KUCHING: Former Assistant director of Forests Mengga Mikui has accused his former boss Len Talif of lying when he said that the logjam that happened in early October last year was due to the changing pattern of rain in the area.
“He is not telling the truth,” he said at a ceremony introducing him to be the PKR candidate for Tamin.
The logjam spreading over an area of 250 km along the Rajang River had caused untold damage to the marine life, flora and fauna as well as affecting the livelihood of the people who live near Sarawak’s longest river.
Many people including Land Development Minister and President of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PKR) James Masing have put the blame on uncontrolled and illegal logging activities in forests at Sungai Melatai in Masing’s constituency of Baleh, which caused landslides during heavy rains.
But the Director of Forests Len Talif, strongly denied it was due to logging activities and defended the loggers, blaming the changing patterns of rain in the area as one of the causes of the logjam.
He was also blaming the shifting cultivation as another cause of the landslides.
“Len Talif is lying. His reasoning is stupid,” Mengga said.
“He has to lie to protect some politicians who were involved in the logging activities in the area,” he added.
According to Mengga, the loggers cut the logs and had hid and stocked them in the forests, because they did not want to pay the royalty. And when the prices of timber went down, they allowed the timber to rot.
The piles of timber had trapped huge amount of water over the months and years and there would be a time when the water pressure pushed down the piles of timber dragging with them all debris into the rivers, he said.
“I cannot tell you how much the worth of timber being left to rot. But the amount could be very substantial,” he said.
Mengga also accused timber companies of failing to observe the FAO recommendations and guidelines that they should observe the cutting limit, forest conservation, buffer zones along the river banks, sensitive areas, water catchment areas and certain trees upon which animals and birds rely for food.
“The moment you do not observe these guidelines like the buffer zones along the river banks erosions come in,” he said.
“That is why we have the logjam, and only stupid people blame it on shifting cultivation,” he said.
The logjam not only caused a spat between Masing and Talif, but it also caught the attention of the people around world.
Mengga had served under Talif as Assistant Director of Forests and as Deputy General Manager of Sarawak Forest Corporation Sdn Bhd.
Talif is the Director of Forests as well as the Chief Executive Officer of the Forest Corporation.
Mengga said he quit in September 2009 as deputy general manager because he was so uncomfortable working in the government-linked company.
“As forester we never really practise what is the scientific approach to sustainable forest management, although on paper we said that we are excellent.
“And lot of things I feel so uncomfortable with and my conscience is there for many years as I work for almost 30 years with the government and Sarawak Forest Corporation,” he said.
He added: “For whatever best practice is we want to do is only on paper. So I have always been asked if I do not agree with the team, then I better quit.
“I take the challenge and quit and the only way is that we can change the system in
Mengga, aged 55, a graduate in Bachelor of Science in Forestry from Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (UPM) Serdang and later MSc (Human Resources Development) from Unimas, is tipped to contest as a PKR candidate for Tamin.
His opponent is likely to be Edwin Banta, a businessman from Parti Rakyat Sarawak.
The incumbent assemblyman is Joseph Mauh, who is likely to be dropped to give way to Banta.