Attack on Telang Usan rep over logging issues in Baram uncalled for, says NGO

APS executive director Nigel Raymond

KUCHING, March 17: The attack on Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau by Save Rivers recently over logging issues in Baram is uncalled for and may potentially jeapordise the standard of living of indigenous communities there, says non-governmental organisation Advokasi Pribumi Sarawak (APS).

APS executive director Nigel Raymond argued that the criticism levelled on Dennis has been unfair when the logging industry has in fact brought development to the indigenous communities, especially in improving their standard of living significantly.

“APS is deeply concerned about the comments made to discredit the Telang Usan assemblyman as well as to make light of the initiatives carried out by the licensed logging companies in our area to repair key infrastructures.

“I have lived in this community all my life and I have personally witnessed the development and progress throughout the years because the logging industry has provided our people with jobs and was instrumental in building key infrastructure like roads, bridges and other amenities. The logging industry also provided free transport for children during our school breaks.

“Our standard of living has improved significantly, and I can assure you that a good number of my neighbours including myself are fully supportive of the industry.

“Does Save Rivers expect indigenous communities like ours to return to a nomadic lifestyle or live hand-to-mouth by banning the logging business completely?” he asked in a statement today.

APS, a non-governmental organisation set up to champion sustainable forest management and safeguard the interest of native communities in Sarawak, issued the statement following an article published on the Save Rivers’ website that claims widespread opposition to logging in the Ulu Baram area and called into question Dennis’ comments on the assistance provided by logging companies to build roads and other infrastructure in the area.

Nigel emphasised that the government and the private sector must collaborate to tap the region’s natural resources effectively.

“Expecting the Sarawak government to go at it alone, funding and overseeing all road works and development projects, is inefficient and may become a huge burden on public expenses.

“So why can’t the private sector including logging companies play a role in uplifting the lives of the local and indigenous communities?” he asked.

He said that APS is fully confident that most members of the communities in and around the Baram area is fully supportive and appreciative of the contribution made by licensed logging companies, as mentioned by Dennis.

APS also agreed with Dennis that those who participated in the blockade at Ba Abang village of Ulu Baram consisted of a small group of people.

“We are very well aware that this small group of people are not from within our community, generally outsiders, and have been used by certain quarters to cause political and socio-economic instability,” he claimed. — DayakDaily