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Musa made it harder to plunder forest
Published on: Sunday, September 17, 2017

By Richard Wong Tzu Piaw
Seems like the favorite pastime of Malaysian opposition members is cherry picking.

Junz Wong of Party Warisan is one of the outstanding cherry pickers.

Junz was at it again in his recent attempt to discredit Yayasan Sabah’s timber business.

Cherry picking the issue to tell only a fraction of the facts and leaving the majority of the truth out.

Junz, even when he was with DAP seems to not think properly but act on impulse.

This was proven in his previous fiasco on the fake robbery case in KK Suria Shopping Center that saw him suspended from the State Assembly for six months. Maybe after he frog-jumped to Parti Warisan he has grown up somewhat and picked up some sneaky and sinister skills . That whatever is not good or beneficial to Warisan, kill it with lies and distorted facts.

In the statement that Junz gave about the helicopter logging on Yayasan Sabah concession, he basically highlighted only three things, namely;

1. Was Yayasan Sabah exploited?

2. Why was Yayasan Sabah only paid RM65/m3 in royalty?

3. Shown all the market prices of tropical logs in USD and hopefully, this will create an impression that the logging contractor is having a lopsided contract from Yayasan Sabah and this contractor is making a huge profit.

This is typical opposition political psycho technique; highlight only what they want their voters to know and keep voters away from the truth of the issue. Hopefully, this will keep the voters ignorant and dumb forever so that they can continue to manipulate them according to their whims and fancy. Now let us examine what the helicopter logging by Yayasan Sabah is all about and the challenges that the State Government is facing, and the resolutions that the current Sabah government are having on our forest and its resources.

The reason for Yayasan Sabah to carry out helicopter logging or aerial logging is simply to comply with their corporate objective of pursuing Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) on its forest concessions to preserve the forest environment as pristine as possible so that the future generations can continue to enjoy a clean and thriving forest in years to come.

Helicopter logging is expensive. In fact, it is the most expensive logging method in the industry.

There is plenty of information and example’s on the internet to prove how expensive helicopter logging is.

The current helicopter logging rate in the US is about USD100-150/MT, while the time-charter rate by the helicopter logging contractor (Russian) here in Sabah was reportedly about USD8,500/hour in 2013 and has since risen to over USD10,000/hour. The cost of helicopter operation is more than 70pc of the total operating expenses running at about USD100-120/m3, and these figures are available with SSM in the annual audit report filed by companies involving in the helicopter logging operation in Yayasan Sabah concessions.

These figures are accessible to anyone, including Junz.

Besides the time-chartered cost on the helicopter, there are other operational costs and fees incurred in this business operation as well, and they are;

A. The ground operational cost which is estimated at about RM100-120/m3.

B. Royalty for Yayasan Sabah at about RM65/m3.

C. The duty levied by Sabah Forest Department at about RM85/m3 (applied only for helicopter logging or RIL).

D. Levy for Environmental Conservation at RM10/m3.

E. income tax on profit derived from the operation.

All-in-all, the total operational cost, royalty, duty & levy, and taxes are estimated to run at about USD200-240/m3. Assuming the log is selling at USD300/m3 (as suggested by Junz Wong), the net margin for the contractor will be about 20-25pc, which is a reasonable margin for any business in the world.

So, in order to question if Yayasan Sabah is being exploited, one must first understand the whole picture and learn the full spectrum of the business operation. It is irresponsible to show a small part of the picture and a few numbers and figures here and there and expecting voters to fill in the blanks.

If you ask if royalty for Yayasan Sabah is low, the answer is yes and no. Yes, it is low if you take a straight line approach to consider the amount of royalty against the market price without taking into account other costs and expenses incurred, which the royalty paid to Yayasan Sabah is only about 5-7pc of the selling price.

However, if you consider from the environmental conservation point of view, it is a big NO, this is because there is always a trade off when you take on the account of forest preservation and the direct and indirect cost involved.

You can’t have the best of both worlds.

Unlike the oppositions, the current Sabah government is very particular about environmental conservation, and that is why there is no more commercial timber concession awarded since current chief minister, Tan Sri Musa Aman was elected to the post.

Under the current CM, Sabah the government placed close to a million hectares of prime forest land as Total Protection Areaa (TPAa). To give the readers a sense of scale, Singapore is measured at about 72,000 hectares in size and the current TPA forest in Sabah is more than 12 times the size of Singapore.

On top of that, Sabah is the first and only state in Malaysia that has an active conservation policy and programs on its forest and timber resources with foreign NGOs.

Currently, there are 9 areas of more than 750,00 hectares certified under the world renowned forest conservation body, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification on Sabah’s TPA areas. And about 200.000 hectares more are certified under the PEFC-MTCS System and Verification of Legal Compliance (VLC).

There are more forest areas in Sabah being audited for environmental certification as we speak.

According to FSC report and statistics, Sabah’s forest can be considered one of the most protected tropical forests in the world.

These are hard and verifiable facts and one wonders if Junz cares about all these work that the State Government has done in our forest? And if he cares to read up on these facts and data first before criticising the State Government and Yayasan Sabah?

Musa has a reason for doing all these. The involvement of foreign certification bodies is to have a non-biased, accurate and responsible auditing of our forest resources. This is the best check and balance on our forest resources to prevent anybody, now and in the future from misappropriating our forest and scar our land.

If anyone still has doubt about the validity and accuracy of these facts, please check the following websites for verification.


http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/05/31/sabah-leads-the-way-with-two-more-forest-reserves/ https://ga2017.fsc.org/timetable/event/tropical-forest/

Perhaps the real intention of Junz is to ask why Musa is placing so many hurdles and having so many of our forest areas placed under TPA and under the watchful eyes of foreign NGOs? This will make life extremely difficult for Warisan if they form the next state government.... if ever!

Richard Wong Tzu Piaw

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