Good Budget Generally, But What About Our Other Assets – Wildlife!!

File picture of the Sabah Wildlife Rescue Unit team trying to aid an injured orangutan.

By SUMANDAK SUKAU
COMMENT: Having read the Chief Minister’s speech on the Sabah 2018 budget recently, I must profess that I came out with mixed feelings. There were also several comments made in the BorneoToday; those are their views and I respect their comments.

I am also happy that Sabah is doing relatively well economically, well with a surplus budget for the past four consecutive years. It would seem that our Chief Minister is doing well in those aspects and we have to tip our hats to him.

SUMANDAK SUKAU

But on the other hand I am devastated by the sheer short-sightedness of the government – don’t get me wrong – in the one aspect of the State that is most priceless – our pride indeed – The forest and The Wildlife that dwell within.

Nary a word mentioning environment/wildlife conservation at all!!

Perhaps, in his haste, Musa Aman gave it an unintentional miss.

It’s a known fact that the Service Industry, tourism in particular, plays the number one role as a contributor towards Sabah’s GDP. It’s also a known fact that a huge majority of foreign tourists come to Sabah not to the shop shopping complexes, but rather to experience the natural beauty that Sabah has so much to offer – the mountains, beaches, forests, and most of all its wildlife (which probably is the biggest crowd puller of them all).

When we do not safeguard Sabah’s natural assets, such as its wildlife from the scourge of babitat loss/forest fragmentation, and now, a greater and present treat – WILDLIFE POACHING AND ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TREATS, sooner or later these jewels will go.

The smallest elephant in the world – the Borneo Pygmy elephant that is found only in Sabah is being hunted down at an alarming rate.

Almost every month you hear about an elephant or two, being shot and killed, whether for its tusks, for the fun of it or just to protect plantations; pangolins being rescued from being smuggled to China or being eaten by the very same tourists that are coming to Sabah to “experience” Sabah’s wildlife treats not in the jungles, but in illegal restaurants set up around Kota Kinabalu and other areas of Sabah.

Or our marine turtles hunted in the hundreds – for the same reason as the pangolins, sun bears, orang-utan, deer and many other wildlife species which are being hunted to near extinction in Sabah. All these if not stopped, will certainly “kill” the whole nature experience that Sabah has to offer.

All is not loss sir; my suggestion would be for you and the State government to use that surplus (that is if there really is a surplus after all) and invest it to better protect wildlife in Sabah by empowering the local authorities such as the Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Parks and Sabah Forestry Department with more capacity, better assets and better remuneration perhaps, so that they may be better at their jobs in managing our wildlife and forests, because right now THEY ARE NOT DOING A GOOD JOB AT IT.

Sumandak Sukau is the pseudonym of a non-controversial environment lover who seeks anonymity for reasons best known to her. She claims to be from Sukau though.