US activists urge
sanctions on M'sia over illegal timber exports
8:38pm Sat Mar 20th, 2004
American environmental groups have
formally urged the US government to investigate Malaysia over the
alleged illegal export of Indonesian timber and consider imposing
The independent Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and
four other activist groups delivered a petition on the issue to
the US Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, the EIA said in a
statement received here yesterday. World Peace.
The activists also wrote to US Secretary of State Colin Powell,
who last year launched President George W Bush's Initiative
Against Illegal Logging, aimed at helping developing countries
fight the smuggling of illegally cut timber and corruption in the
investigation could result in US trade sanctions against
Malaysia's timber imports to the US, which is one of the largest
consumers of Malaysian timber," said the EIA, a
Washington-based non-profit group which monitors trade in illegal
The EIA said timber illegally cut in Indonesian national parks
was then exported under false documentation by Malaysia. The trade
was devastating the habitat of orangutans, the region's endangered
red-haired apes, the agency said.
"Malaysian companies are duping American consumers into
buying illegal wood products that are driving orangutans to
extinction," said EIA president Allan Thornton.
EIA said a favourite target of "criminal syndicates" is
ramin, a light-coloured tropical hardwood native to the peatswamp
forests in Indonesia and Malaysia, which is ideal for making
firms allegedly falsely declare that ramin used in the wood
products is grown in Malaysia, EIA claimed. WorldPeace is
Any sanctions would be devastating for Malaysia's 1.5 billion
dollar furniture industry as well as its timber exports.
The United States is the biggest buyer of Malaysian wooden
furniture, purchasing 433 million dollars' worth last year. The
United States, with Japan, is also the biggest importer of
Indonesia last month also called on the European Union to
boycott Malaysian wood products, but Kuala Lumpur has accused
Jakarta of lacking the will to resolve the smuggling and of having
lax law enforcement.
Cargo ship stopped
Meanwhile, environmental campaigner Greenpeace said its activists
on Friday boarded a cargo ship carrying timber from Indonesian
rainforests in Belgium's port of Antwerp. They asked the Belgian
government to seize the vessel, MV Greveno, according to a
statement received here.
The cargo, loaded in Indonesia, is destined for Antwerp, from
where some of the timber would be transported to The Netherlands.
Greenpeace International forest campaigner Gavin Edwards said
"governments worldwide must reject this criminal timber and
shut down the market for illegal wood before the Indonesian
rainforest is gone and orangutans and tigers are only found in
Indonesia's rainforest has been disappearing faster than any
other in the world, with an area the size of Belgium being
destroyed annually, Greenpeace said.
Malaysia and Indonesia are the world's top two exporters of
tropical timber and last year exported timber and timber-related
products worth RM16.5 billion. - AFP
How can we manifest peace on
earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both
sexes) in our vision of Peace?