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KUCHING, June 22: Save Rivers Network claims that a giant logging company operating in Baram has obtained a timber certification without consulting the indigenous people in the region.
As such, the NGO is calling for the forest management certification involving 148,000 hectares of forest be cancelled.
In a press statement, Save Rivers claimed that the logging company had pushed through the permit during the Covid-19 time “knowing that the objecting communities had not been consulted”.
The permit is to certify that the timber company followed the Malaysian and international standards for timber to allow the timber extracted there to be sold to European countries and Japan.
According to the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) guidelines, “Indigenous peoples shall control forest management on their lands and territories unless they delegate control with free, prior and informed consent to other parties.”
Save Rivers asserted that according to the MCTS procedure, the timber company is required to consult all communities affected by prospective logging but it “conducted inadequate consultations with most communities” and “failed to consult two objecting communities entirely”.
Save Rivers quoted Danny Lawai Kajan from Long Semiyang for claiming that he and his villagers have no knowledge that certification has been given to the logging company.
“We don’t know what the certificate is for. This is very wrong and not the proper way to do things. There is supposed to be a meeting asking for the villagers’ opinions whether they agree to it or not,” Danny was quoted saying.
Save Rivers also claimed that Kenyah Jamok village of Long Tungan and the Penan village Ba Jawi have both actively opposed the company’s application to their lands.
Jamok community leader John Jau Sigau was quoted as saying,”No one is allowed to cut any tree or hunt in the Ba’i Keremun Jamok unless agreed to by the whole Jamok community. This preserves the plants and animals for future generations”.
“We are working hard on a community conservation and ecotourism initiative to create long term sustainable jobs in our forests, not to chop it all down for short term gain,” John Jiu was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Save Rivers chairman Peter Calling said the MTCS is supposed to protect indigenous rights but the case in Baram, he added is just one of the many examples that demonstrated how the system is toothless in practice.–DayakDaily