KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27, 2014:

A Sabah lawmaker has questioned how Sabah Forestry director Datuk Sam Mannan approved 82,000ha of forest reserve for an oil palm plantation.

DAP’s Jimmy Wong Sze Phin said this was against the standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil ( RSPO).

The Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament said Mannan was also a board member of Innoprise Corporation Sdn Bhd, parent company to Benta Wawasan Sdn Bhd, which was entrusted to work on the site in Gunung Rata, Kalabakan, since 2004.

“How did they even approve the clearing of land and planting of oil palm by Yayasan Sabah in the middle of the forest?

“This is the first time oil palm has been planted in a forest reserve located in the heart of Borneo and not in a plantation,” he said at a press conference at the Parliament lobby.

Wong said according to the explanation by the Sabah Forest Department, Yayasan Sabah had suffered losses ever since forest produce had diminished.

The 82,000ha of oil palm, he said, was planted to make up for losses from logging.

He also hit out at Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel for avoiding his questions in Parliament, including one on whether he considered oil palm as trees.

Wong said two days ago it was reported that the Forestry Department had recovered 40,000ha of forest reserve over the span of eight years.

The oil palm, he claimed, was planted by smallholders.

“It was a heartless move to clear the smallholders’ land because these are locals who have been applying for land for more than 50 years.”

He said if Palanivel did not answer his question soon, he would lodge a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

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