Isnin, 24 Jun 2013

Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

‘Sirul had no control of C4 explosives’

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 01:19 AM PDT

"There were no C4 explosives kept in the store of the Special Action Unit. They (Sirul and another accused) were not trained to handle explosives and bombs. Bombs are strictly controlled in a police store," he said.

(Bernama) - The High Court judge erred in convicting two former Special Action Unit (UTK) personnel for the murder of Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu, the Court of Appeal here heard today.

Lawyer Hazman Ahmad said his client Azilah Hadri, 34, did not have possession and control of the C4 explosives allegedly used in the woman's murder.

"There were no C4 explosives kept in the store of the Special Action Unit. They (Sirul and another accused) were not trained to handle explosives and bombs. Bombs are strictly controlled in a police store," he said.

He said Azilah's log record showed that he was only issued a Glock pistol and magazines.

Evidence during the trial disclosed that Altantuya was shot and her body blown-up with explosives at a jungle clearing on the night of Oct 19, 2006.

Hazman submitted that there were inconsistencies in the prosecution witnesses' evidence with regard to the alleged information given by Azilah which led to the discovery of the crime scene.

He said Azilah had never disclosed the location of Puncak Alam where Altantuya was shot and blown up, adding that there was a miscarriage of justice against Azilah as police had prior knowledge of the location.

"There were serious contradictions in the evidence of prosecution witnesses of what Azilah had said," said Hazman, who was submitting in the appeal of Azilah and Sirul Azhar Umar, 39, against a High Court's decision in 2009 to convict and sentence them to death for killing Altantuya, 28.

They committed the offence at Mukim Bukit Raja in Klang near here between 10pm on Oct 19, 2006 and 1am on Oct 20, 2006.

Former political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, 50, who was charged with abetting them, was acquitted by the High Court on Oct 31, 2008 without defence being called after the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against him.

Rigorous cross-examined

Hazman said the trial judge erred in law and facts in admitting as evidence information given by Azilah under Section 27 of the Evidence Act and urged the Court of Appeal to exclude the information.

Hazman said Azilah gave sworn evidence and was rigorously cross-examined by the prosecution but the judge dismissed his defence of alibi as bare denial.

Meanwhile, Sirul Azhar's counsel Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin said the failure by the prosecution to call Deputy Supt Musa Safri to testify in the trial constituted a mistrial.

He said only Musa could verify the veracity of the affidavit filed by Abdul Razak which was accepted by the High Court, which subsequently acquitted him (Abdul Razak).

"There are parts of the affidavit which are prejudicial to the accused, he said, adding that the defence had been denied the only way to challenge the affidavit.

He added that the prosecution did not appeal against Abdul Razak's acquittal.

Kamarul Hisham said Abdul Razak's phone records showed more than 30 text messages that the political analyst sent to Musa between Oct 7 and 19, 2006, of which 12 were recorded on Oct 19, 2006, the night Altantuya was murdered.

He also submitted before the three-member panel led by Justice Mohamed Apandi Ali that the judgment of Shah Alam High Court judge Mohd Zaki Md Yassin did not state any motive for the murder.

The other two judges were Linton Albert and Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat.

Adverse publicity

Kamarul Hisham also argued that Sirul Azhar were exposed to "adverse publicity" during the trial through three statutory declarations and also a copy of a cautioned statement believed to be Sirul Azhar's which was uploaded in internet websites, occassioning a mistrial.

However, Justice Apandi retorted, asking where in the judgment did the judge indicate that he was influenced.

He said it was not possible for judges in general to be influenced by  media reports as they would not have time to visit websites in view of their workload.

"If this argument is allowed, then all criminal trials, would be a mistrial," said Justice Apandi, adding that judges acted on facts and evidence adduced in the trial.

The prosecution led by Solicitor-General II Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah will submit tomorrow.


Lahad Datu: Police detective pleads not guilty to withholding information on terrorist activities

Posted: 24 Jun 2013 12:52 AM PDT

(The Star) - KOTA KINABALU: A special branch police detective pleaded not guilty to an amended charge of withholding information on terrorist activities as a protected witness began testifying against him from a closed room in court.

Kpl Hassan Ali Basari, 55, whose trial began Monday afternoon before High Court Judge Ravintharan Paramaguru, made the plea after the prosecution team led by Deputy Public Prosecutor Datuk Nordin Hassan amended the dates of the offences for the charge under Section 130M of the Penal Code.

