Author: Anastasha Arlene Junigo of Forest Resource Department; Published Date: 18th August 2022

“Today marks a very proud day in the story of Sapulut Forest Development,”

announced Mr.Bryant Wong, Sapulut’s General Manager, on the morning of the 25th of July 2022. It was a once in a blue moon honor for Sapulut to host a visit by the Sabah Chief Minister, Yang Amat Berbahagia Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Bin Haji Noor, who was invited to officiate the opening of Sapulut’s nursery in an inauguration ceremony.

It was important for elected committee members to put together an event that was not only successful in meeting its objectives but also authentic in terms of atmosphere, so every major role was carried by Sapulut’s own members with guidance and advice from the Senior Assistant of the Chief Conservator of Forest. In addition, village heads of settlements surrounding FMU14 were also invited to witness the Chief Minister himself, and field staff who hailed from these villages were also allowed to stand in front of the grand audience to share the benefits they gained after years of service to the land and the prospects they foresee in Sapulut, all of them noting how they were able to provide for their families in a secure job while staying close to their village.

Light afternoon rain preceded the arrival of the Chief Minister and his entourage, offering a fresh relief from the sun’s intense glare that morning. Then it gradually wavered just as the stream of vehicles carrying the honored guests arrived through the gates. Staff members aligned after the steps up to the forestry complex building to welcome the ministers as they were ushered towards the open hall. The event began with an opening speech by Sapulut’s Managing Director, Mr.Norman Wong, who highlighted the achievements of the team throughout the recent pandemic and the significance of teamwork towards achieving the sustainable forest management goals of balancing social, environmental, and economy to make Industrial Tree Plantations (ITP) a successful venture.

Mr.Norman also alluded to the new crisis of high energy and labour costs faced by forestry players in the wake of inflation aggravated by geopolitical conflicts. However, with the 17th of January 2022 announcement of the ITP policy by the Chief Minister, Mr. Norman expressed a positive outlook that ITPs will play an equal part in the state’s natural forest management strategy as it will produce more sustainable timber to supply enough raw materials to the economic value chain. He ended his speech by ensuring the chief minister, “With a productive ITP and economic value chain, the ITP policy will provide 80,000 employment and achieve a GDP of 12 billion by 2035 or even sooner if started right and done well.”

After the speech, the chief minister was invited to the stage to sign the Sapulut guestbook and accept a memento from Mr.Norman before the event shifted to the nursery site, where the chief minister officially opened the nursery by revealing a commemorative plaque. After a brisk walk around the nursery to observe the seedlings, the chief minister cordially parted from the forestry complex, followed by the rest of the guests. The coordination and communication between staff members of multiple departments throughout the preparations of this event truly championed the theme of the event and the Sapulut core value of, “It takes a team to win.”