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By DayakDaily Team
KUCHING, June 29: Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah hopes Sarawak ‘Big Six’ timber concessionaires will do more to assist the government to promote and preserve Sarawak’s rich natural heritage.
“For the Big Six, we know how much they have been making through the years, they must contribute back. No doubt they have contributed a lot during this Covid-19 pandemic. Some of them spent millions giving out PPE (personal protective equipment) such as masks and so on.
“That’s something good, but we want to see more of that because you don’t bring money to your grave. You must contribute back to society,” Abdul Karim told DayakDaily in an exclusive interview at his office here recently.
He reiterated that since these concessionaires have harvested greatly from the forest, they in return must assist the government in reforestation efforts to ensure Sarawak’s rich biodiversity and heritage will remain sustainable.
“Over the years, they have realised that there are a lot of things (contributions) from them, (but) the damage also comes from them.
“So they must have this feeling of paying back: How can I change and pay back to nature? How do I pay back to nature?” added Abdul Karim.
When asked about the challenges faced by his ministry, Abdul Karim said it would require a holistic approach to preserve nature as well as to maximise harvests of natural resources such as timber.
“Gone are the days when we love to dish out timber licences. Now I think if it’s about timber licence and chopping down of trees, I think either they are men on the streets or leaders are not too happy about it. And the way leaders look at it they would want to see the downstream industry (improve).
“We take for example, if it is a single log, last time we just wanted to export the single log. Not (expand on) what we can do with that single log, how much furniture we can do and how much things we can do from the sawdust. So practically, everything can be utilised. So that way it will not lead to wastage. This is to maximise our resources,” he stressed.
He also hoped the private sector and those who have profited immensely out of concessions will continue to contribute to Sarawak’s wellbeing.
“Personally I think they should contribute back to the state but adjusting the kind of business that they are doing.
“Those new businesses that are doing (business) which are not related (to timber) they must have the passionate feeling on how to preserve of our heritage. Heritage here can be jungle, rivers, or culture,” he added. — DayakDaily