He was charged for withholding information on the Sulu terrorist incursion and allegedly committed the offence at the office at the Lahad Datu special branch on the district police headquarters between January and March 3, 2013.

He faces up to seven years imprisonment or fine or both if found guilty.

(When Hassan was first charged under Section 130M of the Penal Code on March 29 at the Magistrates Court in Lahad Datu, the date of offences committed was between Feb 9 and March 3, 2013).

Nordin had told the court that the prosecution would present oral and documentary evidence to show that the accused, as a special branch officer, had information that a terrorist act would be committed relating to the intrusion by the Sulu gunmen into Kg Tanduo, Lahad Datu.

"The prosecution will also show evidence that the accused had intentionally omitted from informing and reporting the information relating to the terrorist act to any of his superior officers in the special branch which he was legally bound to do so," he said.

Nordin said that the prosecution would also present evidence to show that the accused had a good relationship with the Sulu sultanate and the accused had been on several occasions been in contact with Datu Agbimuddin Kiram, the leader of the Royal Sulu force.

The trial started with first witness, who was inside a closed room adjacent to the courtroom, giving his testimony through specially fitted microphone and only the court judge and the court's transcriber were able to listen through a earphone.

The prosecution and Hassan's four-member defence team led by Ram Singh obtained the witness' answers through a computer screen before proceeding with further questioning at the courthouse which was under high level of security.

The first witness, who was identified as Protected Witness 1, said that he had informed Kpl Hassan about the possible intrusion sometime in January as he had heard that some 1,500 people of self proclaimed Sulu Sultan Ismail Kiram were planning to enter Sabah to claim their ancestral land.

The witness said that he heard about the impending intrusion when he overheard a group of people wearing orange stripped "Royal Sulu Force" overalls speaking about the plans when he was selling fish at Bongao in Philippines.

The witness said that on his return to Lahad Datu he searched for special branch officers Insp Yusri or Insp Syazwan but since both were not available, he met with Kpl Hassan at an ice cream shop in Lahad Datu to pass on the information.

"I told him that they were four tempel (boats) that will enter Lahad Datu," he said adding that don't take this information lightly and inform your senior officers about the planned Sulu intrusion.

In cross examining, Singh asked if the information he provided to Hassan was about illegal immigrants coming into the state and he did not tell Hassan about the Sulu army, the witness said that he gave the detail of the Sulu force.

When Singh asked the witness whether he had provided the "so called" information to Insp Yusri and Insp Syazwan and Kpl Hassan was being made a "scapegoat," the witness replied; " itu terpulang kepada kamu (that it is up to you)."

Nordin, who had objected to the questioning, asked the witness if he had provided the information to Insp Yusri or Insp Syazwan to which the witness replied that "Yusri was not around at that time and asked him to report to Kpl Hassan."

Earlier yesterday morning, Justice Paramaguru allowed Kpl Hassan to seek medical attention after he complained of "chest discomfort" before the trial resumed at 2pm.

At the Kota Kinabalu High Court, police maintained high level of security including carrying out body scans on all people entering the court premises and also before entering the courtroom.

Hassan is among 31 people charged in court for various offences related to the Feb 12 Sulu intrusion at Kg Tanduo in Lahad Datu.


‘Aunty Bersih’ among the 32 arrested for demonstrating outside Parliament House this morning

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 05:41 PM PDT

(ABN News) - Aunty Bersih Annie Ooi is believed to be one of the 32 people, mostly students, who were arrested by police for holding a demonstration outside Parliament House this morning.

Most of the others were students who had camped for two days at Padang Merbok after the Black 505 rally was held on Saturday. It is believed that Annie Ooi joined the group of protesters outside Parliament House this morning.

It is understood that some of those detained by police had surrendered to the authorities including student activist Adam Adli and Chegu Bard.

Of the 32 detained, 31 have been sent to the Jinjang police station while one is still at the Dang Wangi police station.


Yazid and Hilmi claim trial for involvement in terrorist activities

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 05:37 PM PDT

(The Star) - Former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee Yazid Sufaat and cafetaria worker Muhammad Hilmi Hasim claimed trial in a High Court here for involvement in terrorist activities.

The duo's case was mentioned in the High Court Monday before Justice Kamardin Hashim after it was transferred from Ampang Magistrate's Court on June 7.

Justice Kamardin later granted counsel New Sin Yew who acted for Yazid and Muhammad Hilmi, application for a stay pending appeal for the first charge at the Federal Court.

