Musa Aman takes Likas assemblyman to task over accusations on state forest reserves

AVILA GERALDINE and BRANDON JOHN

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman has lambasted Likas assemblyman Junz Wong for not checking his facts before issuing allegations on the state's forestry issues.


Musa, during the state assembly sitting today, said he was ever ready to provide a clear explanation on the issue as well as Yayasan Sabah-related matters to Wong, who is Parti Warisan Sabah vice-president.


Musa took Wong to task over his claims that the Sabah government had converted 250,000 acres (101,171 hectares) of forest reserves into oil palm plantations.


“By accusing the government (of this), you conveniently decide to ignore the achievements made by this government that has gained international recognition.


“The Likas assemblyman has jumped the gun by not checking his facts before hurling these allegations.


“Why don’t you come and see me? In case you don’t understand, I will explain the matter to you from A to Z. I wish to remind (Wong) that the (assemblyman's) job entails more than just endless publicised criticism of the present government,” said Musa during the question and answer session.


Musa advised Wong to focus on going to the ground and serve his area instead of being ‘an armchair critic of the government’.


He said this when responding to an additional question by Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin (Harapan Rakyat-Klias) on claim made by certain quarters that the government had approved about 250,000 acres of land within the Forest Management Unit (FMU) for oil palm plantations.


Recently, Wong was quoted by local media urging Musa to clarify as to whether state government had allowed the mentioned plot of forest land to be converted into oil palm plantations.


He claimed to have received information that FMU2 had been turned into oil palm plantations contrary to provisions under the scheme which was meant to promote reforestation once logging ended.


Earlier, in his reply to Lajim’s initial question, Musa said government had issued 34 licenses to companies under FMU.


“Thirty-three licences involved forest reserves with an area of 1.53 million hectares while another license involved government land with an area of 60,000 hectares.


“According to the conditions of the licence agreement, among the activities required to be carried out by the companies are to implement replanting (of trees) after logging and rehabilitation of degraded forests,” explained Musa.