DCM defends Sarawak's forest clearing policy
Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Numpang has risen to the defence of the state's policy of large scale clearing of forests for oil palm cultivation, accusing western NGO of forgetting their own record in environment protection.
He pointed out that their forefathers had razed their own forests in Europe, United States and Australia some 300 years ago, for the same reason as the state - to eradicate poverty.
"They burnt the trees and forests, thereby producing greenhouse gaseous, still trapped in the ozone layers," Jabu charged at the opening of the Toastmasters' International District 87 covering Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore in Kuching today.
"Now, some of these irresponsible NGOs seem to think that we in the tropics are the sole people causing pollution that was started by their forefathers," he said.
Jabu, (left ) who is also the state minister for rural development, likened the western NGOs to borrowers of money, who should be made to repay "compound interest on the loans" that their forefathers had borrowed from the bank.
He said that legitimately, the developing countries can ask those culprits to repay, proportionately, for the sins of their forefathers.
Novel way to punish offenders
"We would like to come up with a formula, that is, if these culprits can be made to be more responsible for the damage they had done, generating a lot of greenhouse gaseous, then these people should be charged compound interest before they are allowed to open their mouths to condemn us," he said.
He said such a move sounded logical as developing countries are being hit with lots of accusations from western NGOs.
Jabu also slammed an Australian senator for tabling a Private Member's Bill which seeks to ban palm oil products not labelled eco friendly from entering Australia.
"I have nothing against Australia as my children were all educated there and one of them is married to an Australian, but the point is that this senator, who has never been to Sarawak, has been misled into tabling the Bill," he said.
He advised the senator if he really wants to advocate his mission to visit Sarawak, including calling him as minister of rural development.
"He must remember that his country had once been forested, but because of what his forefathers had done, the forests had been transformed into pastures," Jabu said.
Sweating mightily to help rural folk
He added that about 50 per cent of Sarawak's 2.45 million population are residing in the rural areas where basic infrastructure is lacking.
He said the government has to keep abreast of challenges in hinterlands where accessibility and topography made communications difficult, including efforts to provide access to digital facilities.
"These are the scenarios which are facing, and yet at international forums, be it in Europe, United States or Australia, the negative NGOs do not want to understand the basic needs for us to provide facilities to eradicate poverty as our priority,"Jabu said.
He said these NGOs, instead, condemned the Sarawak government as they tended to equate the state with Europe, the United States and Australia , forgetting that they are developed nations.