New said they had filed notice of appeal on June 21 and the court had yet to fix the hearing date.

The court later set Sept 17 for mention.

On May 27, Yazid, 49, and Muhammad Hilmi, 33, were charged in Ampang Magistrate's Court here with being members of a terrorist group Tanzim Al-Qaeda Malaysia.

The alleged offences, under Section 130K(a) of the Penal Code which provides for life imprisonment and a fine on conviction, occurred at a house in Taman Bukit Ampang on Aug 1, 2012 and Feb 7, 2013.

No plea was recorded and no bail was offered, as it was a non-bailable offence.

On May 20, Justice Kamardin acquitted and discharged both of them as there was a merit in the submission by the applicants in relation to the charge and usage of the act (Sosma) that was enacted under Article 149 of the federal Constitution

He said the charge was related to terrorism that occurred in Syria and, therefore, it was not under the scope of Article 149.

On June 18, the Court of Appeal ordered the terrorism case of Yazid and Muhammad Hilmi to be heard before a new High Court judge.

The panel led by Justice Abu Samah Nordin allowed the prosecution's appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision to acquit and discharge Yazid and Muhammad Hilmi of charges of promoting acts of terrorism in strife-torn Syria.

Justice Abu Samah ruled that the learned judge had erred in his interpretation of the charges and it did not refer to acts of terrorism outside the country.

The panel, which also included Justices Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Azhar Mohamed, remitted the case back to the Kuala Lumpur High Court and fixed Monday for next mention.

The court of appeal also set Aug 5 for the case mention of religious teacher Halimah Hussein, charged with abetting Yazid in the same case.


Anwar warns of Umno voices in the ranks

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 02:42 PM PDT

(TMI) - Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today went for the jugular when he warned elements within Pakatan Rakyat against giving in to political fatigue and losing steam in the fight against electoral fraud.

The Opposition Leader did not mince his words and called those with wavering spirit, the voices of Umno in the coalition of PKR, PAS and DAP.

"There are some among us who are talking about 'moving forward'. I would like to remind them that if they were to remain in Pakatan, moving forward without understanding the realities of the past is impossible.

"The people who are only talking about 'moving forward' is the same as what Husam said, they are the voices of Umno in Pakatan and we must have courage to reject and deflect this, " Malaysiakini quoted him as saying.

The Opposition leader was speaking at the Pakatan Rakyat's convention in Kuala Lumpur.

His comments came in the wake of the Black 5O5 gathering yesterday where an estimated 50,000 people turned out, smaller than the expected crowd. This has led the mainstream media to call the rally a failure and for pundits to say that political fatigue was taking its tool on the Opposition's drive for electoral reform.

But Anwar told Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives not to lose sight of the big picture.



26 arrested outside Parliament

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 02:02 PM PDT

They were detained outside the Parliament building for trying to breach a police cordon 

(FMT) - Some 26 people have been arrested outside Parliament an hour ago after they tried to breach a police cordon stopping them from entering the building.

The group, which had camped at Padang Merbok since Saturday's Black 505 rally, marched to the Parliament building which is about 1km from the field.

They had their camps dismantled by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall at about 4.30am this morning.

They had camped in Padang Merbok demanding that the resignation of the Election Commission top officials, claiming that the Commission had failed to conduct a fair and free general election.

They marched from Padang Merbok and demanded entry into Parliament grounds which was refused by the police.

They then lied-down on the road leading towards the Parliament building to show their protest. The police numbering about 300 personal had set up a human barricade some 800 metres from parliament gates.

Among those detained are student activists Adam Adli Abdul Halim and Mohd Safwan Anang. The 26 include eight protesters who surrendered themselves.



Protesters at Parliament attempt to crash police barrier (Update 2)

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 01:32 PM PDT

(The Star) - Activists protesting in front of Parliament Monday morning have tried to breach the barrier formed by police personnel, resulting in scuffles. Some of the protesters have been arrested.

They have been told to disperse immediately and Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel were seen preparing to use tear gas.

Police personnel have refrained from any violence, apart from pushing those trying to break the barrier to the ground.

Police maintaining a close watch at Parliament as protesters gather. Police maintaining a close watch at Parliament as protesters gather.

Earlier, a small group gathered in front of Parliament, ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of MPs on Monday.

Police personnel stationed at the entrance to the House to monitor the situation asked the group to disperse.

