Borneo's 30-Mile Logjam on Rajang River Exposes Government Corruption

A 30-mile logjam on a Malaysian river in Borneo hints at rampant deforestation and possible government corruption.


On Dot Earth, Andy Revkin links to the story of a 30-mile logjam on the Rajang River, Malaysia's longest, in the wake of some heavy rains, and wonders what it reveals about the rampant deforestation on Borneo (which is partially within Malaysia's borders). He also excerpts some solid local coverage from Mike Shanahan's Under the Banyan blog, which is well worth a read. Here's a taste:

Environment and Public Health Minister Wong Soon Koh declared the log-jam to be a “natural calamity of gigantic proportion” and blamed landslides in highland logging areas. He said: “The wooden debris which was swept away could have been accumulated there for the past 40 or more years.” ...

But many local bloggers accuse these politicians of hypocrisy. They are frustrated with the decades of government policies that have enriched a powerful elite with logging dollars but have left Sarawak with just ten percent of its forest intact.

One blogger called Tbsbidayuh summed up the mood when he wrote: “Thank you to the monsoon rain for revealing state government ignorance on taking care of environment.

The Malaysian government goes to great lengths to portray its forestry practices as some of the world's most progressive—a "leader in tropical forest conservation and products"—but this un-natural disaster doesn't seem to align with the righteous rhetoric.