become real economic assets.

Undeniably, SALCRA owed its success to efforts of the State Government under the leadership of Tun Pehin Sri Haji Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, then the Chief Minister of Sarawak, who since the early 80s started to think seriously how to make a success of SALCRA schemes as a way to help the people, who had largely been living in hardship and spreading in small groups over a wide area, to improve their livelihood.

Then the Natives among themselves could accumulate about two million hectares of land through the traditional practice of shifting cultivation of opening and occupying new areas before January 1. 1958.  Logically, they should be accorded the rights to keep the lands and be assisted to get good values from them. 

There is already a vast tract of Native Customary Right land over the land surface of the State but the owners do not get much benefit from them largely because they do not have the capability to convert the lands to become assets.  

Generally, there is a big gap in the value between land owned by Bumiputra and lands owned by non Bumiputras because they do not have certainty of sizes; most of the Native lands do not have titles. 

Regrettably, those with titles tend to go into the market and get sold at cheap prices because of economic pressure on life. This practice, if allowed to continue unchecked, may make Native land owners poorer in having assets.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, while still the Chief Minister, said the State Government must have the resolve, determination and political will to tackle the problems of NCR lands even though they were full of traps and difficulties. There was no other way to help Bumiputras, who have lands in rural areas, except to use the lands that were already available to them in order to raise their value. 

He recalled in the First Malaysia Plan, which introduced New Economic Policy as the main thrust to eradicate poverty among the people, the Natives in Sarawak could not be included within the purview of the policy.  In Semenanjung Malaysia, poverty was being interpreted to mean estate dwellers, residents of New Villages and people, who did not have land.

Then the State could not argue about their position as the Federal authority was not knowledgeable about the form of land holdings or land system in Sarawak. The problem was made more complicated as the people could not develop their land due to the internal security problems posed by armed members of the Communists Organization operating in Sibu, Sarikei and Kapit divisions. The area had to be declared a special area and administered under Rajang Security Command to tackle the security problem.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib attributed the success of SALCRA to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, who is also the Minister of Modernization of Agriculture and the Minister of Rural Development and Chairman of SALCRA, who had  wide experience and deep understanding of the feeling and attitude of the Dayaks in guiding its development programs.

Datuk Patinggi Jabu, as an agricultural scientist, has expert knowledge about agriculture like rubber, palm oil and other crops.  He is very detailed  in his approach to any problems.   

Undeniably, SALCRA has grown up to become a corporate organization, a money making organization with the ability to build a new attitude among Bumiputra towards the prospects of developing their Native Customary Right lands or NCR lands.

Obviously, the success of estates being developed by SALCRA helps to induce a lot of qualified people to go back to Ulu areas and to help the local people.   In other words, SALCRA has become a mechanism in creating jobs for people with good education to come back and help their own people.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said SALCRA had already started doing a good job since 1981 but its schemes did not have the economy of scale. For example, there were many people being engaged to open up a small tract of land only.

Hence, the priority was to build the economy of scale for SALCRA. In the period of 1982 – 1983, though the State did not have much money, the Government decided whatever cash that could be accumulated by managing the country well, must be used by SALCRA first. Very few people knew about this.

In other words, any surplus money could be used to make SALCRA a bigger operation with an economy of scale. From thence onward, the State Government had a view that SALCRA should play a bigger role than what it used to do in developing Lemanak and Skuau land schemes.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib recalled he got involved in opposing the proposal in 1965 to amend the Land Code to allow Native land to be developed without any provisions to safeguard the rights of owners over their lands. Hence, SALCRA must be strengthened to enable it to play a more significant role in the development of Native lands.

He said appropriate steps must be taken to reorganize SALCRA and inject it with more money; the whole organization had to be revamped. Besides, the government also decided that SALCRA should concentrate on its estates in First and Second divisions in order to be more focused and efficient in their development. It could risk experiencing logistical problems if it were allowed to spread over a wide area of operation.

However, the success of SALCRA has not been a complete solution yet for reason that while people who own more than 10 acres of land and have the patience to participate in Native Estates being developed by SALCRA, can benefit from it those who own below 10 acres may not be able to do so. 

