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The logjam along the Baleh River, August 22, 2022. — Picture courtesy of the Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing’s Office
The logjam along the Baleh River, August 22, 2022. — Picture courtesy of the Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing’s Office

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KUCHING, Aug 22 — Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing today blamed irresponsible timber companies for causing a massive logjam along Baleh River in Kapit Division. 

He called for a stop to the renewing of licences of these companies operating in the upper reaches of Baleh River. 

He said the tree trunks and branches from the logging activities, which were washed into the river, have caused another long logjam.

“The logjam of the same magnitude occurred in Baleh River again, this time with possible deadlier consequences,” Masing, who is also Baleh State Assemblyman, said in a statement.

He said the first serious logjam in the headwaters of Baleh River occurred in 2010, before stretching all the way from Kapit to Sibu along Rajang River. 

He recalled that the massive amount of floating debris had choked Baleh River, making riverine transport difficult while dead fish, wildlife including crocodiles were found dead floating in the river. 

Masing, who is also the Minister for Infrastructure and Port Development, related that the Ibans residing along the Baleh River were then petrified by the previous incident. 

“So they did a special offering to pacify the gods in Ulu Baleh, whom they thought were angry at the environmental impact caused by logging activities. 

“I was involved and so were the lawmakers of Kapit Division. We thought the gods were pacified by our peace offering, but not for long,” Masing added. 

This year, he said the same thing happened with the same magnitude along Baleh River and with deadlier consequences. 

“The Iban miring (peace offering) ceremony of 2010 did not pacify the right gods, it seemed,” he said, adding that the “gods” who caused the logjam are actually human beings. 

“They are the timber concessionaires. They operate in the headwaters of Batang Baleh without any consideration for the devastating environmental impact their activity causes,” he lamented. 

“To stop this logjam from reoccurring, the timber licences for these irresponsible timber concessionaires to operate at the upper reaches of Batang Baleh should not be renewed,” Masing suggested.

“It is common knowledge that logging activities at the watershed of the Baleh dam cause siltation and thus will reduce the lifespan of the dam,” he said.

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