‘Stop the Chop’ petition against MTCC

Protesters from Gerenai supporting the “Stop the Chop” campaign.

KUCHING, Nov 3: SAVE Rivers Sarawak has urged the Geneva-based Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) to withhold their endorsement of the newly revised Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTSC) standard if the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) continues to issue certificates to companies that disregard the input of indigenous communities in Sarawak.

SAVE Rivers Sarawak chairman Peter Kallang said, the PEFC endorsed labels should promise sustainable timber and adherence to international standards.

“It is time for the PEFC to take action by either solving the outstanding issues or respectively, revoking their support for MTCS. International consumers must realize that the PEFC can no longer guarantee the sustainability of MTCS labelled timber,” Kallang said in a statement issued here today.

He pointed out that this year, MTCC has revised its MTCS standard, adapting it to the PEFC Sustainable Forest Management standard from 2018.

“With the endorsement pending, the PEFC started a public consultation on MTCS. SAVE Rivers, KERUAN, Bruno Manser Fund and The Borneo Project submitted an in-depth report compiling all concerns raised by the communities within the Gerenai and Ravenscourt Forest Management Units (FMU) in Sarawak.

“Copies of the report were also sent to Malaysian accreditation body SIRIM and MTCC, as well as various foreign embassies in Kuala Lumpur. The organisations expect the PEFC to resolve the identified shortcomings or alternatively to withhold their endorsement for MTCS,” he said.

Bruno Manser Fund members made a protest “Stop the Chop” in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday.

Kallang also disclosed that yesterday, civil society groups handed the petition “Stop the Chop” campaign over to the international timber certification body – PEFC in Geneva.

“A total of 6,629 people from all over the world request PEFC to withhold their endorsement of the new revised Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme standard if MTCC continues to issue certificates to companies that disregard the input of indigenous communities,” said Kallang.

He said, “Stop the Chop” petition was brought to the PEFC in Geneva by the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) yesterday as a direct handover was not possible because of the current Covid-19 pandemic in Switzerland.

“Concurrently, affected communities from Gerenai FMU and Ravenscourt FMU (in Sarawak) sent a protest message out.

“The petition asks the PEFC to look into the flaws in implementation of the MTCS on the ground in Sarawak such as the lack of transparency and of consultations with affected communities and the disregard for community initiated forest conservation initiatives. Communities insist that compliance with both national and international standards must be ensured before certificates can be issued,” said Kallang.

Meanwhile, a Penan leader, Komeok Joe stated that the MTCS standard guarantees communities the right to reject logging and to control their own forest management.

“But although we Penans have repeatedly expressed our will to protect our forest and set up blockades against logging companies entering our forest, some of our areas have been recently certified for logging under MTCS.

“Neither the government nor the logging companies respect our rights. That is why now, we turn to the PEFC to enforce the rights guaranteed under the PEFC sustainability label. In the meantime, we will ensure there is no more MTCS certified logging on the ground in our territories,” said Komeok. — DayakDaily