Illegal sawmill shut down

KUALA LUMPUR - Operations at an illegal sawmill in Batu 12, Cheras here, which had been raking in profit in millions of ringgit since it started operation 25 years ago, ended yesterday.

A raid by Selangor Forestry Department and Putrajaya Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission at 11am saw enforcement officers seizing the factory's machinery and its premises sealed.

Selangor Forestry Department senior assistant director (enforcement) Mohd Yussainy Md Yusop said the operator had been given a chance to apply for licence last year, but failed to do so.

"We have given the operator an application form for a licence during our previous check, but in today's raid, we found the form only half-filled," he said, adding that the operator's business only focused on processing timber from other companies.

He said initial investigations revealed that the company, which hired 12 foreign workers, was only registered with the Companies Commission last year.

"From the size of its operation, we believe the operator could rake in more than RM500,000 every month."

Yussainy said under the Wood-Based Industry Enactment, a factory processing timber products was required to obtain a licence from the department.

It is learnt that the 11 Banglade- shis hired by the operator received a monthly salary of more than RM2,000 (S$818), while their supervisor, also a Bangladeshi, was paid between RM3,000 and RM4,000.

The New Straits Times followed the operation and saw hundreds of logs waiting to be processed while piles of processed woods were taken away in two lorries.

The enforcement officers also found out that the operator had been dumping its industrial waste into a river next to the factory.

The raiding party later checked on two other sawmill factories in Broga, Semenyih.

However, one of the factories had a valid licence while another was waiting for its application to be approved.

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