Abang Johari (fifth left) launching a coffee-table book in conjunction of STIDC’s golden jubilee celebration at BCCK on last night. – Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING (Aug 15): The operations of Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) need to reflect the global shift towards the environmental sustainability agenda, said Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Abang Johari explained that global banking institutions are now encouraging companies to comply with environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives and products produced via sustainable practices are being preferred.

“I would like to urge STIDC to change its direction slightly so that we become a friendly player to the environment and if we do this, the market will be with you,” he said when officiating STIDC’s golden jubilee celebration at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here last night.

Abang Johari acknowledged the timber industry is a very important contributor to the state’s economic development, and that STIDC has been tasked with the responsibility to facilitate the growth of the industry for the past decades, particularly downstream activities.

He remarked that Sarawak has come a long way since being a major producer of quality plywood, with timber activities now diversified into manufacturing furniture and other timber-based products.

However, Abang Johari felt Sarawak has to fulfil its duty to the environment by engaging in environmentally-friendly and sustainable activities, and one of the initiatives taken up is the replanting of forests.

“Therefore, we need to take a new approach and STIDC also needs to work with the Land and Survey Department as the agency has layers of data concerning soil conditions and knowing which land is most suitable for specific species of tree or bamboo.”

He added that bamboo plantation is among the endeavour embarked by the state to produce sustainable products.

Thus, he stressed that it is crucial for the state to produce and export sustainable products that meet international standards, and research and development have to continuously be carried out in cooperation with local universities to identify best industry practices.

“What I am saying here is there are lot of new products and we have to adapt to new approaches. We are fortunate that the climate is with us in the sense that we have enough rainfall, sunlight and suitable soil conditions for plantations,” he said.

The Premier further remarked that there must be a structured approach in managing the timber industry and that all relevant agencies, including STIDC, Land and Survey Department and Forest Department, must work together to achieve the objective of sustainable timber industry by 2030.

On a separate note, Abang Johari said a three-star hotel and a golf course will be built in Belawai to tap into the tourism industry.

Among the dignitaries present at the celebration were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, deputy premiers Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, State Legislative Assembly Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar.