Sarawakians to live in harmony with man and nature

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg wants to build a state of harmony, not only for man but for nature.

For nature, he said the state government has earmarked 31 more Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) covering about 452,000 hectares to ensure that by 2020, 10 per cent of Sarawak’s land surface would be covered by green forests.

“We want to preserve more of our forest as Totally Protected Areas. As of last year, about 860,000 hectares of our forest has been gazetted as Totally Protected Areas.

“The TPA comprises national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries.

“The government has earmarked 31 more TPAs covering about 452,000 hectares and by 2020, the state would have at least 1.3 million hectares of Totally Protected Areas out of the total land size of 12.445 million hectares, which is about 10 per cent,” said Abang Johari while officiating at the state dinner held in conjunction with the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Summit of Peace at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here last night.

To show the government’s determination, he also stressed that the state government will no longer issue timber concessions on state land while short term timber extraction licenses are only given for clearing of merchantable timber in areas approved for development purposes.

“The government has also stopped the issuance of permits for the purpose of setting up large-scale oil palm plantations on government land except for those on Native Customary Rights lands,” said Abang Johari.

JCI World president Dawn Hetzel (fourth left) presenting a souvenir for Abang Johari (fifth left) while other dignitaries including Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing (seventh left) look on.

Apart from preservation, Abang Johari who is also the Minister of Urban Development and Natural Resources said it has been his vision to unlock the secrets of Sarawak’s rich bio-diversity through research and development.

“I have put in place a policy that will enable research to be conducted on our plants and animals with a view to give much greater value to our bio-diverse nature rather than simply extracting the raw materials for export like we used to do.

“Research and development is the way to go in order to be assured of the sustainability of our natural resources, and be assured of a better future for ourselves, the stability of our economy and eventually creating an inclusive environment conducive to the creation of a peaceful and socially united society,” he said.

Delegates Sanda Medne (left) from Latvia and Dovile Ziaukiene from Lithuania at the state dinner for the JCI International Summit of Peace.

In terms of state harmony, he said unity among all races has been a prerequisite to a peaceful state.

“Kuching City is the first city in Malaysia to be given the award of ‘City of Unity’. I believe this is very relevant to our pursuit of peace as unity cannot come to prevail without peace, or it may be the other way round.

“In this context, we are proud of our city of Kuching where people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds have proven to be capable of living together as peaceful neighbours for generations.

“We are people of different races and religious beliefs but we have striven all this while to understand each other and accept the peculiarities of a fellow Sarawakian who might be living, sitting or standing next to us,” he said.