Articles about floods(and their destruction) are now actively viraled thru internet/ multi-media / whatsapp and announced over radio/tv throughout Sarawak.
Destruction to lands, rivers, eco-systems, animals, fishes, plants, farmlands, and potential threats to communities’ safety are repeated over and over throughout Sarawak especially during the rainy seasons. GPS politicans and Oppositions had commented much on these logjams and floods and had given varied views over the matter. The focus, however, should be on carrying out proper investigations to pinpoint the problems on the non-compliance to the logging operations regulations, their consequences, corrective action and compensation to the the otherwise poor, helpless communities affected.
Politicans’ comments should be focused on directly relevant action items and report on whether the regulations had been actioned, diligently carried out or not? We all know the strict requirements of sustainable logging and the roles played by the respective parties and communities concerned.
Amicable co-operation is required to move and verify compliance on the ground. The issues voiced out in the forums are very good guidelines and frameworks to safeguard all vested parties interests if diligently acted upon and carried out.
Vested parties reports
Now rakyats asking for PL licence holders/owners, operators/contractors, Forest dept, regulators and vested parties action plan reports.
Some of us had attended these sustainable logging forums and familiar with the issues. The following are some of the questions commonly asked.
Who enforce the rules?
*Are these benchmarked to industry best practices? *
What are the consequences for non-compliance?
*What are the deterrents, fines, legal recourse, penalties including partial or total work stoppage in cases of breaches as per the rules/regulations? And for operations to safely resume once compliance re-assured?
For example, measures to clean up logging debris’ ahead of the rainy season? Or else, an immediate, instantaneous system to clear all loose, unwanted logs, methods and means to minimise, unnecessary and irresponsible degradation of lands, pollution, siltation and flooding controls effectively in place?
Rakyats haven’t heard action / mitigation reports from the supposedly responsible PL owners/licence holders and regulators pertaining to these issues yet? This needs to be verified by respective vested parties/consultants thru their certification programs. This should also allow affected communities as impartial jurors, verifiers and checkers.
Company CSR(service responsibility) to affected communities.
There should be a clear-cut minimum condition of CSR responsibility, kpgs/longhouses compound landscaping, drainage, heavy works repairs, including scholarships to primary school children/students in affected communities, kpgs / longhouses.
Since these logging companies have the heavy machinery, they could easily do the roads, drainages, pathways access; not to demand kpg MRP to finance these road repairs(as they do these years!)
In the first place these companies are the proxies of GPS coalition. They benefit tremendously over this lucrative logging all these years. There should be clear benefits to kpgs/longhouses and communities affected as well. GPS have the clout and resources to protect the interests of the affected communities. Good teamwork, co-operation, goodwill among vested parties is required. GPS needs to improve on their report card on general developments in rural Sarawak!
By the way, rural infrastructural developments in rural Sarawak are still very far behind the development of rural Malaya 1960s-1970s.
GPS have the resources to amicably resolve these issues.
*Communities complaints and representations.
Over the years, there had been Penans, Dayaks, orang ulu blokades in sporadic locations to protect their lands and forests. Community representations had reached power politicans in Kuching, KL, and also conveyed to other pressure groups. More assertive action is required of all parties. Court cases(on land dispute appeals) had not sided the natives NCR claimants. GPS gov’t need to seriously look into these matters going forward.
1. Logging PL holders/owners/contractors must now come up with their corrective action plan reports. This is a very fair deal as per the regulations. These are to mitigate, control or even stop indiscriminate logging completely as Tok Nan had said. Applied in discretion, the rules should minimise the destructive effects of the floods. According to reports, 6 floods had occurred on the Baram this rainy season alone. Past decades had their mixed-views of a long history.
During the rainy seasons, the logging should be appropriately minimised.
Odd debris’ should be responsibly managed, not allowed free flow into river systems.
2. Forestry Dept as responsible guardian should come public with their non-compliance reports, so also vested consultants, interests and associated parties.
3. Repeated breaches of the regulations should be professionally investigated and have clear consequences per the regulations.
4.Compensation -what and how are affected communities compensated?
In Baram, token food baskets are given out recently. Compared to 78 million given to Kedah as advertised in the papers, 18 million to Sabah, inclusive other payments. What is the amount for Sarawak? Rakyats are counting on the GPS government to spearhead the rights and privileges of Sarawakians on this issue as also others.
Endless complaints of Sarawakians are the responsibility of Sarawakian politicans -Mahathir Mohd GPS have the resources, experience, expertise and technical know-how to move these and other rakyats issues going forward!
GPS had done commendably well, this far. These flood issues just need some action items and fine-tuning at the moment. Rakyats believe, GPS is very capable of resolving these issues.