Sarawak passes Forests Bill, ups penalties to RM1mil fine and 10 years' jail

Timber thieves will face heftier fines and jail terms when a new Forests Ordinance comes into force in Sarawak.

Among others, the illegal export of logs under the Forests Bill 2015 is punishable by a fine of RM100,000 to RM500,000 and up to five years’ imprisonment, or a fine of up to RM1mil and 10 years’ jail for subsequent offences.

Those guilty of not paying royalties or fees will be fined not less than RM25,000, jailed up to a year and ordered to pay the government a sum of not less than 10 times the royalty or fee chargeable on the timber in question.

Previously, the penalty for illegally exporting logs was imprisonment of between one and five years and a RM50,000 fine, while that for revenue offences was one year’s jail and a fine of RM2,000.

The Bill was passed by the State Legislative Assembly Wednesday to repeal and replace the existing Forests Ordinance 1953.

It follows the crackdown on illegal logging and corruption in the timber industry announced by Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem some months ago.

Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, who tabled the Bill, said it was aimed to eliminate illegal logging and to promote sustainable forest management.

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