SANDAKAN: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal urged all personnel of Sabah Forestry Department to take fast and serious action on complaints relating to illegal logging as it is a sensitive subject to the people of Sabah.
“Make maximum use of all the sources and assets the department has to inspect and take operational action on the field. We have to realise that any issue relating to logging at this time is sensitive and get a lot of attention by Sabahans.
“All personnel of the department must put in full effort to prove that the community stigma that illegal logging is still happening in few districts is not true,” he said.
Shafie said this in his opening speech which was read by Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department, Arifin Asgali, during the Excellence Performance Award of Forestry Department held at Hakka Hall here on Friday night.
Shafie also said that he believes there is still room for improvement in the aspect of law enforcement and he is confident the Forestry Department is able to conduct the task professionally and with integrity.
Earlier, Sabah Chief Forest Conservator Datuk Mashor Mohd Jaini said that it is a challenging time for the department as they have to face with more advanced professional poachers and hunters who are now using guns as weapon.
“Therefore I hope that the State Government would consider channelling more fund into the department so that we could increase our capacity in enforcement. I hope that the annual allocation will not only be set according to annual income of the department, but would also consider the department’s function and responsibility in conserving the state’s heritage so that we would be able to contribute in the aspect of social economy and to the environment,” Mashor said.
Mashor also said that fake news on social media is also one of the biggest challenges that the department has to face.
“The officers and I often lose peaceful sleep time for we need to think about how to overcome fake news that had gone viral on social media. Fake news such as illegal logging had tarnished the department’s image and makes it seems that our personnel are not conducting our duties well.
“The department had to do multiple follow-up inspections on the field and clear the air through local newspapers. This is surely a loss of our time and money. We hope that any issue related to the forestry could be verified with the department first before it is spread,” he said.
Eighty-six Forestry staff received the Excellent Performance Award for their outstanding contribution throughout 2016.
KTS Plantation Sdn Bhd was one of 24 companies with Forest Management License Agreement that received Compliance Certificate, while 10 Sustainable Forest Management Projects under the Forestry Department also received the same award.