If we thought the bulk of corruption in the logging industry was over with the charges against Musa Aman and the removal of Sam Mannan from office, we were wrong. The former State Conservator of Forests for Sabah, Sam has been followed by accusations of corruption, and long been a controversial figure – he held his post for close to twenty years, and approved many questionable logging operations. Sam was known for allegedly trying to push out native people from forest land, accusing them of causing destruction to the forests with their way of life, re-zoning forests for palm oil, and issuing timber licenses to cronies.
Certainly there were questionable practices going on in Sabah, and that is where the MACC comes in – probably invited by the new state government who have their own reasons for getting rid of people loyal to BN. Sam Mannan was considered one of Musa’s close associates – and is probably the reason Sam held the post for almost twenty years. How convenient to have someone in place who can issue timber licenses and logging approvals at any time.
Yet things haven’t really changed without Sam Mannan. Recently in Tenom, villagers were shocked to find logging activities had been approved that would threaten the ecosystem and ruin their livelihoods. The police had to be brought in to stop the logging.
Angkatan Perpaduan Sabah claims the State Chief Conservator of Forests gave approval for logging in Tenom, and the NGO called out Chief Minister Shafie Apdal for his hypocrisy, quoting his statement last year that ‘anything that harms the environment will not be allowed even though it brings revenue to the State’.
Where is the Warisan government’s integrity in fighting corruption in the timber industry when they themselves might be guilty of questionable logging approvals? Haven’t we seen too many incidents that prove the concern that this is nothing more than a ‘U-Turn’ government? Just like before, it is an administration that doesn’t listen. A government not for or by the people, but one that does whatever it feels like.
Ever since he left his offices in August, Sam Mannan has effectively vanished. Where is he? If Sam is being brought to justice on corruption charges, don’t the people have a right to know? Have any charges been filed? If there is none, what was the explanation behind his removal? Do we live in a cowboy town?
Nor has there been news on the Conservator of Forests. Who has been newly elected to hold the position that Sam Mannan filled? Will this be a political appointment or one that prioritises ability and community? Who approved the Tenom logging?
Is there no accountability? It is possible that Sam Mannan has been removed, only to be replaced with a ‘yes man’ for the current government who will approve any deal if told to do so – or to say no. Is this what the people of Sabah voted for? A continuation of an uncaring leadership, who takes from the land but doesn’t give back to the people? How many times will the incident in Tenom repeat itself all over Sabah? Profits from logging activities have barely helped the people of Sabah – don’t let this continue! Say no to lies and hypocrisy.
For more information: http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/137871/aps-why-the-tenom-logging-approval-/