However, the organisers told protesters to sit on the sidewalk, as they had a memo to hand to the Prime Minister, on the issue of the Election Commission being under Parliament.

Those in the group carried banners, calling for the Election Commission (EC) panels to resign and over issues concerning deaths in police custody.

Lawmakers from both sides were seen entering the House.

Activists who had camped out since Saturday at Padang Merbuk nearby, joined the group in front of Parliament at around 8.30am.


Pandikar Amin re-elected as Speaker, after two names proposed

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 01:28 PM PDT

(The Star) - Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia has been re-elected as the Dewan Rakyat Speaker with 133 votes, after two names were submitted for the post on Monday.

Former federal court judge Datuk Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, the Opposition's choice, garnered 89 votes.

Pandikar Amin was then robed and took his oath of office.

He promised to be a fair Speaker to all and urged all MPs to be dedicated and work towards the direction of making the country a success.

Pandikar Amin also mooted that the Opposition form a shadow cabinet to facilitate better debate.

Earlier, Dewan Rakyat secretary Datuk Roosme Hamzah announced that two names were submitted for the Speaker's post, ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of MPs.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak proposed Pandikar Amin, while PKR's Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim proposed Abdul Kadir as the Opposition's choice.

Roosme said a secret ballot would take place among the MPs to choose the speaker according to Standing Order 4 (3).

Opposition MPs like Hanipa Maidin (PAS-Sepang) and Gobind Singh (DAP-Puchong) raised an objection over the selection process of the secret ballot, saying the voting papers should not be signed by MPs, otherwise it would not be a secret ballot.

Roosme had earlier said that the MPs had to sign their name on the voting paper.

MPs from both sides of the fence then exchanged jibes. Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) said "What's wrong with you writing your name?"

Tian Chua (PKR-Batu) asked whether PM was not confident of Barisan backbenchers.


Protesters gather in front of Parliament, cops ask group to disperse (Update 1)

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 12:07 PM PDT 

(The Star) - A small group has gathered in front Parliament, ahead of the swearing-in ceremony of MPs on Monday.

Police personnel stationed at the entrance to the House to monitor the situation have asked the group to disperse.

However, the organisers have told protesters to sit on the sidewalk. They have a memo to hand to the Prime Minister, on the issue of the Election Commission being under Parliament.

Police maintaining a close watch at Parliament as protesters gather.Police maintaining a close watch at Parliament as protesters gather.

Those in the group carried banners, calling for the Election Commission (EC) panels to resign and over issues concerning deaths in police custody.

Lawmakers from both sides were seen entering the House.

Meanwhile, activists who had camped out since Saturday at Padang Merbuk nearby, have joined the group in front of Parliament. 

According to The Malaysian Insider: Led by Batu MP Tian Chua, the group are demanding for the resignation of the Election Commission commissioners. 

The group, carrying banners and placards also urged Tian Chua to boycott the swearing in ceremony as a sign of protest against election fraud. 


Roadshows not to hit out at MCA leaders, Liow told

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 12:04 PM PDT 

(The Star) - Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has advised his deputy Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai not to use the party's nationwide roadshows as an avenue to hit out at other leaders.

"He should understand that he has a responsibility to carry out. This is not to be used as a platform to attack each other," he said, referring to MCA's roadshows from now till July 13 to seek grassroots' feedback on how to move the party forward after its poor showing at the general election.

The party president said he had no intention to engage in a media war with fellow MCA leaders, following a public spat with Liow.

It was the hope of its members that leaders would work together to strengthen MCA, Dr Chua added.

"We need to convince our members and continue our own transformation programmes in line with the current needs," he told reporters after launching Koperasi Jayadiri Malaysia Bhd's (Kojadi) 31st annual general meeting.

Liow had criticised Dr Chua on Thursday for censuring vice-president Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai in the media after Lim said the party president had made the wrong decision in the rejection of government posts.

Dr Chua said he had appointed Liow and secretary-general Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha to lead two committees which would oversee the upcoming party elections and get nationwide feedback from the grassroots.

He stressed on the importance of preserving democracy in the polls, adding that he did not want to see any controversy such as what had happened in DAP.

On the issue of MCA members who had taken up government posts, he said the people should understand the difference between posts recommended by the party and the Government.

He pointed out that in the case of Johor executive councillor Datuk Tee Siew Kiong and vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, their posts were not recommended by the party.

"If they accept (the posts) and people are not happy, then they can write in and complain to the disciplinary board. The party is very transparent," he said.

