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  Today Online 19 Dec 06
M'sia wants action against illegal logging

Yahoo News 18 Dec 06
Malaysia firms under fire over environment

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysia must act against its timber and plantation firms operating in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, which are destroying the environment and abusing human rights, activists said.

Friends of the Earth Malaysia and 10 other environmental groups from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea said the Malaysian companies were guilty of "irresponsible and reprehensible practices".

"It should not only be the responsibility of the host countries to deal with rogue companies, but the Malaysian government should also take responsibility," they said in a statement.

Meena Raman from Friends of the Earth Malaysia said there had been little response from governments to investigations which uncovered abuses.

"The companies are very powerful and the governments of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea don't seem to be able to tackle the issue," Raman told AFP.

Malaysian companies dominate the logging industry in Papua New Guinea, with one company owing five of 12 major logging projects there, the activists said.

A report by conservationists and lawyers in Papua New Guinea and Australia released earlier this year found Malaysian companies contaminated food and water sources, while landowners were left in the dark about the terms under which companies take over land.

Companies also destroyed cultural and grave sites and presided over the harassment of local communities in forest areas, they said.

In Indonesia, Malaysian firms are responsible for widespread illegal logging, the groups said, citing a wanted list of 16 Malaysians released by Indonesian police in 2005.

Malaysia and Indonesia are the world's top producers of palm oil, and the groups also alleged that 10 Malaysian-owned palm oil companies were illegally using fire to clear forest for plantations in Indonesia. Illegal burning causes the haze which blankets parts of Southeast Asia each year, causing ill-health and losses to industries like the tourism sector.

Malaysia "owes a moral obligation to the people of PNG and Indonesia to ensure that its companies behave responsibly," the groups said.

Today Online 19 Dec 06
M'sia wants action against illegal logging

JAKARTA Malaysian plantation firms which openly burn their crops, or engage in illegal logging in Indonesia must be dealt with severely, according to Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.

"We must take action against anyone who flouts the law. We do not want Malaysian companies to be involved in open burning and illegal logging. We will tag them as rogue companies," Mr Najib was quoted as saying by the Kompas newspaper.

"We must take tough action against such firms," he added.

In October, various parts of Malaysia suffered "unhealthy" levels of haze because of smoke from land-clearing fires in Indonesia. Farmers in Indonesia burn forests annually to clear land for agriculture, causing a haze that spreads across South-east Asia during the dry season, increasing health problems.

Malaysia and Indonesia have outlawed land clearing by fire but weak enforcement means the ban is largely ignored. AFP

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