Illegal logging a threat to ecology

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian environmental activist said illegal logging is not being managed properly and that can lead to severe environmental problems, including the loss of water resources.

EcoKnights chairman Yasmin Rashid said illegal logging was posing a threat to the country’s ecology. She urged the government to be proactive in handling the matter.

“We are not treating illegal logging as a serious threat. The government can solve it by focusing on enforcement.

“This issue should be addressed directly to the prime minister. An environment protection agency that works directly under the prime minister should be set up to tackle the matter,” she told the New Straits Times yesterday.

  She said corruption and illegal logging were inseparable, and urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to work hand in hand with government agencies to prevent such cases for recurring.

Yasmin was responding to a New Straits Times front-page report that revealed billions of ringgit worth of losses were incurred by federal and state governments because of illegal logging, including in cases that occurred in MACC’s Op Tukul in Sarawak.

A special task force found that the state had incurred RM45 million in losses in four months this year. The task force comprised senior investigating officers from the country’s anti-graft agency’s headquarters in Putrajaya, Sarawak government and Forestry Department. Sources said Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem had ordered the setting up of the task force.

MACC had also proposed long-term steps for Sarawak and other state governments in dealing with illegal loggers.

Illegal loggers were unfazed by the millions of ringgit in fines for their offences, as they regarded them as “nothing much” because they could gain much more through their ill-gotten gains.

Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia executive director Anthony Tan said there was a need to overhaul the enforcement system.

  “There are several government departments responsible for the matter, but these departments receive instructions from different authorities. To ensure better efficiency, the government should centralise these entities as they could work together to fight the problem.”


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