Even those with less than five acres want their land to be developed as part of the estate. Generally, people, each with five acres or below, do not get many dividends from their lands. They may not be satisfied with their income.

Regrettably, they are also prone to instigation by the opposition not to join estates being developed either by SALCRA or Pelita, which they allege as instrument by the government to grab Native lands. 

Therefore, conscientious efforts must be made to formulate a new scheme, which must be more flexible to help the participants, once they become too old to work on their lands, to have some income.   BY then, they have to depend on small dividends to support their livelihood.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon the State government to consider, instead of giving welfare fund, to use the money to buy shares as way to increase their assets. Once they can have more shares in the estates they should be able to get more monthly income to support their livelihood.

Understandably, the State government has discussed with the Federal Government on a scheme to give loan and that half of it can be used to buy shares to be allocated to poor participants of any estates.

Besides, the State government could also implement a land exchange scheme for land owners, who do not want to develop their lands any more, to sell their shares to the scheme.  However, the shares cannot be bought by non Bumiputras as it remains illegal for non-Bumiputras to take over the NCR rights in any joint- venture company.

The land exchange scheme provides the new generation with two choices, firstly to work in the modern agricultural sector or keep their shares in Native Estate development scheme that can give them dividends every year.  In other words, they can choose either to keep their money in Trust Fund or shares in land development companies.

Generally, Native land owners are encouraged to make a perimeter survey of their land. In this regards, the State government is prepared to consider making the perimeter survey and return the land to the people that have basis for joint ownership according to proportions of land owned by them. The land and survey department has already identified lands that will be surveyed. 

The State government should be able to launch more estates to involve more land owners, once they have made a perimeter survey of their lands in modern estates development.
The modern estate development, which emphasizes on usage of modern management and having access to capital and bank money, is an efficient way to involve more owners of NCR land in modern land development and get benefits from it.

Besides, the new development will also give opportunities to non Bumiputras to participate legally in such development, which is the most important thing for the people to do.  It will create a sense of partnership and not a sense of isolation in the new development. 

Undeniably, the State has found a solution to develop NCR land. But it requires all enlightened people among Bumiputras to be willing to come forward to explain its objectives to land owners. The way of LCDA now takes between two to three years to implement a project; it is a bit slow.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said the State Government was of the view that it should not restrict the development of NCR land to LCDA only. The organizations like SALCRA, FELDA, FELCRA, as established organizations, should be encouraged to form joint ventures with NCR land owners to develop their lands.

Ideally, the land should not remain idle as they do not give any benefit to anybody. It is a waste that has to be tackled by all likeminded people, who have the welfare and interests of the people in their heart.

In this connection, the people must fight with greater determination attempts by foreign NGOs or unfriendly local NGOs in opposing efforts to develop NCR lands mainly for their own political consideration. They have resorted to spread false propaganda or outright lies to instigate the Native land owners to oppose any proposals to develop their lands.

He assured that the State Government has the political will to do what need to be done to convince more Bumiputras to develop their lands in the era of modern business and accessibility to bank loans and other capitals. 

Undoubtedly, it is an efficient way to ensure that Native land owners do not get trapped in having a lot lands that do not command good value.     Generally native lands, which used to be valued at RM200 or RM300 per acre before the inception of SALCRA and LCDA, now can command the same value as any land that is being developed for estates by investors. 

Sarawak Monitor
28 February 2015

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sarawak is lucky to have a leader like Tun Abdul Taib

Undeniably, the State has been very successful in terms of progress and development during the last 51 years of Independence within Malaysia, more so during the last 33 years under the leadership of Pehin Sri Abdul, who is acclaimed of being bold and visionary in his tireless efforts to transform Sarawak from one of the least developed to become one of fastest developing states in the country. 

This is the new reality of the successful efforts in development with the philosophy of the politics of development during the last 33 years. For example, the state can boast the overall progress and prosperity six times better than those being achieved by the previous governments, mainly the Brookes and colonial administration put together during the last 200 years. 

