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HomeWorldSamling Group’s Response To Scoop’s Article Dated 20th May 2021

Samling Group’s Response To Scoop’s Article Dated 20th May 2021

3 June 2021, Miri, Sarawak – We refer to the post
published on Scoop official website on 20th May 2021 titled
“Indigenous Communities Lodge Official Complaint Against
Malaysian Timber Giant Samling”. The article was based on
a post on the Bruno Manser Fonds website which contained
allegations made against the Samling Group in relation to
the Gerenai and Ravenscourt Forest Management Units or FMUs.
The post called into question the certification of the two
FMUs by the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC),
alleging “many discrepancies between the certification
requirements and its implementation”.

At the outset,
Samling would like to state clearly and firmly that the
allegations contained in the post were false and lacked any
shred of credibility or truth. The allegations have not only
tarnished unfairly Samling’s image but have also brought
into serious question the good reputations of both MTCC and
of the certifying body, SIRIM QAS International Sdn Bhd.
Additionally, the allegations belittle the value of forest
management certification and the integrity of the Programme
for the Endorsement of Forest Certification

The allegations made in the post by BMF and
Borneo Project (BP) have been repeated despite due
clarification published by the MTCC itself on 13th August
2020, entitled ‘Commentary: Processes Involved in Granting
Certification Under the MTCS’, where the MTCC clarified
that Samling had indeed satisfactorily fulfilled all the
requisite certification requirements.

Samling also
wishes to clarify that the certification process for the
Gerenai and Ravenscourt FMUs was done in accordance with all
requirements of the Malaysian Timber Certification
Scheme’s Malaysian Criteria & Indicators, which have
been endorsed by the PEFC, and are therefore compliant with
international certification standards.

Part of this
certification process involves the submission of 3rd party
Economic Impact Assessment (EIA) and Social Impact
Assessment (SIA) reports – both of which were duly
complied with by Samling. The scope the EIA report is under
the purview of the Natural Resources and Environment Board
(NREB) of Sarawak and not Samling. It is a requirement of
the NREB that part of the EIA report must be put up for
public display in the FMUs’ offices.

The findings of
the SIA are communicated to the communities – usually by
the consultant responsible for the assessment – either by
a visit to an individual community or at a meeting held for
a group of communities. Contrary to what was alleged in the
BMF post, Samling has not received any formal request to
share neither the EIA Report nor the SIA report. Thus, to
allege that Samling has refused to release these reports is
totally untrue, and to say they were not made available to
the communities is also incorrect.

This practice of
lobbing baseless accusation after baseless accusation
without any regard for truth or fact, is a practice that is
unfortunate. Publishing groundless accusations based on
false information does little good for the communities these
NGOs purport to support, and

can in fact cause damage
to the processes that have been put in place by Samling for
the upliftment of the communities involved.

values constructive engagement with the communities and has
carried out numerous community engagements on its own
initiative, which have already been reported by the

Samling’s own internal Standard Operating
Procedures involve direct and comprehensive engagement
between the Group’s liaison officers and the local
communities to ensure there is full understanding and
agreement of any proposed harvesting activity in areas that
lie close to, or overlap with, community lands recognised
under the law. This is done before the start of any
harvesting operations and holds true also for the Gerenai
and Ravenscourt FMUs.

Samling understands and respects
the community’s dependence on forest produce and has
neither denied the importance of the forest to their
livelihood nor wilfully caused damage to forests that are
used by the communities as food sources. At the same time,
Samling also believes in the empowerment of local
communities so that they can discern for themselves their
rights and the responsibilities of the Samling Group, and
engage directly with Group instead of through NGOs who claim
to speak for the communities.

To help achieve this,
Samling has embarked on numerous community projects which
are aimed not only at the economic uplifting of the
communities, but more importantly at the educational
uplifting of their children and future generations. These
projects include roads, bridges, schools and medical
assistance particularly Covid related medical support,
testing and other equipment and facilities.

At a time
when many were unable to source for income or food, Samling
provided 20,000 packs of essential food packs comprising of
rice, sugar, cooking oil, flour, biscuits and noodles for
rural communities in Baram, Layun, Lawas, Mayeng, Lana and
the urban poor in Miri. Samling also runs a bursary scheme
for students from 51 Primary and 7 Secondary

Samling has been present in rural Sarawak for
many decades and has been a key partner of the state
government in providing roads, education and healthcare
facilities to these areas. The over 10,000km of various
categories of roads and 81 bridges built and maintained by
Samling have provided a lifeline for rural communities in
seeking medical treatment as well as education for the
children and business activities. The Group is also the main
source of employment for most of these communities, which
make up over 80% of the manpower for the Group’s main
upstream operational areas.

Samling will always
maintain its integrity as a responsible corporate citizen by
adhering to all the relevant laws and regulations that have
been imposed by the State and Federal authorities. Samling
accepts fair criticism and scrutiny as part and parcel of
the corporate world but it will not accept baseless and
false accusations hurled against the Group and will continue
to speak up to defend its reputation and

© Scoop Media


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