By Suresh Kashuerin
KUALA LUMPUR: Two DAP elected representatives from Sabah lodged a report at the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) in Putrajaya to investigate allegations of illegal logging and “irregularities” following the discovery of 14 Pygmy elephant carcasses in Gunung Rara forest reserve in Tawau in Jan 2013.
Kota Kinabalu MP Jimmy Wong and Sandakan MP Chan Foong Hin also held a press conference at the Parliament lobby after lodging the report at MACC.
In the report, they cited the legal suits filed by a former Environmental Manager of a subsidiary company of Yayasan Sabah that was given the logging concession in Gunung Rara.
The environmental manager had named three people including a key Yayasan Sabah officer for the move to transfer her to another division after she started questioning the elephants’ death.
“Is it because she knows too much that she was ordered to move to another division that has got nothing to do with her field of expertise?” they asked.
They also referred to the news report quoting Kalabakan MP Abdul Ghapur Salleh who also called on the MACC to probe into the matter because the death of the elephants had captured global attention.
“Until today nobody has been found responsible although lab reports showed that the elephants died of poisoning,” they said. “Is it that difficult to back track the movement of the elephants and who is the contractor of the area where the carcasses were found?”
Such an amount of poison could also be tracked down to the inventory list of the company concerned,” they added. “We are lodging the report as a follow up to Ghapur’s statement.”
They also want an investigation into alleged hanky panky in the Sabah Forestry Department that they claimed led to the deaths of the elephants.
They said they were shocked to find out that the present director of forestry also sits on the board of directors of the Yayasan Sabah’s subsidiary company which was given the Gunung Rara concession. “This is a complete conflict of interest. Does this mean he (the director) cuts down the trees and at the same time is monitoring the felling?” they asked.
Another conflict of interest was the case where the Forestry Department gave permission to plant oil palm in 82,000 hectares of area inside a forest reserve in Gunung Rara to a company, where the director is also a board member.
“We are also worried that due to this action our palm oil products will not be accepted in the world market because it came from a forest reserve that is against the specification of the Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO),” they said.
Lauding the move by Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem for his hard stand on illegal logging resulting in MACC probing into the state’s timber industry, they hoped MACC would take similar action in Sabah. “This is in view of the critical situation in Sabah. We urge the MACC to investigate the leakage in Sabah’s timber royalty collection,” the MPs said.
“Even though putting an end to corruption in the timber sector is a monumental task because it involves so many interests, it has to be addressed.”