Kuching Waterfront (1960s)
Kuching Waterfront

Looking ahead, Sarawak is poised to achieve greater height of success in terms of development and progress; it should be able to join other states to become a developed state by the year 2020. 

Sarawak with the per capita income of about RM42,000, should be  able to attain the status of a developed economy by the year 2017 or earlier than the year 2020.  It is anticipated that the future development, with a very encouraging response from foreign investors towards the industrial development, will be massive. 

The gross domestic product in 1963 was RM505 million and now after 50 years of Independence, it is RM108 billion. The per capita in 1963 was RM688 and now it is RM42,000.

Undoubtedly, the people, since Independence in 1963 have been enjoying the benefits of development.  For example, there were more people under employment than employment in 1963. Generally, the people had to live from hand to mouth. They had to work first before they could have their meals. By the 70s, there were only 300,000 job opportunities. Now there are 1.1 million job opportunities in the State. 

The rate of unemployment in 1990 was 9.9%. It has dropped to around 4% now. As a consequence, the rate of poverty has been reduced from more than 60% in 1963 to 2.4% now. The household income in 1963 was only RM410 and now it is RM4,200 an increase of more than 10 times. 

With the current pace of development to be accelerated with the development of SCORE, the development of Samalaju Industrial estate and Tanjung Manis Halal hub in particular, Sarawak will become a developed State by the year 2017 or 2018 well before the year 2020.  That is the overall economy that the people will be living in towards the year 2020 and beyond. 

Arguably, Sarawak has been able to succeed fast with most of the income coming from outside. The State, with a population of only 2.5 million, cannot depend on its own wealth and resources.  Fortunately, Sarawak has become part of the world trading partner and has been able to play a global game to build its revenue and wealth. 

The Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Haji Satem in his speech during the Malam Menjunjung Kasih (People’s Appreciation dinner for His Excellency for his 33 years of dedicated service to the people, State and country as the Chief MInister) said it would take him until the following morning to list out things that His Excellency has done for Sarawak.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan used to say if the history of Sarawak is written in future, the chapter on Tun Abdul Taib be the most significant chapter in the history of Sarawak.  He has succeeded in transforming the state from the most backward state; the back water to what it is today, one of the most progressive states in the country.

His Excellency, as the Chief Minister, transformed Sarawak from the back water for so many years to what it is today, prosperous, confident, developed, maybe not enough development but he has shown us the direction.  That was his contribution.

Simpang Tiga Interchange

Datuk Patinggi Adenan, in paying a glowing tribute to His Excellency, said all the development plans and programs that have or are being implemented all his ideas and aspirations. The State has been very lucky to have a leader like him, who is not easy to find.  Sarawak or Malaysia for the matter is indeed very lucky to have Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib as a leade.

He has served his country well. He has served the people, state and country brilliantly as the post Independent Cabinet Minister during the time of Ningkan(Tan Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong NIngkan, the first Chief Minister)  as the Minister of Communications and Works,  the Minister of Forestry and etc.

He served in the Federal Cabinet for 13 years serving in various capacities including the Minister of Primary Industries, Minister of Defence, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Minister of General Planning and Socio-economic research and the Minister of Federal Territories.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan used to say he is the man of all seasons like a renaissance, whose knowledge is not only deep but very wide.  Talking to him is an education by itself.  That is the mark of the man. The people, who have the opportunity to talk to him on any subjects like history, politics or any other subjects, will learn something from what he has said. 

Borneo Medical Centre

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said he has known His Excellency for the past 50 years and to him Tun is the combination of the wisdom of Tunku Abdul Rahman (Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Alhaj, the first Prime Minister), his adopted father, the dedication of Tun Razak (Tun Abdul Razak,the second Prime Minister)  the sincerity of Tun Hussein (Tun Hussein Onn,the third Prime Minister)  the commitment of Tun  Dr. Mahathir  bin Mohamed, the dedication of Najib(Dato Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak )  and the flair of P.Ramlee.   

