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PM’s “No more logging licence” does not sound to be a categorical and absolute “NO” but more of a “No…but”
(Parliament, Saturday): The Star headline is categorical and unequivocal – “PM: No more logging licences – ‘Important to maintain current forest’”.
But close reading of the speech by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as reported does not convey a categorical and absolute “No” but more of a “No…but”, allowing for exceptions and exemptions in special circumstances.
This is the Star report:
SANDAKAN: No more logging licences will be given out as far as the Prime Minister is concerned.
“I will turn down anyone who comes to me asking for logging licences. If I want to make them happy, I will tell them to ask Musa (Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman), knowing that he will say no too,” said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Cautioning forest custodians to not simply give out logging licences when opening the RM9.2mil Rainforest Discovery centre about 30km from here, Abdullah said he would not entertain people requesting for logging licences from the states.
He said it was important to maintain the current natural forests as they were important to the eco-system.
I do not think any remark by Abdullah has raised more questions. For instance: Why “No more logging licences….as far as the Prime Minister is concerned”? Does this mean that so long as the Prime Minister is not aware, it is ok for logging licences in Sabah to continue to be issued?
Is Abdullah’s “No more logging licences” declaration for Sabah only or for all states, whether Sarawak or the Peninsular Malaysia states under Barisan Nasional control – and how could this decree be carried out when it is based on Abdullah’s off-the-cuff speech? Or is it just going to be good media copy to be instantly forgotten or ignored by the various state governments concerned?
Abdullah’s next remark is even more baffling. He said: ““I will turn down anyone who comes to me asking for logging licences. If I want to make them happy, I will tell them to ask Musa (Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman), knowing that he will say no too.”
Firstly, why not be honest and God-fearing and just tell the truth to all future supplicants that there is a total ban on the issue of logging licences in Sabah for conservation purposes? Why sent them off to the Sabah Chief Minister to “make them happy”?
Furthermore, how does he know that the Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman agrees with a total ban on issue of logging licence in Sabah? If so, why is this ban on new logging licences in Sabah not announced formally as Sabah state government policy?
Abdullah’s remarks have other implications as well – that in the past, he had acceded to requests for logging licences in Sabah and other states and that the Sabah Chief Minister and other heads of state governments concerned had been instructed to comply with these requests – hence his statement that henceforth “he would not be entertain people requesting for logging licences from the states”.
This of course shows the power of patronage of the Prime Minister who is Umno President, for strictly speaking, the Prime Minister has no business to interfere in state matters like the issue of logging licences.
But is this in line with the National Integrity Plan and good governance which Abdullah had preached on becoming Prime Minister?
Further, in keeping with the principles of accountability, transparency and integrity, will Abdullah to announce publicly the full list of the state logging licences which he had been instrumental in securing for various supplicants from Sabah and the other state governments since becoming Prime Minister?
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman