By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, August 10: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing has accused developed countries as being selfish and a hypocrite for bullying developing countries like Malaysia over plantation of commercial crops such as the oil palm.
Malaysia as a developing country, he emphasised has the right to develop its resources with crops that have the potential to give good and consistent returns such as palm oil and rubber.
He noted that the country’s oil palm industry has been hampered by strong resistance from certain non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Western countries, especially in Europe and the United State.
“I have no time with foreign NGOs who are hypocrites in telling us what to do with our land. They have cleared most of their forests to be where they are today,” he told DayakDaily today.
“Now they want us to be the world’s carbon sink so we can clean their mess. We aren’t stupid! Please give us more respect. Therefore, I’m very disappointed with Western nations prohibiting rural population from cutting down forests to plant oil palm and rubber,” he added.
Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, pointed out that there were already new technology invented which allow oil palm to be planted under the trees.
“So in order to cultivate oil palm, forests needed to be fell and oil palm must be planted,” he said.
He opined that the only reason behind these NGOs’ resistance to oil palm was purely due to economic rivalry between the East and the West over world vegetable fats which have been masqueraded as environmental issue.
“This is what happened today. It’s soy bean oil versus oil palm! The West mustn’t stop our rural population from earning more. They have the rights to develop their land and to improved their livelihood,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, Masing revealed that in the next two years, more than 50 per cent of the rural areas in Sarawak will be connected by roads and thus will allow the opportunity for the local people to develop their land.
He asserted that the massive allocation from the state government under Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) was to ensure better connectivity and to improve the livelihood of the rural population by 2021.
“With the allocation of RM4.5 billion for infrastructure development within the Northern Regional Development Agency (NRDA), Highland Development Agency (HDA) and Ulu Rajang Development Agency (URDA), the areas will certainly improve,” he said.
“Greater access to rural settlements and towns will offer the rural population a better way of earning their living. It is for this reason that former shifted cultivation areas and Native Customary Right (NCR) land must be allowed to be cultivated. The West should not stop it,” he added.
NRDA covers Limbang and Lawas; HDA covers Baram and Bario highlands and URDA covers Kapit Division; stretching from Kanowit right up to Belaga.— DayakDaily