KUALA LUMPUR: Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau has denied he had proposed that a branch of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) be set up in Sabah.
Tangau, in an off-the-cuff speech at a function in Kota Kinabalu last week, only suggested that FRIM set up a division that specialised in looking after the Acacia Mangium within the ambit of the institute, his press secretary Chris Maskilone said in a statement here today.
Maskilone said the suggestion was made due to the huge acreage of Acacia Mangium plantations in Sabah and Sarawak, with Sabah having 63,980 hectares or about 26.8 per cent of the plantation forests in the state and Sarawak, about 236,936 hectares.
“With such a huge acreage, Madius believed it was only apt that a dedicated division be set up within FRIM to provide assistance should anything happen to endanger the entire acacia plantation,” he said.
He said Tangau said this when opening the ‘Technology Transfer Workshop on Value-adding the Acacia Lumber from Sabah – A Community Project’ by the Sabah Timber Industries Association (STIA) funded by the ministry last week.
Tangau, who was formerly chairman of the Malaysian Timber Industry Board, expressed his concern over the acacia planted in Sabah because many of the trees were being turned into pulp rather than being used for making furniture.
“He regretted that an innocent proposal to assist the local furniture manufacturers had been spun into a political issue,” said Maskilone. – BERNAMA