Forest Policy in Malaysia
Malaysia has numerous natural resources, the part of which is the tropical rainforest. The exploitation of these resources has ignited controversies because of its possible impact on the environment. The government perceives it as a genuine economic venture while environmentalists see it as an ecological disaster that is likely to happen. This essay answers to questions of the Malaysian case study on the country’s forest policy and its relationship with economic and political systems.
The Malaysian economic performance in the last ten years has been excellent given that the economy has grown at 5.9% per annum. The growth rate has made the country’s leadership predict that it might achieve the status of a developed country within a 30 years period (Reinhardt, 1992). The political performance has also been commendable given that there has been stability in the last decade. Although the ethnic-oriented political parties are not ideal according to other democratic societies, they fulfill the needs of the country’s politics and society.
The success of the political and economic systems comes from a variety of factors. The presence of numerous natural resources has promoted the economic growth. Since the exportation of timber and its products is significant to the country’s economy, the tropical rainforest has boosted its trade. Additionally, the diversification of the economy into the manufacturing sector has reduced risks and, thus, provided economic stability. The success of Malaysia’s political emanates from the parliamentary system that promotes the accommodative constitution of the government (Dhillon, 2009). The ethnic-based political parties make people feel represented well, thus having no need to create tensions that may jeopardize political stability.
In the coming decade, the natural resources will still play a vital role in the country’s development agenda. Although the economy is becoming diversified, most of the emerging industries depend on natural resources such as timber. Others such as Intel may prompt the government to consider mining explorations for raw materials that such technology-based companies may need for their manufacturing.
In the Malaysian forest product sector, there is an increase in vertical integration. The government encourages this process so that the country can get increased value from its forest resources (Dhillon, 2009). Instead of exporting raw materials such as timber, the government encourages local production of finished goods by reducing taxes for those who adhere to the policy. The government also banned the exportation of unprocessed logs. Such an approach offsets discriminatory tariffs by developed countries. Despite the encouragement from the government, some parts of the country such as Sarawak continue to export logs because they lack the capacity to develop processing plants rapidly.
The perception of whether forest loss in Sarawak is a problem or not depends on various perspectives as it is evident in the following discussion. According to Sarawak Chief Minister, the loss of the forest is not that significant (Reinhardt, 1992). The Minister thinks that the current logging and deforestation are sustainable, and there is no need to worry. However, the Minister’s perception may be biased because he is a direct beneficiary of the process. The view of the Malaysian Prime Minister on the deforestation issue is that the controversy is a result of different outlooks and cultures between his country and western nations. The Prime Minister’s viewpoint became evident when he was contemplating on his speech to the United Nations General Assembly. His opinion indicated that other countries did not see the Malaysian side of the debate because they had a different outlook that was influenced by their cultures. From the perspective of the United States president, the loss of forest in Malaysia would be a problem. The United States has championed for environmental protection in many of its trade deals with foreign countries. For instance, the country banned tuna imports from countries that used methods that harmed dolphins (Prewitt, 1993). The head of the western environmental groups would view the deforestation as a serious violation of environmental protection duties. The groups think the forest at Sarawak is a valuable biodiverse resource that can help humankind. Since Malaysia started exploiting its forest resources, the groups have been promoting environmental consideration and changes of policy in the country.
Each of the above-discussed people would advocate for varying changes in regulation and property rights to regulate deforestation in Sarawak. Sarawak‘s Chief Minister would support the enactment of laws at the state level that allocates considerable resources in the fight against illegal logging. The Malaysian Prime Minister would use his power to prevail over members of parliament to create property ownership laws that prohibit family members of a government official from transacting with the government when the member is still serving. Such a regulation would prevent scenarios such as that in Sarawak where the Chief Minister can allocate logging rights to family members at will, which prevents him from enforcing laws limiting deforestation levels effectively. The United States president would ensure that any trade deals with Malaysia involving forest products follow the environmental protection laws such as the NAFTA agreement to compel Malaysia to consider internal laws that are responsive to the environmental concerns. The head of the western environmental groups would lobby for parliaments in various countries to pressure Malaysia to create laws consistent with global environmental protection standards.
In conclusion, both the political and economic performance of Malaysia in the last decade was excellent because of stability and steady growth. Natural resources and democracy played a vital role in the growth and are likely to influence development in the next decade. Vertical integration is the main activity taking place in the forest product sector. Various stakeholders view the forest loss in Sarawak differently because of their diverse roles. As such, even the probable regulation changes that may be proposed depend on the duties of officials and external factors.