Establishment of Board of Bird’s Nest among key points raised by S’wak industry association

First row, from left: Sarawak Bird’s Nest Traders Association's vice secretary Lee Kia Boon, deputy president Kueh Nai Khiang, Loh, secretary Wong Toh Hiing, vice chief of Publicity and Relationship Dato Wong Joo Hua, and others in a group photo.

KUCHING, May 25: Stakeholders have proposed the establishment of a Board of Bird’s Nest to supervise, regulate, coordinate, enhance, and promote the bird’s nest industry in Sarawak.

According to a press release issued by Sarawak Bird’s Nest Traders Association president Loh Siaw Kuei, the association has put forth a proposal in an effort to reduce difficulties and obstacles in the production and marketing of bird’s nests, along with statements from stakeholders.

This is in reference to a recent incident in Sibu where Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) raided four business locations and seized edible bird nests valued at approximately RM2.5 million, as was widely reported in the media. The association said this incident also caused significant concern and confusion among stakeholders and owners of bird nest businesses.

“To compete effectively with neighbouring countries, particularly Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, in the production and export of bird’s nest, while remaining relevant in the relevant market, it is in the Sarawak government’s interest to support the production and export of bird’s nest so that it can be managed better as a natural resource and thus protect revenue generation from this trade.”

The Sarawak Bird’s Nest Association compiled a list of key points raised by stakeholders that advocate for improved regulation, increased competitiveness, monitoring, protection, and governance for both cave and domestic bird nest production. The points are as following:

1. To review the gazetted law in order to clearly define the status of swiftlet species protection. We believe that swiftlet farming is a conservation effort rather than an exploitation of the swiftlet species because it is in the best interests of all breeders to ensure that the welfare of the swiftlets on the farm is protected, population growth occurs, and yields increase. As a result, it’s a perfect ‘win-win’ situation for swiftlet species and breeders.

2. The breeder is willing to follow the rules and laws, including the law governing swiftlet breeding. However, the law should be reviewed and updated to reflect the most recent swiftlet ecology and bird’s nest market conditions. Peninsular Malaysian and Indonesian laws and practices can be used as models.

3. The Sarawak government is strongly advised to recognise the production, processing, and export of bird’s nest as an industry that creates numerous job opportunities for the local community, similar to pepper, cocoa, rubber, palm oil, and other crops. As a result, it is critical to establish a Board of Bird’s Nest to oversee, regulate, coordinate, improve, and promote the bird’s nest industry in Sarawak.

4. As a result, the governing body for the bird’s nest industry should be independent of SFC and fully implemented by the proposed Board to improve the efficiency of licence application processing, approval, monitoring, and enforcement.

5. Publication of the bird’s nest industry handbook to establish stakeholder rules, obligations, and procedures to facilitate compliance and avoid misconceptions and misunderstandings in promoting regulatory compliance.

6. The Board shall protect and fight for the interests of Sarawak and its stakeholders as a whole by providing guidance, disseminating information and education, conducting research, and publishing.

7. It is recommended that the Board’s executive members obey Sarawak government agencies and representatives of relevant stakeholders.

8. To better protect the interests of Sarawakians in terms of integrity and accountability, all foreigners without a valid business registration, licence, and/or personal legal status should be barred from owning, associating with, running, selling, importing, and exporting Sarawak bird’s nests in any form, whether processed or unprocessed.

9. With the appearance of small swiftlet houses in towns, villages, and longhouses throughout Sarawak, it is extremely encouraging to note that the swiftlet farming industry now involves all ethnic groups. It is no longer controlled by wealthy businessmen. Therefore, if developed properly, this valuable natural resource can benefit the entire population of Sarawak.

10. It is also suggested that existing players in the bird’s nest industry be given a grace period during the discussion of this proposal.

— DayakDaily