Chong asks for updates on war against illegal logging

CHONG Chieng Jen (DAP-Kota Sentosa) in his debate speech on the budget yesterday asked Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem for the latest update and follow-up actions on illegal logging that had deprived the state’s coffers of hundreds of millions of ringgit annually.

The state DAP chairman asked how many of the 500 companies and individuals, whose accounts were frozen in May this year for suspected involvement in illegal logging activities, had been prosecuted in Court. He asked for their names including the relevant provision of the law under which they were prosecuted.

Chong asked the chief minister how many timber licensees or contractors had been prosecuted and convicted in Court for engaging in illegal logging activities since launching an all-out war against illegal logging last year.

He also asked how many of these offenders were the state’s giant timber companies which control about 9.2 million acres of timber concession areas.

“In August 2015, Adenan slammed the maritime agency for the Sarawak deep-sea fishing debacle. It was in respect of the deep-sea fishing licences in the state issued by the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries Ministry which have been leased to foreigners to ‘steal our fishes’. Adenan called for the revocation of these fishing licences. How many of these licences have been cancelled?” Chong continued in his speech.

He mentioned that although Adenan had in October last year declared an all-out war against cyber-gambling, there were still many gambling outlets in major cities and towns in the state, which he claimed to be operating under the entertainment and club licences issued by the local councils and Home Ministry.

“In September 2014, the chief minister started the Integrity Pledge for all his cabinet members. Since then, how many of his cabinet ministers are found to have property and assets and living the lifestyle way beyond the means of their ministerial salaries? What action has been or will be taken against them?” Chong questioned.

He also asked what action the chief minister would take if the development fund from the federal government remained disproportionate and unreasonably low, given that Adenan had accused the federal government of treating Sarawak as a stepchild in the national budget.

Touching on rural development, Chong enquired why funding for it had been decreased tremendously from RM1.155 billion this year to only RM650 million for next year, by almost 50 per cent.

“The government has bragged on their utmost concern for rural development, saying next year’s budget as rural-biased but why a reduction of almost RM500 million? Yet the opposition is often accused of not supporting rural development,” he said.

on theborneopost December 10, 2015, Thursday