Dr Ng was appointed Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board chairman at the behest of Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz

Smoking gun in Malaysian hands

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 11:59 AM PDT 

Malaysian-owned companies source of forest fires

(Jakarta Post) - Plantation companies have often ordered local people to burn forest or peatland near their concessions, hoping that the fire will spread onto their land. "Once the fire takes hold of their concessions, the companies shift the blame onto the local residents as if the fire had accidentally and spread to their land.

Preliminary investigations have singled out eight plantation companies owned by Malaysian investors as the source of forest fires in Riau that have caused Southeast Asia's worst ever air pollution crisis.

The fires have started a diplomatic war of words between Indonesia, as the source of the problem, and Singapore and Malaysia, as the countries receiving the brunt of the smog. 

Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya suggested on Saturday that the eight palm-oil companies were using illegal slash-and-burn methods as the cheapest way to clear land for cultivation. 

"The ministry is still gathering more evidence and verification in the field. The fires are, for sure, on their concessions," said Balthasar, in Riau's capital Pekanbaru. 

"I will immediately meet my Malaysian counterpart to inform him of the findings and seek ways to resolve the current issue and stop recurrence in the future," he said. The allegations will be followed up by Riau Police.

The companies in question are PT Langgam Inti Hibrida, PT Bumi Reksa Nusa Sejati, PT Tunggal Mitra Plantation, PT Udaya Loh Denawi, PT Adei Plantation, PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa, PT Multi Gambut Industri, and PT Mustika Agro Lestari. 

Tunggal Mitra is a unit of Minamas Plantation, subsidiary of Malaysia-based Sime Darby Plantations, while Adei Plantation is owned by Kepong Berhard. The Jakarta Post's emails for clarification to these companies have gone unanswered.

The Environment Ministry's deputy for environmental degradation and climate change, Arief Yuwono, said that under the environment law, the penalties for causing illegal forest fires are a maximum of 10 years in prison and fines of up to 5 billion rupiah (US$504,000).

Six other companies are also involved, but Balthasar refused to name them.

Read more at: 


Haze: Impact on economy minimal, say experts

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 11:56 AM PDT 

(The Star) - The economy could suffer due to the haze currently polluting some parts of the country, says an economist.

The problem, however, would not be serious enough to affect the country's gross domestic product (GDP), said RAM Holdings Group chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng.

He said tourism, leisure and restaurant businesses stood to lose the most at this point.

"Malaysians only need to worry if the haze grows to hazardous levels over the next few weeks or months," he said.

Dr Yeah said the losses in the current haze situation could be in the millions of ringgit but "not hundreds of millions".

He also pointed out that reduced sunshine could have negative effects on plantations, while critical haze levels could delay construction projects.

"The concern now is that if no immediate action is taken, the situation will get worse," he added.

Ambank Group chief economist Anthony Dass said that although work productivity and consumer spending would take a hit due to the haze, the economic impact was "minimal and negligible".

He added that the haze situation could be considered tolerable now as many people could still be seen going about their daily activities.

"However, if the haze worsens and the Government takes drastic precautionary measures like asking people not to go outdoors, we may see a more serious impact to our daily life," he added.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) deputypresident John Tan said a prolonged haze would impact in-bound tourism.

"If the haze worsens, foreign tourists will return to spread word about the situation here and this will affect our tourism industry," he added.

On the other hand, he believes more Malaysians would travel overseas to escape the haze. 

Prolonged haze 'may hit Singapore's competitiveness'

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 11:54 AM PDT 

(The Straits Times) - THE haze would "almost certainly" have an impact on Singapore's economy, especially on the tourism industry here, Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

One small but clear example of this already happening is a nuclear energy forum that was to be held on Tuesday, but has since been cancelled because of the haze, he said.


This after three prominent American speakers, all in their 80s, decided that it was better to cancel the trip.

The three were former Senator Sam Nunn, former Defence Secretary William Perry, and former Secretary of State George Shultz.


"There would be an impact to the image of Singapore. Because they think of Singapore now, during this period, many people will associate it with the haze. One small illustration is this cancellation," said Mr Shanmugam, at the sidelines of a community event yesterday.


He added that the tourism industry is likely to be hit and that would have other secondary effects on the rest of the economy.


Other business leaders and analysts agreed, noting that a prolonged period of haze could put Singapore's reputation as a leading international centre for business and talent at risk.