He said he has never seen some one so crazy about a singer; he would sing P.Ramlee’s song while flying, he would sing P.Ramlee’s songs during dinners, he would sing P.Ramlee’s  songs before going to sleep; in other words,  he sings  P.Ramlee during whatever time he has for himself.   

He was the No.1 fan of P.Ramlee.   That was because of the soul, music and the harmony that His Excellency saw in P.Ramlee.  He believed His Excellency he was the first one to recognize the greatness of P.Ramlee. Other people realized the greatness of P.Ramlee as a musician, singer, actor and film director only after he had died.  

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said His Excellency is the man who reflects the soul of P.Ramlee. Those are the characteristics of the man of all seasons and the man who had the vision for the people, State and country.  He has ideas and aspirations for the people and the state.

Tanjung Manis Halal Hub

He started to know Abdul Taib 52 years ago in the year 1961 or 1962 while he was still in school preparing for the Senior Cambridge examination.  Then all senior secondary students used to gather on Saturday afternoon at  Sekolah Rakyat Abang Haji Bolhasan to listen to talks given by  Bumiputra graduates in those days.

Then on one Saturday afternoon it was Abdul Taib’s turn to give lecture to them. He did not know Abdul Taib before that. When he came some friends commented that he looked like P.Ramlee. They all agreed that his movements and actions resembled those of the late   P.Ramlee. 

He came with his Australian wife, who was locally referred to as Ma’am.  In those days when people talked about Ma’am, they all thought she came from England. She was tall and different from other Ma’am.  She came from Australia. She was an Australian of Polish decent and already a Muslim. 

Swinburne University Sarawak Campus
University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS)

Datuk Patinggi Adenan recalled Abdul Taib came with his car Opel and they were all very impressed to see a foreign car being driven by a Malay.  All of them were very impressed by his talk. The other personalities who used to give lectures to them were Dato Abdul RahmanYa’akub (now Tun Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Rahman Ya’akub and  Safri Awang Zaidell, now Tan Sri Dato Haji Safri Awang Zaidell. 

Datuk Patinggi Adenan admitted at 17 years old he could not really appreciate the importance of subjects like history, education, nationalism and others. But later on when he  entered the University of Adelaide,  the same university as Abdul Taib, he realized the truth in all what Abdul Taib had been telling them about nationalism, the love of the state, the importance of education and knowledge.  

Then he realized that Abdul Taib, who looked very much like P Ramlee had a very high standard which he should follow.  He used to say Abdul Taib bin Mahmud was an inspiration for young people of his generation like a beacon on a hill to let them do better things in life. 

Sibu Lanang Bridge

He admitted it was very hard to follow his footsteps.  His first step to follow Abdul Taib was to study in the same university.  Even as a student His Excellency made a name for himself.  The lecturers in the university or judges in Adelaide, all knew that he also came from Sarawak.

He said every time he made mistakes the lecturers would tell him, Abdul Taib would not make such mistakes. They would compare him with Abdul Taib. It was a real disadvantage to him. 

Datuk Patinggi Adenan, now following the footstep of His Excellency as the fifth Chief Minister of Sarawak, said he could anticipate the problem as it was a real problem to fit into a bigger shoe. He has his own style and he needs time to do his work.   

He said the appointment of Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib as the seventh Yang di Pertua Negeri is most appropriate; it is right that he should be there. He should have the time to relax at his age and after serving the people, state and country with selfless dedication and huge sacrifices.  

Tun Salahuddin Bridge in Kuching
He said the people from all walks of life gathered in thousands to such an extent that both inside and outside the banquet hall were packed with the guests who wanted to show their thanks and gratitude to the paramount leader during the past five decades.

This was to show how much the people, comprising of diverse ethnic and religious groups love and respect Abdul Taib. It also reflected their sadness as he would no longer lead them as their political leader. 

However, they all consider his new appointment as the Yang di Pertua Negeri, as the   umbrella to protect them from the hot sun or from the rain. 

