Malaysia: Sarawak to arm senior Forestry officers to curb illegal logging

yu ji The Star 25 Sep 14;

KUCHING: Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has had enough of illegal logging devastating the state’s forests, famous for its diverse wildlife.

From next month, 50 of the most senior enforcement officers in the state’s Forestry Department are expected to be issued with firearms.

“We will be issuing arms to Forestry (Department) officers. This is the first time that we are doing it.

“I’ve seen it from the air. I’ve received reports on timber smuggling, illegal felling of trees and non-payment of royalties.

“Some of these have been done in broad daylight. We want to put a stop to all that,” Adenan told reporters after opening the “Integrity Week for Sarawak’s Enforcers” here yesterday.

Asked about the reason enforcement officers will need to be given firearms, Adenan said: “So that enforcers will be more confident.

“Sometimes if they go empty-handed, the other side might be armed, you see.”

Other measures to step up enforcement would be to supply more four-wheel drive vehicles and equipment to the officers, he added.

“We have to make our enforcement more efficient. I expect to see results in the next six months.

“If figures are still not improved, then we will need to do something more drastic,” said Adenan.

Admitting that enforcement was still lacking, he cited the existence of illegal sawmills, theft in the oil palm sector, encroachment of foreign vessels into Malaysian borders and “night clubs operating after permitted hours”.

“There is too much of these activities going on,” Adenan said.

With the arming of Sarawak’s forestry officers, it will join Sabah as the other state which has issued guns to its enforcement team against poachers and illegal loggers.

On the Integrity Week, which was attended by 500 personnel from the Forestry Department, Adenan said more would be held soon, calling it the “first step of his administration to combat corruption”.

State department director Sapuan Ahmad said the first officers to be armed with guns should be on patrol in a month’s time.

“Standard operating procedures will be drawn from the police and joint training will begin immediately,” he said.

“This proposal came from our department. Our men have been threatened before by gangsters.

“There have been reports of rural folk shooting (in self-defence) at loggers. When there are situations like these and my men are not equipped, how can they not feel scared?”

Officers with firearms to guard forests from illegal timber fellers
ADIB POVERA New Straits Times 24 Sep 14;

KUCHING: The state government is coming down hard on illegal timber fellers by authorising enforcement officers from the forestry department with firearms.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said the state government have made procurement of the weapon and it would be issued to forestry enforcement officers in phases.

In the initial stage, Adenan said, a total of 50 key officers from the forestry department’s enforcement division would be armed with guns to make them less vulnerable to threat when executing their duties.

“The move will help the enforcement officers to be more confident (when performing their duties).

“Sometimes they go to the scene empty handed and the other side might be armed.

“And of course, the officers will adhere to the standard operating procedures (when using their weapons). They will be properly trained,” he told reporters after launching a two-day long seminar on integrity for enforcement officers within the government department at the Borneo Convention Centre here today.

Also present at the seminar, which was attended by 500 participants, was Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.

Adenan said the forestry department would also be provided with more four-wheel vehicles to step up enforcement at forests in the state.

Adenan, however, did not elaborate the number of vehicles that would be supplied to the forestry department.

“We want our forest officers and forest warden to be on the ground all the time.

“Since assuming the chief minister post, I have received reports on timber smuggling and non payment of royalties which in some occasion was committed in broad daylight.

“I have seen from the air our forest being devastated by illegal loggers. I want to put a stop on all that.”

The state government, he said, also plans to extend the usage of firearms to enforcement officers attached with other state government’s departments and agencies in the future.

Adenan also urged state enforcement officers to be firmed and efficient when performing their duties, which he described as important for the state government to put a stop on timber smuggling and illegal felling activities.

“We want to put a stop to timber smuggling, illegal felling, sale of stolen palm oil, encroachment by fishing trawlers and other unauthorised activities.

“This can be done by getting the enforcement officers to be more strict and efficient.