The Singapore Business Federation's chief operating officer, Mr Victor Tay, said that one of Singapore's key competitive strengths has always been the clean environment but this has come under threat with the haze.


" Companies move their regional headquarters here because their senior managers like the place. This prolonged haze exposure is certainly putting the country's reputation at risk," said Mr Tay.

Read more at: 

Election Court judges to preside over polls petitions next week

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 11:51 AM PDT 

(The Star) - Petitions could be settled within a year if everything goes smoothly.

The case management of about 80 petitions filed over the general election results will begin next week.

Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria said 58 election petitions had been filed in the peninsula and about 20 in Sabah and Sarawak.

He said 13 High Court judges had been appointed as Election Court judges and each would preside over five cases to ensure no delays.

"During case management, parties will be called to determine the number of witnesses and dates that the lawyers are available as there should be no postponement or we will not be able to meet the time frame," he said after he opened a seminar for Justices of Peace.

It was reported that the Chief Justice had given the assurance that the petitions could be settled within a year if everything goes smoothly.

He had said that judges selected to preside over the cases had been advised to dispose of the cases within six months or it would not go in line with the law, resulting in late decisions as there was still the appeal process which would take another six months.

The deadline to file an election petition ended on June 12.

In his speech, Arifin asked that Justices of Peace take on new approaches in reaching out to the public and widen their role to also educate the society on the rule of law, respect and loyalty to the king and country aside from the commendable social and welfare work.

"It is important that our multi-racial society, particularly the younger generation, have a good understanding on the rule of law as this will help ensure the safety and stability of the country.

"It is also important for them to know the Federal Constitution to better appreciate it and this is where Justices of Peace can play their part," he added. 

Cultivating Sarawak’s timber industry

Posted: 23 Jun 2013 11:45 AM PDT 


(The Borneo Post) - There is no doubt the timber industry is undergoing a transformation process whereby it is expanding into different types of timber rather than relying only on indigenous species. 

Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud who highlighted this, noted implementation of planted forests will enable timber enterprises to continue thriving despite the state's deficit in raw materials.

For decades, the timber industry has played a pivotal role in the development and economic growth of Sarawak.

Despite growing contributions and importance of other sectors such as oil and gas, construction and various industries, timber remains a key node to the state's socio-economic growth.


This was affirmed by Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan who underscored Sarawak's timber industry contribution of about RM7.5 billion (seven per cent) in export earnings in 2012 – an increase of five per cent over the previous year.


"At the national level, Sarawak's timber sector accounted for 36 per cent of Malaysia's total timber export earnings of RM20 billion in 2012.


"The demand for Sarawak timber has been well accepted internationally, having also successfully gained access to many emerging markets in the Middle East, Asia and Africa amidst stiff competition in the global market.


"Today, the industry is capable of producing diversified timber products mainly to cater for the export market, enabling Sarawak to become the biggest producer of tropical plywood in the region," he said.


Industry update


The Sarawak Timber Association (STA) revealed that as at 2012, the state's timber trade had received a big boost, totalling RM7,455 million – the highest since 2010. 

Plywood timber products constituted the largest amount of exports with 52.6 per cent of the overall total logs and timber exports, followed by logs (24.15 per cent) and sawn timber (10.53 per cent).


STA also reported that Sarawak's logs and timber products were exported mainly to Japan which recorded 38.27 per cent of the total export, followed by India and Asia (excluding China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan) which imported 15.99 and 10.69 per cent of Sarawak's logs and timber, respectively.


According to STA, overall logs production totalled 9,458,563 cubic metres in 2012 – a decrease from 9,610,434 cubic metres in 2011.


Meanwhile, the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC), in its annual timber statistics report, noted that the timber industry is seeing a positive forward trend.


It explained that the industry had seen an increase in the overall volumes of sawn timber, plywood, veneers, mouldings, dowels, fiberboards, particle boards as well as woodchips.


However, it pointed out that there were decreases in the value of logs (two per cent), laminated board-floorings (2.5 per cent) and blockboards (27 per cent).


"Total export values of plywood, logs and sawn timber were at RM4 billion (54 per cent), RM1.8 billion (24 per cent) and RM758 million (11 per cent) respectively.


"This contributed 88 per cent to the total export value of logs and timber products to the state in 2012."


However, despite its success, mirrored by the increase in total export earnings, the industry will not be able to sustain itself if it relies solely on slow-growing, depleting traditional, natural timber forests.


As such, the state government has initiated several measures to ensure sustainability of Sarawak's forestry, including a commercial scale programme for fast-growing planted forests.