Datuk Patinggi Adenan thanked Datuk Amar Abang Haji Johari Tun Openg, the Minister of Housing and also the Minister of Tourism, who was the Chairman of the main Organising committee, for pledging on behalf of other cabinet Ministers their full support to him.  The responsibility of the Chief Minister is very heavy and the success hinges on team efforts. 

Sarawak Monitor
28 January 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

No more State land for large scale oil palm plantation

The state government is actively considering of keeping 60% of the total land surface of Sarawak of 12.4 million hectares as permanent forest in accordance with the land use policy framework, which spells out ways in which all activities relating to forestry, agricultural and others are structured to achieve balance and sustainable development.

In essence the land use policy framework is designed to achieve high economic growth and at the same time protect the State’s natural land forms, biodiversity, natural resources and ecosystem services and mitigate local and global climate change.

Out of the total acreage, 6 million hectares are classified as permanent forest estates (PFE) and 1 million hectares as Totally Protected Area (TPA). The state government has already set aside 1 million hectares in the permanent forest estates for tree plantations, which are being and will be planted with fast growing species of trees.


A total of four (4) million hectares or 32% of the permanent forest estates is reserved for agricultural purpose (food security) while three (3) million hectares are earmarked for oil palm (estates and small holders). The areas are inclusive of NCR land, which by definition is agriculture area with the estimated acreage of 1.6 million hectares, . The total acreage of areas under the Provisional Lease (PL) is 2.5 million hectares. The areas are principally for oil palm estates.

Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Haji Satem, has already declared his intention to increase the area under forestry sector by at least 3% from the current 5.7% to 6%, which will enlarge the acreage of forests areas from 7 million hectares to 7.5 million hectares. 

He said there will be no more State land to be given out for oil palm plantation for a foreseeable future. The existing lands under the provisional lease and part of the NCR lands of 500,000 hectares are more than adequate for this purpose. .

He said the state government will progressively reduce log production, which it has been doing over the years, from the natural forest. At the same time, the state government will intensify efforts to plant 1 million hectares of planted forests areas with fast growing species of trees to feed the local timber industries.

In this connection, most of the needs of local timber industries will come from tree plantation areas in future. Thus there will be a corresponding decrease on reliance on the tropical timber from natural forest. This in itself will help to eliminate illegal logging in the natural forests.  

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said continuous efforts will be made to tackle illegal logging and smuggling of logs. However, cooperation and assistance from all sectors of the society are paramount and it is in fact a prerequisite to achieve success in this noble course.

Sarawak has a long history of exploiting the natural resources based on proper legislation in management and land usage. The practice incorporates the essence of economic, society and environment.  However, its outlook has changed as it has to respond to the needs and demands of the changing time.

Sarawak Rainforests from 2015 Google's Map Data

Actually, the State decided long before the ITTO Mission in the 1990s on how best to sustain and manage the forest resources.  Coincidently, the State’s decisions coincided with the recommendations by ITTO to make it easier for the State to move ahead the same path with the international organization.

Undoubtedly, environment conservation in the country, the State of Sarawak in particular, was given a new lease of life by Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, who, since early 70s as the Minister of Primary Industries, shared the fears of conservationists that clear cut logging, for example, would turn Peninsular Malaysia into a timber importer in a decade.
As the fourth Chief Minister of Sarawak from March 26, 1981 to February 28, 2014, he implemented the policy to preserve over 50% of the areas as permanent forests, which would be something that few countries in the world could afford to do so. Of course, some of the areas would gradually be logged for roads construction and sites of hydro dams, as and when needed, in places like Ulu Kapit, Ulu Baram and Ulu Limbang.

The State has been giving priority to the conservation of natural resources and the state government is committed to achieve an ideal balance between environmental protection and economic development, especially after the 1992 Earth Summit.

Regrettably, the State government, the leadership in particular, was being criticized by foreign NGOs, which obviously had very little knowledge about Sarawak. Obviously, they wanted a cause to fight to qualify them to get fund from their sponsors including their own governments.

They carried out campaigns  against Sarawak to project it to the world where the people in the government abuse their forest resources; they rake them supposedly to make a lot of money for themselves. 

