CM wants timber companies to pursue ‘aggressive’ afforestation efforts

Abang Johari gives his views on how Sarawak will move forward post-Covid-19. Screenshot used with permission.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 9: The Sarawak government wants the timber industry to look into aggressive afforestation with serious and consistent efforts to enrich the forests in the state which have been worked out.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised that apart from digitalisation, environmental sustainability formed one of the main prongs as Sarawak restrategises in developing its economic, social and governance sectors post-Covid-19.

“We expect people involved in the timber industry to help with replanting trees but there are certain weaknesses there as some are willing to plant while some are not.

“Sustainability of the environment is so important not only for our healthy ecosystem but to conserve our natural resources which could become another source of renewable energy,” he highlighted during the “Post-Covid-19: Sarawak The New Normal” webinar organised by Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) today.

Noting that there were not enough serious efforts on part of the private sector in afforestation as the outcome was apparently not very successful, Abang Johari said there is thus a need to relook at the policy.

“I have a new idea which I will discuss with experts about how to accelerate the production of tree-based raw materials which can become a source of renewable energy like wood charcoal.

“But I have in fact requested the timber industry to look into aggressive afforestation in Sarawak so let’s leave it to them to deliberate and come up with solutions and best methods first,” he added.

Abang Johari pointed out that the government will have to relook at its 12th Malaysia Plan and invest in this asset which is important for the future of Sarawak as the world is looking for clean renewable energy.

“Sarawak is experimenting on hydrogen energy and the hydrogen economy is fast expanding now.

“We just started to develop this economy scientifically. So the private sector must be able to analyse the potential so that they can play their part in the changing world which is going after clean energy,” he said.

As the economic landscape has and will change following the Covid-19 pandemic, he urged all sectors, especially the private sector to adapt, readjust and be prepared for the digital game in the new normal and economic era.

The private sector, he continued, must identify market opportunities and potential as these are key areas that will determine their survival.

“One area I’m confident has a bright future in which Sarawak now put focus on is commercial agriculture in providing reasonable and affordable food for the market consumption.

“The market is quite large with the bulk of the population of some three billion (in Southeast Asia) within six hours’ flight. We have the opportunity to produce food and goods demanded by the market. The potential is there as Sarawak has vast land,” he added.

As for the debate over technology creation and advancement displacing jobs in certain sectors, Abang Johari believed it will also create new jobs and employees can be retrained and upskilled for the new jobs. — DayakDaily