All decent folk in Sarawak heaved a sigh of relief when the vastly paid Torstein Sjotveit returned to Norway after a disastrous stint at Sarawak Energy after attempting to force a string of unneeded, outdated and hugely environmentally destructive mega-dams on the state.
However, he is understood to have left some of his family and fellow Norwegians back in positions he had put them in and now he is back with more troubling plans for ‘eco-friendly’ mega-projects in the state.
In true secretive Sarawak style the first the public knew about Torstein’s ‘reforestation project’ was when it was announced in all the papers that an MOU had already been signed, with the usual handshaking shots with the local powers that be and woolly descriptions of what has been decided:
“The Sarawak Government yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Edge Global Norway AS with the aim to outline broad terms and their understanding in relation to their collaboration to drive the development, financing, execution and operation of a reforestation based and integrated value chain commercial project”
was how the matter was reported in the Borneo Post. So, apart from the apparent confirmation that Torstein and his mega global private company are in it for the money, the wider public are none the wiser about what this ‘reforestation based integrated value chain operation’ might entail.
Most troubling are other references to Mr.Sjotveit’s project targetting degraded areas of permanent forest zones within the state and being focused on “high value timber”. The vagueness is such that the way is open for fast growing foreign species such as acacia to be part of such a scheme, with the target of top profit for foreign hit and run operatives who care nothing for what state they leave the forests for the following generations of people in Sarawak.
Perhaps the Norwegian plan has merit to it and genuine conservation aspirations? Who knows, because the appalling failure to adopt the basic practices of good governance – proper consultation, proper legislative debate and oversight, open tender and all the rest means this is a behind closed doors deal of the sort that as CEO of Sarawak Energy Torstein Sjotveit became practised to disastrous effect.
Norway should sort out its rogue Viking plunderers as it seeks to talk to others about all the good things it wants to do in the world. Could the Norwegian authorities please investigate this businessman and get him to submit his practices to the same criteria they would expect as a bare minimum for public contracts back home?
We await full details of ‘Edge Global’s’ ‘reforestation’ plans, which ought to have been made public long before this tainted businessman booked his first class return flight back into Sarawak.