But this was far from the truth with State’s forest policy to preserve permanently more than 50%; in fact more than 54% of the forests areas remain permanently as forests. Out of these areas, the State reserves 1 million hectares for permanent forests as parks, water catchment areas, which cannot be touched at all.

The rest will be harvested on systematic basis or to allow the forest to grow in a circle of 50 years; the area can only be harvested after a cycle of 50 years.  Basically, the State’s forests policy is to ensure trees that are less than 25 years cannot be touched at all.  On that basis when the next 25 years come for the same forest area, the trees will be more than 50 years.  

Generally, forests in Sarawak are being looked after very well.  The State has been practising the sustainable policy, as recommended by FAO and ITTO or International Tropical Timber Organization, in exploiting the forest resources.  

Sarawak's Hill Mixed Dipterocarp Forest

Sarawak’s forest areas comprise of Hill Mixed Dipterocarp Forest with the total acreage of 9.69 million hectares (96,900 km sq); Peat Swamp Forest, 1.28 million hectares (12,800 km sq and Mangrove Forest, 93,000 hectares (9,300 km sq)

Out of the total, 710,884 hectares (7,108 km sq) are being conserved as totally protected areas as follows:   22 National Parks - 517,704 hectares (5,177 km sq); five Nature Reserves - 945 hectares (9.45 km sq) and four Wildlife Sanctuaries -192,235 hectares (1,922.35 km sq)

Currently, there are about 1 million hectares of land comprising the State land and the Native Customary Rights land have been cleared for palm oil plantations.  A further one million hectares are earmarked for future development.

However, the State government is committed to achieve the goal in a sustainable manner. Necessary steps are being taken to balance the establishment of palm oil plantations with reforestation programs.  

Understandably, an increase in demand for palm oil from overseas is fuelling the development of plantations in Sarawak, stimulating government subsidies to small land owners, regenerating many rural areas and providing employment for many local people.

Besides, the State government has been taking proactive activities to promote reforestation program among local timber industrialists.  For example, it has initiated programs, based on a long-term vision, to establish forest plantations in the State.  

Mixed dipterocarp forest composed of massive trees at Lambir Hills National Park, Sarawak

Ultimately, Sarawak will be able to reduce dependency on natural forest and make timber industry more sustainable and that the state’s biodiversity protected. The government is confident that in future, a large part of Sarawak’s timber production will come from forest plantations. 

Sarawak, since it started the Reforestation program in 1981, has been able to plant about 24,173 hectares (241.73 km sq) of deforested areas with Acacia mangium, Kelampayan, Sentang, Meranti, Durian and Rubber. 

Malaysia is being recognised as one of the 12 mega diversity nations in the world and Sarawak as one of the 25 biological hotspots. The State can boast of the following plant and animal species:

  • 247 species of trees – no other tropical rainforests anywhere in the world show such abundance and diversity of a single family of big trees 
  • 280 palm flora, representing 10% of the world’s total
  • 185 species of mammals in Sarawak
  • 10,000 – 12,000 flowering plant species in Borneo
  • 530 bird species in Borneo; and 154 snake species in Borneo

One of the most stupid things that foreign writers have been writing is blaming the so-called disappearance of Orang utan in Borneo to the excessive logging of forests in Sarawak. Obviously, they are very ignorant of the fact that Orang Utans can only be located in specific areas.

In Sarawak, they can be sighted at Lanjak-Entimau Wild Life Sanctuary, Batang Ai National Park and Ulu Sebuyau National Park.  These areas, gazette as totally protected areas, have total acreage of 250,000 hectares (2,500 km sq) or three times the size of Singapore. 

Besides, Sarawak has two wildlife centres each at Semenggoh and Matang for the study and rehabilitation of orang utans that have been found injured, orphaned or kept as illegal pets.

Contrary to what western writers, who have no business to poke their nose in the affairs of Sarawak, write about the local forests, they are well protected.  In this respect, the Forest Department Sarawak, established in 1919, is collaborating with other government agencies such as the Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation to ensure that the forests are well  maintained and preserved.

Sarawak Monitor
27 January 2015