A blockade banner erected by the natives that read 'Samling don't rob the resources of poor people and give them to the rich in towns' (File photo)

OSLO, NORWAY — Norwegian Government Pension Fund, has sold all its shares in Malaysian timber giant Samling Global, worth US$1.2mil (RM3.7mil) according to Reuters report on Monday.

Norwegian Ministry of Finance said it had excluded Malaysia’s timber giant Samling Global based on the environmental impact of its forest operations in Malaysia and Guyana.

Norwegian Finance Minister, Sigbjorn Johnsen

“The Council on Ethics has assessed Samling Global, and concluded that the company’s forest operations in the rainforests of Sarawak and Guyana contribute to illegal logging and severe environmental damage,” Johnsen said.

In an immediate response to the news, the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) said “they welcomes the decision of the Norwegian Government and calls on investors, finance institutions and timber traders worldwide to follow the Norwegian example and cut their business ties with Samling Global.”

“We also express our gratitude to the Rainforest Foundation Norway for having brought up this issue with the Norwegian authorities,” the Penan-linked foreign NGO added.

The Norwegian government decision also likely to further tarnished Sarawak government image abroad, which already being severly bruised by the recent demonstration in London.

Samling, was founded by Datuk Yaw Teck Seng in 1963. His close ties with the state party leaders including with former Sarawak Chief Minister Tun Abdul Rahman Yakub and his successor Taib Mahmud – led to his timber business expanding rapidly from its humble beginning.

From 1976-1993, the booming period of logging industry in Sarawak, the company was awarded concessionaires by the state government to extract its most valuable treasure – its tropical timber – over vast areas of the state.

The concessionaires help fuel Samling growth over the decades to become one of Malaysia’s timber giants. On Jun 27, 2005 Samling Global was incorporated as the company need to tap into bigger capital market to grow.

Two years after its incorporation, in 2007, Samling Global stock finally listed at Hong Kong Stock Exchange.