“Foremost, orang utan habitats in Malaysia are fully protected by laws in both Sabah and Sarawak (only places where orang utans live); Sarawak sets aside six million hectares for Permanent Forest Reserves, one million hectares for Totally Protected Areas and 84,000 hectares specifically for orang utan conservation areas,” said Soppoa.
[Teresa Kok, Facebook]
The minister has all the resources of the government at her disposal to obtain facts, yet instead she quotes a Sarawak body that is made up of some of the biggest logging companies cum oil palm producers on the planet.
In her present job she represents the wider interests of the Malaysian public as well as these big industry players and perhaps it is time she made some effort to show a balance between what benefits the share portfolios of a wealthy few and the the livelihoods of people whose lands have been taken and destroyed, as well as the environment?
She could, for example, have compared the comfortable claims of Soppoa with a recent global scientific body’s assessment of the situation facing orangutans in Borneo, which places the role of deforestation and oil palm as central to their decline?
Nearly all Sarawak’s ‘forest reserve’ has been logged over several times (largely by Soppoa companies) making it no longer suitable for canopy species such as orang utan. The International Union for Conservation of Nature published a study last year in which it described the animals as now critically endangered with populations having plummeted by more than half since the start of this century alone:
“Hunting and killing have driven a dramatic decline in the orangutan population on Borneo where nearly 150,000 animals have been lost from the island’s forests in 16 years, conservationists warn.
While the steepest percentage losses occurred in regions where the forest has been cut down to make way for palm oil and acacia plantations, more animals were killed by hunters who ventured into the forest, or by farm workers when the apes encroached on agricultural land, a study found.
Researchers estimate that the number of orangutans left on Borneo now stands at between 70,000 and 100,000, meaning the population more than halved over the study period which ran from 1999 to 2015…..
“I expected to see a fairly steep decline, but I did not anticipate it would be this large,” said Serge Wich, a co-author on the report at Liverpool John Moores University. “When we did the analyses, we ran them again and again to figure out if we had made a mistake somewhere. You think the numbers can’t be that high, but unfortunately they are.”
Does the minister dismiss this as ‘mere propaganda’ by scientists or does she appreciate that the major palm oil plantation owners of Soppoa could actually be somewhat biased in what they claim?
It is time for ministers to stop acting like errand boys for big business – that was BN’s stance, but they at least had good reason as they were also shareholders. Why not just face up to the facts, face up to the future and turn the situation round?