“The timber industry in Sarawak is the fourth largest contributor to the State’s revenue; from January to August 2018, it had contributed RM3.6 billion in export revenue for the State. The industry also employs over 50,000 people and with the transformation plans for the industry, the number of people involved in the industry will continue to increase in the future,” stated STIDC General Manager, Tuan Haji Hashim Haji Bojet. Speaking at the STIDC 45th Anniversary dinner celebrations in Miri recently, the General Manager also pointed out that to ensure higher productivity and quality of products for the export market, STIDC had also put in place programmes to raise the human resource capabilities of the workforce in the industry and is the main agency for such leadership programmes in the State.
As a responsible corporate entity, STIDC is also heavily involved in CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) projects throughout the State, especially in schools while providing information on the industry as well as highlighting prospects for those with aspirations to join the industry in future. Foremost, the timber industry is a very dynamic one and ever changing; STIDC cannot remain static but must continue to remain active through learning, sharing experience and expertise while keeping up with the changing expectations. On a global perspective, the timber industry faces a number of challenges, which are unique and of international importance including global trade, sustainability and legality, which include illegal logging activities and illegal sales of timber products internationally. These are the on going issues which timber exporting nations like Malaysia will continuously have to face and to ensure that the industry is soundly based in long term planning for a sustainable future.
On the local front, STIDC will have to be responsive to stakeholders’ issues as well as changing environments by focussing on knowledge and expertise to stay ahead. As such, staff of STIDC must keep abreast of the paradigm shifts necessary to remain relevant in matters pertaining to sustainability and development in the industry. STIDC will continue to work with the relevant agencies and ministries to promote timber products from the State globally to further increase market share and bring additional revenue to the state. With the establishment of the planted forest initiative in Bintulu for Acacia trees, the State’s timber industry is poised to remain at the forefront of the pulp and paper products development with utilisation of modern technologies in processing. With the inputs from well researched and recognised practices, the planted forest initiative also serve as contributing to the ecological well being of the area and environment.
On the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between STIDC and FRIM (Forest Research Institute Malaysia) in2016 on bamboo planting, management and products developments, the General Manager informed that the project is centred at the Sabal Forest reserve. This is also another project, which is part of the sustainable initiative programmes by STIDC in enhancing the development of the timber industry in the State for the foreseeable future.
Transforming the timber industry
In conjunction with its 45th Anniversary celebrations, STIDC organised a dinner in Miri, Sarawak’s Resort City which was graced by the Assistant Minister for Entrepreneur and Small Medium Enterprise, Assistant Minister for E-Commerce, Datuk Haji Mohd Naroden Bin Majais. In his remarks at the dinner celebration, Datuk Naroden noted that STIDC Northern Region which is located in Miri, led the state in export of timber products amounting to RM2.3 billion which is about 65% of the State’s export for 2018 (January to August) underlying the importance of the area for the State in terms of timber earnings. Overall, for the first eight months of 2018, the value timber products export from the State amounted to RM3.6 billion, which was slightly lower than for the corresponding period in 2017, which was RM4 billion, due largely to the world economic slowdown, which also affected the timber products industry.
STIDC Miri Branch was established in 1981, about 37 years ago, with the aim of facilitating the growth of the timber industry in the Northern Region and providing assistance to industry players in the Northern Region. Majority of timber products from the Northern Region include plywood, which alone accounted for RM800 million in export value for the first eight months of 2018. Logs export were valued at RM8300 million and sawn timber products contributed RM265 million during the same period. While the export of timber products continues to be an important revenue earner for the State, the Assistant Minister also pointed out that STIDC had since 2015
While the export of timber products continues to be an important revenue earner for the State, the Assistant Minister also pointed out that STIDC had since 2015 implemented its timber industry transformation plan, which will change the structure of the industry here from one of heavy dependence on export of primary and secondary timber to one exporting high value timber products by 2030.In fact, the transformation plan envisages export earnings by 2030 to reach RM10 billion. To achieve the target set, STIDC had envisioned the setting up of six anchor companies through collaboration partnerships with primary industry players and also SMEs. Additionally, University Sarawak Malaysia (UNIMAS) has also been tasked with developing a pool of young designers for the development of the furniture and timber products in the coming years.
As part of the transformation plan, STIDC has encouraged the usage of Acacia wood as the main source of material for the industry in the coming years. The State Government had established the planting of Acacia trees in Bintulu under the Sarawak planted forest programme to provide the materials necessary for the growth of the timber industry in the coming years. The programme is a collaboration between the Government and industry players, which will ensure a steady supply of raw materials for the industry under the sustainable timber management plan.