Masing says not involved with logging companies, as Sarawak’s logjam continues

SARAWAK Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Jemut Masing has refuted claims that he owns shares in timber logging projects in Sarawak.

His denial comes after many chided him over the massive logjam in Sungai Baleh in central Sarawak.

Masing was heavily criticised on social media on why nothing was done to stop destruction caused by logging projects and protect forests and natives, despite he being a long-time minister of land development, reports The Vibes.

“You are the deputy CM, don’t just talk,” said a critic. “Why is the logging getting out of hand and causing so much destruction to our forests and nature?

“You should have stopped them. What is the point of being a DCM and YB if you cannot control the timber companies?”

Another netizen told Masing to resign as deputy chief minister and assemblyman for Baleh if he cannot fulfil his duties to protect the natives.

Masing had an exchange of words with his critics, denying allegations that he owns shares in the logging projects.

“Please note that I am not the authority giving out timber concessions, nor do I have an iota of timber business shares, as alleged by unscrupulous cybertroopers,” he replied.

Masing said that he knows those who have had associations with timber business groups in the past and present, but did not reveal any names.

The massive logjam in Sg Baleh, Kapit, central Sarawak that started on Sunday has caused river travel woes for thousands of riverine villagers.

Some 200,000 people in Sibu have been hit by a water supply disruption from yesterday as raw water intake has been affected by the tonnes of timber choking rivers in Kapit about 300km away.

Sibu residents also complained that their taps had run dry since the early hours of yesterday.

Sibu Water Board said operations at the Salim and Bukit Lima treatment plants were disrupted around 3am yesterday due to heavy mud at the raw water intake source.

“The water intake source is linked to the river affected by the logjam. We are gradually restoring water intake after taking measures to remove the silt,” the board said, adding that water supplies will normalise gradually.

Save Sarawak Rivers chairman Peter Kallang called for a probe into environmental degradation.

He expressed frustration that their timber operations had caused tonnes of debris to flow into the rivers.

According to The Vibes, he said the state should withdraw the logging permit for these irresponsible logging operators.

This is the second major logjam that happened in Kapit this year.

On March 30, the state authorities carried out the massive task of clearing tonnes of timber debris jamming the upper reaches of Sg Balui in interior Bakun Dam, also in central Sarawak.

Since January, tonnes of timber logs and debris from logging zones have jammed up Sg Balui and its tributaries in the upper reaches of Bakun Dam in Belaga district, cutting off more than a thousand natives.

The natives have been unable to travel to the outside world to buy essential items, or go fishing, as the rivers are clogged by massive piles of logging debris washed into these rivers during the floods in November and December last year and in January this year.

The affected villagers are from the populated settlements of Long Keboho, Naha Jalei, Naha Nyalong, Long Bulan, and Long Jawa.