Sustaining timber industry


There is no doubt the timber industry is undergoing a transformation process whereby it is expanding into different types of timber rather than relying only on indigenous species.


Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, Sarawak's Chief Minister

Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud who highlighted this, noted implementation of planted forests will enable timber enterprises to continue thriving despite the state's deficit in raw materials.


"We have embarked on a planted forest programme which ought to supplement the country's timber supply. In fact, it ought to double the supply of raw materials for the industry," he said.


From the planted forests, fast-growing timber species are expected to be harvested with the potential to yield five times as much timber as natural forest-traditional timber forest.


Oscar Johin Ngayop, assistant director of Planted Forest in the Forest Department of Sarawak, in his presentation on 'Sustaining the future supply of raw material for the development of the timber downstream processing industry in Sarawak', said uptrend on export earnings of timber and wood-based products was not due to increase in supply from natural forests but production and export of value-added end-products.


"In 1991, Sarawak showed the highest log production at 19 million cubic metres but a decline trend ensued thereafter.


"The downstream processing industry has to diversify and find a new source of raw materials as an alternative to supplement the deficit in timber supply from the natural forests," he explained.


He pointed out that the government had taken the initiative to embark on commercial-scale forest plantations.

According to Oscar, there are now 43 licensed planted forests throughout the state with a gross area of 2.8 million hectares, out of which only one million hectares are considered as plantable areas.


"The establishment of planted forests is a long-term strategy towards providing a new source of wood materials for the wood-based industries in Sarawak.


"It also acts as a leverage to cope with the increasing demand of raw materials as the industries cannot depend solely on timber from the natural forests," he stressed in his presentation at an International Timber Conference.

"The planted forests will also help relieve harvesting pressures on the natural forests and, at the same time, increase the state's forest cover to reduce the greenhouse effect," he pointed out.


Oscar noted that the planted forests will also help rehabilitate and ameliorate degraded soil areas, caused by abandoned or shifting cultivation.


He said among the main objectives of the planted forests was the production of 15 million cubic metres of timber annually from one million hectares of forest plantation, adding that the planted forests could also cater to the needs of local processing industries and contribute to the socio-economic development of Sarawak.


However, he noted that the planted forests were not without issues and challenges as the development of forest plantations involved huge investments, compounded by the long gestation period.


To tackle this issue, he stressed assistance in the form of incentives was critical and had to be made available.

He observed that the issue of multiple land use was still occurring and had to be addressed to avoid misunderstanding and ensure project implementation did not lag behind.


Research and development as well as collaboration between licensed planted forest holders and the related agencies had to be enhanced to resolve the issue of shortage of high quality planting materials, he added.


As manpower shortage is another issue facing the planted forest industry, Oscar urged the government to help mitigate the situation. Presently, most of the industry's manpower is sourced from foreign countries.


He cautioned that Sarawak's topography could also hinder the progress as well as reduce the areas of planted forests.


"Moreover, in some cases, the existing timber licences can affect the rate of planting progress in licensed planted forest areas, especially when the owner of the timber licence is not the holder of the licence for planted forests."


However, he said, the estimated production of 15 million cubic metres of timber annually was possible with the establishment of one million hectares of planted forests, adding that to achieve this target by 2020, the industry had commit to planting about 90,000 hectares per year.


Meanwhile, Oscar disclosed relevant laws had been implemented to provide a legal framework for establishing, regulating and monitoring the development of planted forests in Sarawak.


"In 1996, the Forest Ordinance was amended under Section 65B for the establishment of planted forests in Sarawak. Under this section, The Forests (Planted Forests) Rules 1997 were enacted under Section 95 (1) (w) and (x) of the Forests Ordinance."


He said implementation of these laws was ensure the capacity of planted forests to sustain the timber industry. 

Regulations to sustain future timber outlook


A major stumbling block within the industry remains the lack of regulations.


Without a legal framework to sustain timber forests and combat illegal logging, Sarawak – as well as Malaysia – could face various social, environmental and economic problems.


Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) chairman Datuk Dr Freezailah Che Yom said Malaysia was taking steps to develop the timber legality assurance system to ensure the legality of logs harvested from state's land forests as well as that of uncertified permanent reserved forests, hence strengthening the country's sustainable forests management.


"Malaysia is supportive of the European Union's (EU) initiative to implement the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan to tackle illegal logging through Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) and we are currently negotiating with the EU to conclude the FLEGT to ensure all our exported timber products are legal.


