Sarawak's Forests Amendment Bill passed

Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan
19/05/2022 07:15 PM

KUCHING, May 19 (Bernama) -- The Sarawak State Assembly today passed a Bill to amend the state’s Forests Ordinance with the intention to improve the management of forests and their natural resources.

Sarawak Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the amendments would be in line with the environmental sustainability thrust of the state’s Post COVID-19 Development Strategy 2030, as well as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

When tabling the Bill, he said the amendments involved the creation of amenity forests from forest reserves, protected and communal forests or constituted from State land forests for educational, research and recreational purposes.

He said another amendment was to introduce licensing of forest carbon activity in permanent forests and on state and alienated land as a move to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through carbon sequestration and storing it within the forests. 

“Under this licensing system, legitimate interests of the licensee and those investing in forest carbon activity are protected by law. The Bill makes it mandatory for any person to obtain a licence before undertaking any forest carbon activity, otherwise an offence would have been committed with penal consequences,” he said.

The Bill which was unanimously supported saw 20 members of the house take part in the debate and among them was opposition leader Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh (PSB-Bawang Assan) who said that he was hopeful that it would “tie up loose ends” in the ordinance which is meant to protect Sarawak’s forests.   

Another opposition member, See Chee How (PSB-Batu Lintang) praised the State Government for proposing the amendment which he said was environmentally positive and good for the economy.

Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Padungan) said the Bill will promote the conservation of Sarawak’s environment and contribute to the worldwide movement against global climate change.

Backbencher Abdul Yakub Arbi (GPS-Balingian) meanwhile said the improvement to the Forest Ordinance reflected the strength gained by GPS after their convincing win in the last state election had been used wisely for the betterment of Sarawak.

Wilson Nyabong Ijang (GPS-Pelagus) said the amendments were far-reaching and aimed towards making Sarawak take up a proactive role in halting the progression of global warming and climate change.