Sarawak can’t just let foreigners spread lies about us

Posted on March 15, 2011


For yet another day,  work commitments won’t allow me to contemplate on and post about something that I want to share with everyone.

Fortunately, yet again, someone has come to the rescue and this time it’s The Borneo Post that’s come up with something that I would have liked to say.

Technically, the words belong to the Ministry of Planning and Resource Management Deputy Permanent Secretary but it was reported in The Borneo Post Online and you can read it below or click on this link to access the article.

Basically, what I wanted to say was that the State government can’t stand idly by when people, especially people from outside our great State make preposterous claims about us.

So a big THANK YOU to the Deputy Permanent Secretary of Planning and Resource Management. Not only for coming up with content for this posting, but for telling it like it is.


How The Borneo Post reported it:

Western media spinning erroneous reports, says Len

by Churchill Edward. Posted on March 15, 2011, Tuesday

KUCHING: Western media and blogs are out to campaign against oil palm development in Sarawak to make the state forever subservient to the West.

Datu Len Talif Salleh

They are out to destroy the state economically by using environmental issues as weapon, said deputy permanent secretary to the Ministry of Planning and Resource Management Datu Len Talif Salleh when refuting claims that Sarawak is going for 90 per cent deforestation by 2020.

“I say this because there were factual errors in their erroneous claims,” he charged when singling out environmental blog ‘The Independent’ for making erroneous claims.

According to the claims, Sarawak is destroying its forest at the expense of native interest with one reporter Clare Rewcastle even using the name of ex-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown just to make her story credible when the latter endorsed her claims, charged Len Talif when met here yesterday.

Rewcastle is also the runner of London-based and controversial Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) which engaged Sarawakian Iban deejay Peter John Jaban, whom Len Talif claimed as a dropout politician ,using the pseudonym Papa Orang Utan. She is also closely linked to Sarawak Reports portal to disparage the state leadership.

“Firstly, Gordon Brown has never been to Sarawak. Clare Rewcastle, his sister-in-law, may have been born in Sarawak and resided here for about eight years but this does not make her an expert in our land use or to comment on the situation in the country. How can they have the cheek to tell us what to do?” he asked.

He said Rewcastle made an erroneous statement that Sarawak was 100 per cent green in the 80s and that today the state is 95 per cent deforested with only five per cent still untouched, which he claimed even small children would find preposterous.

“A hundred years ago Britain was 100 per cent forested but now less than 10 per cent is forest. More than 60 per cent is agriculture land. But Sarawak wants to turn only 25 per cent of its vast forest into agriculture land and yet they blame us for destroying our forest,” Len Talif lamented.

These “land destroyers” of their own country are the very same people who are blaming the state government which practises sustainable deforestation, he added.

Len Talif said the ultimate agenda of the western world is to make Sarawakians as primitive as ever and also to champion their highly subsidised rape-seed oil over Malaysian palm oil.

“They are out for economic dominance like the last time when they colonised us by making us fight against one another only to get our land as compensation in the pretext of having succeeded to pacify us (various natives of Sarawak),” said Len Talif who was obviously referring to leaders in the Brooke era.

“These are the very same people who colonised us and who want us to be backward again. Their agenda is to see we remain under-developed so that we can be subservient to them again,” he said.

As it is now the whole of Sarawak is 80 per cent forest comprising primary and secondary forests compared to England which is 10 per cent forested, he said.

The state’s land use policy is drawn to make sure 6 million hectares out of 12.4 million hectares are under permanent forest estates and 1 million hectares under totally protected areas (TPA).

Over and above, the state has native customary land (NCL) which is in fact agriculture land by definition and part of state land which are still under secondary forest to make up that 80 per cent forest, he explained.

“We want to open some of this secondary forest area for oil palm which is a strategic crop by way of oil palm development as well as smallholding estates in 2 million hectares out of the 12.4 million hectares.

“The Malaysian government placing the oil palm tree on the RM50 currency note is not for the fun of it. This shows that the country is serious about the crop. This worries the west and Europe because now they have stiff competition,” he pointed out.

It is also unbecoming of some of the so called NGOs for saying that Sarawak is destroying its peat soil when the Netherlands has already destroyed theirs resulting in its land several feet under water, said Len Talif.

“Such erroneous statement about our peat swamp is part of the NGOs’ effort to seek cheap publicity and gain sympathy from the West so that they will be funded forever by interest groups for their lost cause,” he said.

In the Sarawak TPA are peat swamp and also national parks as well as centres for biodiversity research and conservation, he said, refuting the factual errors by NGOs.

Recently the Independent ran an article entitled “Fight for the Borneo rainforest: Gordon Brown celebrates the role of journalist Clare Rewcastle” apparently to highlight the plight of the people in Borneo.

According to the article, Clare Rewcastle claimed that she knew Sarawak was being deforested and over-logged – losing a full square mile a day. The Independent also said she knew Sarawak’s rate of depletion was estimated to be the fastest and worst in the world.

“The cause that is so big and threatening is the wanton destruction of what was once the world’s best-preserved forest, the Borneo forest on both sides of the Indonesia-Malaysian border.

“This deforestation is responsible for more toxic emissions than the pollution spewed into the atmosphere by all the airlines in the world. In fact the Borneo rainforest, while once the best preserved of the world’s top three forests, is only smaller than the Amazon and the Congo basin.

“The rate of depletion is extraordinary: only five per cent of the primary forest is left where it was nearly 100 per cent untouched in the 1960s,” the blog claimed.

“The courage being shown by local Sarawak people gives us all a chance to stop the destruction. If the world fails now we are not guilty simply of a sin of omission; we will be actively condoning the destruction of a nation’s future by people too greedy to see the trees for the wood,” it claimed.