Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 230
“I’m sorry” a voice crackled through the walkie-talkie radio. ” I tried to dry your slippers by the fire, but part of them melted.” This carefully chosen birthday present from my Mum had only arrived two weeks ago. When I pulled them up on the rope and looked at those crinkled up slippers, I felt like crying. “This is ridiculous!“ I thought to myself… “am I really crying about a pair of slippers?” But I knew in reality it wasn’t about that, it was the accumulation of eight months worth of loneliness, frustration, isolation. Of missing my family and friends. Of the monotony of every day confined to a small platform. And most of all, of looking out across this valley not knowing if tomorrow I will hear the sound of chainsaws and lose this forest forever. As I sat there in the rain, my usual optimism began to wane, as I thought to myself, “Can I really keep doing this?”
How do I go from this moment of feeling like I just can’t cope… to finding the strength it will take to continue this vital action on behalf of these forests? Well, my courage came in the form of a youtube clip. I know that might sound as bizarre as crying over a pair of burnt slippers! But, it’s true. Because watching an interview online with an Indigenous man from Sarawak put everything into perspective for me.
The Sarawak man being interviewed by Canadian news program “16×9″ remained anonymous, for fear of the repercussions of speaking out. He had been involved in peaceful community protest against the logging of the forests that his people depend on for their very survivali. And so, if I am ever missing home comforts… I will remember what people in Sarawak will go without if logging continues to decimate their lands.
And if I ever feel lonely here… I will remember what many people around the world may face for taking a stand. Here I may be alone, but I have my phone and computer to connect to the world, support crew on the ground and a beautiful forest. Compare this to solitary confinement in a Malaysian prison. This is what the anonymous interviewee had suffered as a result of trying to stop logging.
Logging has been going on for a long time in Sarawak by a range of different logging companies. And so has the community resistance to it.
In recent times our attention in Tasmania has turned to the role that Ta Ann have in the industry, since the Sarawak-based company branched out to establish Ta Ann Tasmania, setting up two veneer mills here.
A recent statement was released by the Indigenous Penan people, fingerprinted by the chiefs of six villages in north Sarawak that are impacted by Ta Ann’s activities. The statement named Ta Ann and raised concerns about destruction of their lands, done without prior consent or knowledge and in contravention to the legal rights of the Indigenous people.
“this area should not be re-logged as it was being logged in the past which have made our livelihood difficult especially our food resources” the statement said.
“As a result of the previous logging activities our river are now muddy where as our traditional food are depleting and it is difficult to revived/rehabilitate.”
“Because of that, our present here are to inform all the stakeholders that we with one voice that we don’t accept any type of logging to take place within our Native Customary Rights Land.”
Sometimes people criticise my action by saying “Why don’t you go to Borneo instead?” But the fact is that destruction in Tasmania’s forests and the loss of Sarawak’s forests are both devastating and intricately linked.
It is clear that Ta Ann came to Tasmania in order to give environmental credibility t0 their company on an international level. After interviewing CEO Wong, it was reported in the Malaysian media “Due to Japan’s adoption of an eco-friendly lifestyle this will benefit resource-based group Ta Ann Holdings Bhd. Ta Ann stands to benefit as it has a 20-year log purchase agreement with Forestry Tasmania.”ii The misrepresentation of Tasmanian timber as “eco” friendly has implications both in Tasmania and Sarawak.
Right now Ta Ann’s “eco-ply” contains wood from forests that have been verified as world heritage and national heritage value by government-endorsed independent teams of scientific experts, and recommended for protection. In fact, it has been officially documented that this company is one of the key drivers of destruction in those forests. The timber produced from Ta Ann Tasmania does not comply with the guidelines for sustainable forestry that overseas customers expect” iii. You just have to scroll down the page on my website to see some of the amazing forests that have been or are due to be logged for Ta Ann.iv
There is no doubt that what happens here in Tasmania will have repercussions in Sarawak. Ta Ann can use their so-called Tasmanian “eco” wood to present themselves on the international market as good corporate citizens. Thereby glossing over the destruction of forests and disregard for indigenous rights elsewhere. Tasmania and the globally community must stand in solidarity with the people of Sarawak, by exposing the truth about Ta Ann’s activities in both places.
Please help by clicking HERE to send a message to the corporate customers of Ta Ann.
Take a look at this short film about Ta Ann:
References and links:
ii Ng, J., (2010) Corporate: Eco-products to be Ta Ann’s focus for 2010, in The Edge Malaysia, http://www.theedgemalaysia.com/http://www.theedgemalaysia.com/ features/167156-corporate-eco-products-to-be-ta-anns-focus-for-2010.html
iiiHVEC (2011) Behind the Veneer: Forest destruction and Ta Ann Tasmania’s Lies. P12
iv Hoffmann, O. & Williams, D. Report Of Independent Expert Schedulers Appointed Under the Tasmanian Forests Intergovernmental Agreement, 12th October 2011