By Lee Ya Yun, The Borneo Post
Sarawak Headhunter's comments in red.
KUCHING: Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) should not be blamed for unscrupulous logging in the upper part of Sungai Tunoh in Kapit.
Dawos is the NREB’s advisor to the state government.
In a press conference held at his office in Menara Pelita here, Penguang explained the reasons he had been keeping quiet after NREB was blamed for unscrupulous logging which caused the flood at Sungai Tunoh Resettlement Scheme on Feb 26 .
“I have been keeping quiet because our conscience is clear. We know exactly what we are doing, and we know fully well that we have done nothing wrong notwithstanding what had been said. And we always believe that truth will prevail,” Penguang said.
“I never like going to the press if I can help it because I always believe in mutual respect and communication through proper venues, and we can solve a lot of things through informal communications. If we go public, it will hurt a lot of people and become public domain,” he said, adding that as a loyal and dedicated civil servant, he wished to maintain his professionalism and respect the leaders, especially the ministers.
What he really wanted to say (and every Sarawakian too) is that it is hard to respect these stupid ministers, especially the main cause of the problem, the Chief Minister himself, Taib Mahmud.
“This incidence, even though hard for me to swallow, is a good lesson for everybody - a lesson where we have to exercise great care before sporadically condemning anybody,” he pointed out.
Penguang was disappointed that NREB had been blamed for almost anything that went wrong - the flood, haze, river pollution, landslide and dead fishes.
Everyone of course realizes that this is all Taib Mahmud's doing, but all of them are scared to say so.
“I was disappointed because I cannot comprehend why the NREB was singled out, and not other agencies,” he said.
NREB has to be singled out to shift the blame from Taib Mahmud.
“I would like to stress here that even though the NREB is the lead environmental agency in Sarawak, it is not God Almighty.”
Neither is Taib Mahmud for the matter, but they all more scared of him than God.
Meanwhile Sarawak Forest Department director Datu Len Taliff Salleh said Thursday that no single party should be blamed for the flood that hit Tunoh in Kapit last month as it was due to a combination of factors.
How can the Forest Department be blamed? They don't control Taib, he controls them.
“Each and everyone contributed in one way or another plus the inclement weather - it is an act of God but we don’t blame God for that,” Len said.
Each and everyone? Why should we share the blame with Taib and his crony logging companies? Of course we can't blame God. This is the result of the wanton acts of human beings overlogging and ignoring laws and regulations with impunity. Who can we blame then? Why doesn't Taib allow the Forest Department to take action or why is the Forest Department scared to take action?
Dawos on March 5 said the NREB should not be held responsible for projects where Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies were not done, and that it is therefore totally unfair to blame the NREB for ‘unscrupulous logging’ in the upper Sungai Tunoh.
Why were EIA studies not done? Is it because they have been "exempted" by the unscrupulous Taib?
“I wish to make it clear that NREB will only enforce, monitor and audit projects listed as prescribed activities in the EIA Order in which EIA studies are undertaken,” Dawos said, clarifying an observation by Land Development Minister Dato Sri Dr James Masing that flood had partially destroyed a longhouse and caused devastating damage to properties at the Sungai Tunoh Re-settlement Scheme on Feb 26 this year.
Masing had insisted that NREB fly over to the area because it is duty-bound to check the situation and make proper recommendations to the contractor responsible for the damages.
NREB can check out the situation, but still the big question is, can they do anything about it? Make "proper recommendations" against the contractor responsible for the damage? Who is James Masing kidding? In any other country a stop work order would have been immediately issued and heavy fines and other penalties imposed on the contractor and/or logging company. Why is the NREB a toothless, sleeping tiger in Sarawak? We all know the answer!
The Baleh assemblyman said he was disappointed with the contractor and NREB.
He is not disappointed with Taib whom he helps to keep in power?
“Therefore I put the blame on the contractor in the area. They must account for the damage done.
Where will this account end up? In the dustbin of Taib's office? It may not even reach there, more likely it will end up in the dustbin of Len Talif's office and that will be the end of the story. Can James Masing do anything about it other than try to blame the contractor and NREB?
“If NREB had done its job well, the flood would not have been so destructive,” Masing had said, adding that NREB must be more vigilant and responsible.
Correct, correct, correct! It is really instructive how everyone blames everyone else except Taib, the real culprit!
Dawos countered, saying that NREB is not the authority to issue Forest Timber Licence nor the Permit to Enter Coupe (PEC) which allows the logging operators to commence timber harvesting, hence does not have the mandate to ensure that the contractor complied with the Forest Management Plan, guidelines for logging and the terms and conditions of the PEC.
Dawos, you are on dangerous ground here! You are getting too close to the truth. Who else has the authority to issue Forest Timber Licence in Sarawak if not Taib Mahmud himself? How do they get the PEC and who ensures that they comply with Forest Management Plan, etc.? Len Talif, where are you?
“It is also not the responsibility of the NREB to ensure that the timber harvesting is done within the confine of each coupe or licence area,” said the Mambong MP.
Obviously, the NREB cannot be made responsible for anything. Does Dawos mean to say that the NREB has no powers to stop uncontrolled logging? What good is the NREB then, just to give people the impression that Taib's government really cares about the environment and the people?
If any Sarawakian believes that, please forgive Sarawak Headhunter fro coming to the conclusion that Sarawakians deserve Taib. Please prove Sarawak Headhunter wrong!