KOTA KINABALU, Sabah state, Malaysia Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal said no exception will be made on the state government’s decision to temporarily ban the export of round logs until certain issues are settled.

Saying that what must be done has to be done immediately, Mohd Shafie quipped that he would not entertain lobbying from any quarters and the decision to impose the ban on logs was endorsed at the state Cabinet meeting on Monday.

There are serious decisions to be made concerning the logging industry in Sabah and I have to put my foot down in the best interest of the people. I realise that its a tough decision to make but it has to be done. As a matter of fact, it should have been implemented a long time ago.

The ban could be temporary or it could be long-term, and the matter will be studied thoroughly. I am all for our logs to be processed locally so that legal sawmills can operate and provide sawn timber and other value-added products, which in turn would create more job opportunities, he said in a statement yesterday.

The chief minister said the Sabah Forestry Department would be directed to inform all players, concessionaires, as well as, operators of Forest Management Units (FMUs) to comply with the Cabinet’s decision with immediate effect.

On Monday, the chief minister ordered the Yayasan Sabah Group’s Forestry Division to undertake a comprehensive review of its operations after it was disclosed that ‘exclusive operators’ held a monopoly and took the bulk of the profits.

Mohd Shafie, who is also Sabah Foundation Chairman, expressed disbelief and sadness when told that Rakyat Berjaya (RBJ) Sdn Bhd, the operator of the foundation’s timber resources, had been in the red for four out of five years since 2013.

‘Exclusive operators’ are companies which enjoyed special privileges from the previous government and former Chief Minister. Their deal involved extraction of logs, buying them and then having the privilege of exporting them at the best prices while RBJ only received a fraction of the profits.

RBJ’s operations also seem to indicate that the company can make better profits if logs are processed into sawn timber.

It was noted that RBJ could earn better profits if it sold the logs themselves.

Mohd Shafie said such a policy must stop as whatever business deals the government or its agencies are involved with must be productive and bring maximum benefit, not for the leaders, but the people.

Now it looks like the well-connected ‘exclusive contractors’ are reaping in fat profits out of logging activities while Yayasan Sabah is paid pittance and in some cases even incur debts.

It is obvious that only a handful of people are benefiting from the logging operations while Yayasan Sabah is forced to downsize as there is very little money for its operations,” said Mohd Shafie, adding that there was an urgent need to put matters right.

He promised to pave the way for Yayasan Sabah to regain its glorious days and be able to finance its core activities of providing education and free medical services to the needy.

Source: NAM News Network

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