Was ‘Helicopter Logging’ Deal Close To Maliau Lopsided, Queries Warisan

Junz Wong speaking to the media about his claims that a Yayasan Sabah logging concession contract was lopsided and too close the Maliau Basin.

KOTA KINABALU: A question mark hangs over a lucrative Yayasan Sabah logging concession deal purportedly given out near the pristine Maliau basin forest reserve, which Parti Warisan Sabah fears is a lop-sided deal.

Junz Wong, who urged the Chief Minister to clear the air on the alleged timber deal said he also had reason to fear environmental issues could arise as logging was being done on a steep slope close to the high conservation area known as the ‘lost world.

The Likas Assemblyman claimed he had received a document, and that has since been making its rounds on social media, and he found the terms favoured the concessionaire more than Yayasan Sabah.

“Musa needs to clear the air on this development,” Junz told a press conference at the Sabah State Assembly.

For illustration only

According to the letter, it appears that Yayasan Sabah has awarded a lucrative “helicopter logging” concession to a private company, (name known to BorneoToday) on July 5, 2013.

The concession is for a steep area within Yayasan Sabah’s own concession at the Gunung Rara/Kalabakan Forest Reserves.

Junz queried as to who the people are behind the company and why it was given such a lucrative deal of paying only RM65.00 per cubic metre (m3) of timber.

He also claimed that the company was given the privilege of being appointed as the exclusive buyer for the logs to be extracted from the helicopter logging areas.

“As the contract doesn’t specify what type of timber the concession is for, we can only assume that it covers all types of logs,” he said

According to Junz, with an expected log production of about 20,000-25,000 /m3 per month the company would have raked in RM27 million each month.

(25,000m3 x USD300 average (equivalent approximately RM1100.00 at RM 3.70 to USD1 exchange rate then)

The concession in question.

He further alleged that based on this calculation, the estimated amount paid to Yayasan Sabah was merely RM1,625,000 out of RM27 million.

He also conservatively noted the prices of timber traded on a FOB basis between 2013 as: –

Meranti SQ – USD275 – 295 /m3; Kapur SQ – USD340 – 365 /m3; Keruing SQ – USD280 – 300 /m3 and Selangan Batu regular – USD510 – 535 /m3

“Firstly, we want the Chief Minister to confirm or deny the contents of the letter of offer that indeed such a timber concession contract was awarded,” Junz urged.

“We also want Musa, who in the past has claimed that he saved Yayasan Sabah, to explain how such a lopsided deal which is akin to daylight robbery could be awarded during his tenure,” added Junz who is also Warisan vice president.

“I have also been informed by experts in the field that logging at steep areas shouldn’t be carried out to prevent soil erosion and to preserve catchment areas, and I was told that it’s part of the forestry policy to prohibit logging at steep areas as well.”

Junz also noted that the news of the 16 dead Bornean elephants was reported in late October 2013, while the contract was awarded in July that same year, and asked if the event was coincidental

He also stressed that Musa must come clean if the helicopter logging activity was carried out at Maliau Basin, a 1st class forest reserve, which is located in the Kawasan Gunung Rara/ Kalabakan forest reserve.

“I urge Datuk Seri Musa Aman to also answer the following: –

1. How much was logged in total from this concession area;

2. How much revenue did Yayasan Sabah earn in total;

3. What happened to the water catchment areas;

4. How bad was the soil erosion after these steep areas were logged; and

5. How did this logging affect the wildlife.

Junz urged the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission to initiate an investigation on all parties involved to check whether or not there were any discrepancies in this lucrative lopsided deal.