We are very pleased to learn from Daily Express dated 7th June 2002 that the Special Unit in the State Security Division has intercepted more than 1,000 logs inside the Benta Wawasan timber concession area in Luasong, Tawau, on suspicion of contravening the Sabah Forestry Enactment recently.
The Special Unit has been set up under the preview of Chief Minister's Department to help the Forestry Department in tackling the rampant illegal logging activities described by Chief Minister Datuk Chong Kah Kiat as among "the three sins that need to be eliminated."
We would also like to congratulate Daily Express for highlighting such news proving once again, that Daily Express has acted without fear or favour.
The Chief Minister has kept his promise to eliminate the three sins. The on going Ops Nyiah II has been very successful and received overwhelmed support from all walks of life both in the state as well as at national level.
Having taken such stern actions against illegal immigrants, we certainly hope that similar actions will be taken against illegal loggers in the state. To act without fear or favour is very much needed and awaited against arrogant illegal loggers not only to safeguard the rights of the people but also to preserve the environment and the natural rainforests of our beloved Sabah, Land Below The Wind.
In fact, timber firms through out the country have urged the government, both state and federal to do more to curb illegal logging, which has flooded the timber market with cheap logs and sent many companies into bankruptcy. The rights and interests of these genuine timber companies must be protected.
However, as reported in the local dailies, “It was very reliably learnt that one of the contractors involved is aligned to a "top Sabah politician" and attempts have been made to stop the authority concerned from taking action against them”. These contractors not only challenged the law but also going round using the names of top politicians in the state for their own selfish gains and interests.
Such allegations have badly tarnished the image of Sabah political leaders including the Chief Minister himself. With the foreign news eyeing at us and trying to find faults with us at every opportunity available, such piece of news is certainly damaging, but unavoidable. The confidence of the people in Sabah is also being eroded.
Law abiding timber companies are also subjected to public scrutiny since no names have been mentioned. The Chief Minister was right in asking for names of those involved, the contractors as well as the “top Sabah politician”, if it was true. The genuine leaders and followers alike, who always have the interests of the people in their priority, must not be dragged into such ugly acts. Justice must be given to them and their rights must be protected at all times.
We therefore, call on the state government to make public all reports on the investigation. The good image of the Barisan Nasional leaders must be preserved. The culprits must be brought to court and charge accordingly. We do not want to see history repeats itself where cases involving big names are swept under the carpet. We even hope that the Chief Minister will boldly remove his carpet to show transparency.
Even though illegal logging involves bigger names and stronger influence compared to illegal immigrants but there must not be selective action or selective justice when protecting the rights of the people and the state is concerned. Our Chief Minister must prove to the people of Sabah, whom he has vowed to serve, that no stone is left unturned in the process of fighting against illegal logging. The similar momentum for Ops Nyiah II must be continued.
With the Chief Minister’s good track of record thus far, We are very confident that the people of Sabah will stand firm behind the State Government in its efforts to combat all form of illegalities and irregularities. The people are eagerly waiting to witness another episode of long awaited action from the state government against illegal logging.
One week has passed since the news was reported. The people are all waiting.