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  Antara 26 Sep 06
Indonesia won't compromise with illegal loggers

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government is committed to dealing with illegal logging in the country and make no compromises with illegal loggers, including those whose names are on the travel-ban list.

The measure was taken as forest damage had caused floods and drought as well as haze. Such disasters were due to the fact that the forests had been managed in the wrong way over the past 30 years and illegal logging has contributed to such natural disasters.

Forestry Minister MS Kaban recently said his ministry has shared a commitment with the State Police chief to stamp out illegal logging in the country.

"Those mentioned in the list of wanted persons must be arrested and there will be no suspended detention for them. No more compromise with them," the minister said. He said the Forestry Ministry had asked the police to soon arrest those who were on the list of persons wanted for involvement in illegal logging activity.

He cited as an example Adelin Lis (an illegal logger) who was arrested in Beijing, China, recently. "All the wanted persons including those in Jambi and Kalimantan must be arrested this year," he said, adding there were about four or five wanted persons (Malaysians) in Jambi and one Korean in Medan, North Sumatra.

The minister said the number of illegal logging activities in the country had drastically decreased. "The operations to stamp out illegal logging have been about 80 percent successful. Now we only continue to arrest the persons (illegal loggers)," he said.

Kaban disclosed that there were about 49 or 50 bigtime illegal loggers and thousands who were categorized as small-scale operators.

The minister said the wanted persons were hiding somewhere in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China where they had links of illegal logging businesses.

"All (illegal logging suspects) have been put on the list of persons who are banned from traveling abroad. The problem now is that one person may have three names and three passports," he said.

He also said that besides Adelin Lis, the police had also arrested several other culprits like Aipeng and Mulyadi in Riau province. Illegal logging in certain regions

The central government has also called on the provincial/district administrations where illegal logging was rampant to take measures against persons or institutions involved in illegal logging in their respective regions.

Illegal logging activities in Rumah Kai village, Kai Ratu subdistrict, Western Seram district in Maluku province have become a hot issue in a number of local print media in Ambon (capital of Maluku).

The felling activities were reported to have expanded to the protected forest area in the village causing environmental damage in surrounding areas.

The Maluku provincial administration has set up a special team dealing with illegal logging activities allegedly involving among others PT Berdiche Glow (BG) in the protected forest area in Rumah Kai village.

The special team consisted of officials from the Maluku forestry office, the Maluku Natural Resources Conservation Agency, the Maluku police, the Maluku provincial supervision agency, the local forestry office and plantation office.

Maluku Governor Karel Albert Ralahalu once said if the illegal logging was proven, he would take stern measures against those involved in the illicit practices. Ralahalu said based on temporary reports from the Maluku forestry office, the felling activities committed by PT BG in cooperation with PT Mandala Mandiri Perkasa were considered normal and still far from the protected forest area. However, it will all depend on the result of investigation conducted by the special team.

If the felling activities are proven to expand to the protected forest area, stern actions will be imposed on PT BG which is led by former chief of the Malulu environment office Habel Akywen and other persons backing up the illegal business.

"Whoever involved in the illegal logging as well as protecting and backing up the company`s illegal logging operation will face stiff measures based on the prevailing regulations," the governor said.

In the meantime, the Jambi provincial administration was also serious in dealing with illegal logging in the province. The provincial police involving the security profession unit have been tracing policemen who allegedly back up illegal logging in the province.

Provincial Police Chief Brig.Gen. Carel Risakotta said the Jambi police were serious in dealing with illegal logging, and thus whoever found to be involved in such illicit practice would face severe actions under the prevailing law and regulations.

"The operation to wipe out illegal logging by involving various task forces including the security profession unit will take actions against persons including policemen who are found to be involved in such illegal conduct," he said.

If a member of the Jambi police is found to be involved in such a criminal act, he or she must get punishment under civil law and sanction as a police personnel by demoting, revoking his or her official position or dismissing him or her, Carel said. If a culprit is found to be from another unit, he or she will be sent back to his or her unit but remain to be questioned under civil law, he added.

He pointed out that the Jambi police continued to deploy well-trained and armed troops who were tracing illegal loggers along rivers and through junggles to stop their illegal activities.

The thousands of seized logs consisted of 1,706 logs found on land and 885 logs found in rivers, he said, adding that the police also seized two units of heavy-duty equipment, one chainsaw and seven trucks as evidence.

Vice President M Jusuf Kalla has expressed hope the police can arrest more suspected illegal loggers who had damaged Indonesian forests and brought sufferings to the people.

"We thank the police as they have arrested many persons suspected of being illegal loggers, and we hope there will be more arrests," the Vice President said when opening the 4th Indonesian Forestry Congress recently.

According to the Vice President, the arrest of persons found to have committed illegal logging was of great importance for the future of the Indonesian people and the country`s environment. "The measures should be taken so that we will no longer be known as a `haze exporter` and as a country of floods," the Vice President said. (*)

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