TAWAU: Hap Seng Building Materials Sdn Bhd Chief Executive, Ron Delaney, surprised us when he claimed his company’s quarry work in the Kukusan Forest Reserve has ‘complied with the requirements’ set by the authorities
How does Delany’s ‘compliance’ claim and ‘approval by the authorities’ square with the fact that Kukusan Forest was designated a Class 1 Protection Forest between 1984 and 2003 which by law means strict protection where not ONE STAND OF TIMBER CAN BE REMOVED, much less removing rocks but by his admission, Hap Seng quarried Kukuksan all through that period ?
The Forest Legislation specifically state that no destruction of forest reserve in the process of removing forest produce.
This is the puzzling question SEPA Tawau is asking Delany and also the Office of the Director of Forestry Department Sabah to answer.
How is it that Hap Seng seemed to be given a free hand to do what look like a clear violation of the most essential safeguard for Sabah’s key forest resources?
We know from press clips some Tawau folks protested when they noticed this obvious anomaly and what happened next was Kukusan was downgraded to Class 2 Forest Reserve, instead of taking Hap Seng to task.
But even then, Class 2 status permits only commercial extraction of timber, not rocks, going by the limits set in the Forestry Enactment but Hap Seng also continued to quarry for rocks under its Class 2 status?
To every Sabahan, this is clear violation of Sabah Forestry laws, not compliance.
Delany owes the people of Tawau and Sabah an honest explanation how he deems obvious violations and noncompliance as ‘compliance’.
Similarly, the Office of the Director of Forestry Department also must explain why it ‘permitted’ quarrying even in class 1 protection Forest as Delany said categorically that Hap Seng Building Materials ‘complied with the requirements set by the authorities.’
How can quarrying a Class 1 and Class 2 forest be described as ‘compliance with the requirements set by the authorities’ when the requirements set the authorities clearly rule quarrying out, as far as every Sabahan knows it?
Doesn’t this case set the precedence that even Class 1 forest status doesn’t guarantee protection?
This incidence worries SEPA Tawau because it suggests that even the Class 1 status given to other high conservation areas like Maliau Basin and Danum Valley Conservation Area does not guarantee they are safe from being blown up.
Delany and Sam Manan need to explain the key question we have been asking from Day 1 -what makes it possible to deem non-compliance, compliance?
Other issues like the potential of leaving a toxic lake behind, or so called ‘compliance with approval s’ such as vibration ,air blast, airborne dust, water quality and noise level which Delany said EPD was checking were just side issues
Neither was SEPA looking at Hap Seng’s small pledge to return the area with well landscaped observatory platform 100 metres above sea level with sealed road access on one side and a fresh water lake, on project completion of it whole of life Plan Supplementary agreement with Forestry Department.
Meaning Kukusan Hill of 190 metres over sea level will be cut down to 100metres. How can Hap Seng compliance without violating Sabah Land Ordinance of gazette Trig Hill when they brimg down the hill
SEPA Tawau highlighted this case to alert everyone that no resources may be safe from foreign grab if they tell Sabahans their exploitations of even Class 1 forests had the approvals of the authorities.