“Environmental critics’ silence on massive fires in the West a case of ‘partial favouritism’”

Tropi staff taking a group photo with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (seated, second left), Lulie (seated on Abang Johari's right) and Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas (seated right) at the dinner.

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Nov 22: Sarawak Tropical Peat Research Institute (Tropi) director Dr Lulie Melling opined that massive wildfires in the United States, Europe and Australia had probably released more carbon dioxide and other dangerous volatile emissions compared to oil palm development on peat.

However, critics have been keeping silent about this, causing her to conclude that this clearly shows partial favouritism by some quarters.

She said the initial goal of setting up Tropi was to counter the unjustified onslaught of world criticism of attempts here to convert peatlands into arable land.

“While the West has been blatantly utilising their peatlands unabated, their NGOs have deemed it fit to frustrate the Sarawak government’s effort in the name of the environment,” she said, adding that it was from a tiny laboratory with very few staff that she had to face Goliath, such as NGOs from the West.

“The fight against popular world opinion orchestrated by these Western NGO’s on tropical peat was like a David and Goliath battle, yet as we have seen, just like in that story, Tropi, the little David came out victorious,” said Lulie at Tropi’s 10th anniversary here last night.

She pointed out that there were recurrent issues brought up by the international NGOs, such as carbon emissions, carbon stock and peat fires that Tropi needed to deal with and contain effectively.

“Only via empirical data can we disqualify some of the unfounded allegations that are mostly based on un-evidenced assumptions of the NGOs.

“Therefore, it is very crucial that Tropi continues to generate research data to identify and understand the environmental issues and develop methods to mitigate the unfounded criticism on the environmental impact on our economic activities,” she emphasised.

She said in the last 10 years, Tropi had organised several conferences, workshops and congresses to draw in expertise and give updates on recommended practices based on scientific understanding and research.

“Thus, the industry has been able to increase productivity and most importantly, prevent peat fire in the fields as we have provided practical solutions to such issues and not just untested conceptual ideas,” said Lulie. — DayakDaily