Sarawak should have earned RM19bn in logging royalties from an estimated one hundred million trees chopped down over the years, says an Aliran correspondent. So why are so many in the state still poor?
He adds: “To help visualise what 100000000 trees are, let us assume that all logging is carried out according to law and that the average tree has a diameter of 50cm. Then, one hundred million trees, side-by-side at the trunk, would come to 50000km. They would circle the earth at the equator and have 10000km left over!”
In his article for Aliran, Philip Khoo wrote:
By official statistics, Sarawak chopped down over 370 million cubic metres of logs between 1980 and 2006. Since up to 40 per cent of the tree goes to waste, this amounts to something like 620 million cubic metres of trees. That is a lot of trees: if we estimate a tree to average 6 cubic metres, that’s something like 100000000 trees* — one hundred million trees! — and that’s not counting all the trees that are damaged irreparably by logging activity.
Let’s be conservative and use the present royalty of RM50 per cubic metre to estimate that these 370 million cubic metres of logs would have resulted in about RM19bn in royalty over the years.
RM19bn in royalty — not counting all the other revenue that logging contributes to — and Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Rural Development Alfred Jabu Numpang says that rural Sarawak is still lacking in basic infrastructure? Whatever happened to the RM19bn? Did others just numpang on it, while the rural people saw the forests disappear before their very eyes?