"Under the VPAs, Malaysia agrees to implement a Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) to verify that timber products for shipment to EU are legally produced."


He pointed out that TLAS was based on the definition of legality – which is "timber harvested by a licensee from approved areas and timber products exported in accordance with the laws,regulations and procedures pertaining to forestry, timber industry and trade of Malaysia."


TLAS development is also based on existing laws and regulations governing forest harvesting, mill processing and trade of timber and the current licensing system on these activities.


According to Dr Freezailah, TLAS comprises six agreed principles and its associated criteria which are formatted into 24 tables to facilitate compliance auditing by third party monitor.


The planning for TLAS implementation will be phased from the planted forests in peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and eventually Sarawak.


"Under the VPA, once the TLAS is fully operational, all timber products exported to the EU will be accompanied by a FLEGT Licence," he revealed.


This could potentially smoothen international timber trade between Malaysia and European countries as well as create a generic legal system to combat illegal logging, hence sustaining the overall timber industry.


Dr Freezailah said the establishmemt of FLEGT VPA was now in its final stages.


"Pending the conclusion and the signing of VPA, Malaysia had decided to implement the TLAS as MYTLAS, beginning February 1, 2013, purely as its own initiative to meet EU Timber Regulation of Due Diligence for peninsular Malaysia."


Additionally, to ensure MYTLAS sustainabilty, a Compliance Audit was conducted in March 2013 by an independent third party auditor (SIRIM QAS).


Dr Freezailah said the audit was based on a set of established Checklist and Guidelines developed by another independent consultant.


The outcome of the audit demonstrated a high level of compliance with the criteria in the 24 tables of the TLAS, he added.


However, he noted there were some TLAS criteria/tables which were rated as partial compliances.

Such anomalies, he said, would be discussed by the Implementing Agency Coordination Committee and remedies would be made.


Utilising the planted forest The Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) has identified several ways to utilise fast-growing species of timber in planted forests.


Dr Mohd Nor Mohd Yusoff, deputy director general of FRIM noted that wood are greatly used in countless of things which include building contruction, flooring, interior finishing and other uses.


In Malaysia, the wood-based sector is seen as thriving on the back of its export values which is reported to have more than RM20 billion, he pointed out.

Inspite of that, Dr Mohd Nor said, there is a shortage in wood supply driven by competition from other types of downstream products and increasing demands of the wood products.


He pointed out that FRIM had determined several fast growing timber species, several of which are suitable to be planted in Sarawak's rich tropical forest.

Several species which FRIM had named are Acacia mangium (including Acacia hybrid), Tectona grandis, Khaya ivorensis, Khaya senegalensis, Rubberwood (5 clones), Azadirachta excelsa, Paraserianthesfalcataria, Neolamarckia cadamba and Octomeles sumatrana.


Dr Mohd Nor noted that Octomeles sumatrana and Eucalyptus are fast-growing timber ideal for Sarawak and Sabah planters. He also highlighted that the Acacia mangium has been identied as the most favourable forest species for its fast growth feature.


According to Sarawak Planted Forest Sdn Bhd, Acacia mangium's growth rate and yield in seven years is 26 cubic metre per hectare, per year. Also, in seven years, the Acacia mangium has a total standing volume of 177.40 cubic metre, per hectare.


Other than sustainable fast growing timber species, Dr Mohd Nor encouraged wood-based industries to look for other alternate raw resources such as agricultural plantations (for example; oil palm biomass, bamboo and rattan).


"High-valued products from more efficient and ecofriendlier processing could lead to industry competitiveness," he pointed out.


Looking ahead, on the prospects of the timber industry, STIDC said in its annual report, demand for timber and timber products in 2013 is forecast to be as much as it was in 2012.


It noted, "Plywood, logs, sawntimber and veneer are still the main export commodities and made up 92 per cent of the total export volume in 2012."


The corporation further added, Sarawak's timber and timber products are still depending on the demand from traditional markets such as India as importer of logs, Japan (plywood), Thailand (sawntimber) and Taiwan (veneer).


"In addition, Middle East countries such as Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates (UAE) will certainly drive demand in 2013 for timber product in Sarawak, significantly."


STIDC said despite the global challenges, there are still positive factors in favour of the industry, now whereby demand is expected to pick up steadily by early next year.


0 ulasan:

Catat Ulasan


Malaysia Today Online

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved