Ta Ann dismisses HVEC report as misleading, generic and biased

Ta Ann has dismissed the HVEC report (March, 2012) as deliberately misleading. Ta Ann Holdings Berhad has rejected claims put forward by the report and believes the report to be defamatory. Ta Ann is committed to sustainable and environmentally sound business practice and has worked to ensure that all operations comply with the WWF Malaysia standards.

Growing For The Future

Ta Ann’s Annual report 2010 states it commitment to sustainable management:

Pursuant to our forestry policy and the Memorandum of Understanding (‘MoU’) signed with WWF Malaysia in Global Forest and Trade Network (‘GFTN’), the Group set up a Sustainable Management Committee (‘SME’) which consists of our senior management from cross-functional areas for the implementation of forest sustainable and forest management.

The term of reference for the SME include:

(a) To review and monitor the Group’s commitment towards sustainable management of natural resources under our care;

(b) To assess the areas for compliance to the legal requirements of Environment Impact Assessment (‘EIA’);

(b) To consider carefully of High Conservation Values (‘HCVs’) and biodiversity attributes in order to ensure that the conservation of a wide gene pool of natural resources availability;

(c) To identify and implement corrective actions taken in areas of non-compliances and submit annual reports to the committee for assessment and review; and

(e) To consider studies and measures that may enhance the Group’s sustainable management of the natural resources.

Executive Summary

This report by HVEC (March, 2012) should be dismissed as deliberately misleading by attempting to link generic evidence and images to the sustainable activities of Ta Ann in Sarawak and its subsidiary Ta Ann Tasmania in Australia.

Its claims are flawed and are REJECTED.

The report features many photographs from the National Geographic Magazine from August 1998 and November 2008. It neither acknowledges this source nor does it declare the funders of the report. These National Geographic photos are used as ‘evidence’ yet how they are linked to Ta Ann is not stated. The report quotes many references including information published by Ta Ann in its annual reports and other publications. Yet it cherry picks or quotes out of context, or ignores statements made by the Company. The report quotes unproven claims of human rights abuse, many unrelated to Ta Ann, and many that have been addressed in critiques of publications by activist groups that are quoted with in the HVEC report.

Defamation in Australia

Material will be defamatory if it could:

1. injure the reputation of the individual by exposing them to hatred, contempt or ridicule;

2. cause people to shun or avoid the individual; or

3. lower the individual’s estimation by right thinking members of society
However, under the uniform Defamation Law introduced by Australian States in 2006, corporations with 10 or more employees cannot sue and gain relief from the Courts. This booklet seeks to counter these defamatory claims.

Ta Ann Holdings Berhad

Ta Ann rejects the HVEC report’s key findings as FALSE:

Ta Ann’s operations comply with laws and environmental practices; they do not cause significant environmental destruction or displacement of indigenous people.

Ta Ann Holdings has not profited from human rights abuses and environmental degradation in Sarawak.

Ta Ann rejects as misleading two other key findings related to the sustainable harvest within the Heart of Borneo area and in relation to harvesting in areas that are either actual or likely ranges of endangered species. Ta Ann’s partnership with the WWF’s GFTN ensures that harvesting fully accounts for endangered species.

The report also quotes extensively from activist publications from the Bruno Manser Funds, Sarawak Report, Friends of the Earth and Global Witness. The report also relies on unproven claims made on Sarawak Free Radio, an activist radio station founded by Clare Rewcastle.

These groups are not independent but environmental lobby groups and activists that network with green groups such as the HVEC. Their reports are not peer reviewed; instead they repeat unchallenged claims made in similar ENGO reports.

Claims of Human rights abuse or corruption made on Clare Rewcastle’s Sarawak Report or Sarawak Free Radio whilst rejected should be referred the appropriate authorities, where Ta Ann can properly provide detailed evidence to dispute such claims.

Yet many of the claims made in these reports have been addressed by authorities and by Ta Ann, yet the HVEC ignores the flaws within these activist reports. Photos and allegations used in the report are similar to those used to promote the visit of Clare Rewcastle to Tasmania by Senator Bob Brown.

Facts About Ta Ann
Corporate Mission: To excel in sustainable development of resources by way of value maximization and waste minimization for benefits of all our stakeholders and the community at large.

Ta Ann was listed in the Main Board of Bursa Malaysia on 23rd November 1990 as TA ANN.

In 2010, Ta Ann employs 7,029 people. Providing the basic human right of a job!

Ta Ann’s Sustainable Management Policy

1) Compliance to Laws & Regulations:

Complying with applicable local, national and internationally rectified laws, regulations and policies in relation to forest operations, forest plantations and oil palm plantations

2) Operating in Legally Accorded Areas:

Operating only in areas with legally accorded right of use

3) No Illegal Logging or Logs Input:

Prohibiting illegal logging in forest areas and the use of illegal timber as raw material input to mills

4) Rights of Local Communities:

Recognizing and managing the customary rights, use rights and social facets of the local communities through open, consultative and participatory relationships

5) Workers’ Rights & Training:

Recognizing workers’ rights, providing education and training for continual skill development and improvement of forest operation

6) Forest Management Plan:

Formulating and implementing forest management plan compatible with best logging practices for long term sustainable supply of commercial timber

7) Environmental & Social Impact Assessment:

Complying with the regulatory requirements, mitigating measures and Environmental Impact Assessment while excluding environmentally sensitive areas from operation

8) No Conversion of RAMSAR Peat Forest:

No conversion of forest areas classified as RAMSAR Wetland Convention and / or identified as HCVF

9) Safety & Health:

Promoting safe and healthy work practices and work environment

10) High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF):

Identify, managing, conserving and enhancing the High Conservation Value Forest (HCVF)

An example of Ta Ann’s commitment to maintain HCV forests is reflected in the attached map of a HCVF survey.

Unsubstantiated Allegations By Hvec
1) Cover Page

Portrait of Jari Manis, a wild adult male orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) at Gunung Palung National Park Indonesia.

Totally unrelated to Ta Ann

Ta Ann does not harvest timber from National Parks

Ta Ann does not harvest timber in Indonesia

Ta Ann joined Orang Utan adoption program in year 2009

An Orang Utan adopted by Ta Ann

2) Page 3: Salak River in Sarawak

Salak River in Sarawak. This area is an example of prime Proboscis Monkey habitat – Tim
Laman.

Totally unrelated to Ta Ann

3) Page 4/5: Danum Valley
Forest legislation in Sarawak provides inadequate protection for the valuable forests of
Sarawak as demonstrated by this photo of legal logging in the Danum Valley Conservation Area. – Mattias Klum

Totally unrelated to Ta Ann

Danum Valley is in Sabah NOT SARAWAK

Google map shows that Danum Valley is in Sabah

4) Page 9: Land Clearance

Land cleared for oil palm plantations creates a patchwork of scars across what was once Sarawak’s majestic forest. Mattias Klum

No indication how this relates to Ta Ann

5) Page 11: Penan

Sarawak has many indigenous ethnic groups, such as the Penan, that occupy ancestral lands in the province’s rainforests. The forests are a source of food, medicine and water, while being a place of great cultural and spiritual significance.

Totally unrelated to Ta Ann

The Truth – How Ta Ann works together with Society

As a good corporate citizen, we fulfill our responsibility by taking proactive approaches to the social contribution activities and the conservation of our natural environment. We hold ourselves to the highest standard of ethical conduct through fair, transparent and accountable corporate activities in order to create a better society.

6) Page 12&16: Human Rights – Unproven and Wrong Information

Claims of Human rights abuse or corruption made on Clare Rewcastle’s Sarawak
Report or Sarawak Free Radio whilst rejected should be referred the appropriate authorities, where Ta Ann can properly provide detailed evidence to dispute such claims.

HVEC claims in the report that, Ta Ann’s oil palm developments have involved the displacement of indigenous people from traditional lands. Ta Ann have been granted 9,491 acres for oil palm development in the Silas NCR Land Development Area in Bintulu. An Indigenous member of the Iban from the village of Rumah Jupiter, the area under Lot 97 disputed in High Court case. [Made in Marcus Colchester, Wee Aik Pang, Wong Meng Chuo and Thomas Jalong, 2007. Land is Life. Land Rights and Oil Palm Development in Sarawak].

Claims about Grand Perfect have been modified after being exposed as false when
made in Tasmania by Baru Bian last year at a media event with the Greens. Baru Bian (Middle) last year at media event with the Greens.

FALSE!

Land Lot No.97 in the Silas – Sebauh NCR Project in Bintulu belongs to Liili Anak Bali of Rumah Gawan – NOT Rumah Jupiter as wrongly alleged by HVEC

The chieftain of Rumah Gawan is a supporter and the Assistant Secretary of the Area Development Committee (ADC) of Ta Ann Pelita Silas – Sebauh NCR project

Natives participation in NCR projects is PURELY VOLUNTARY

Government Agency Pelita acts as trustee to the natives

Written agreements are obtained from willing natives before any land is developed

Claims made must be scrutinised by appropriate authorities and fully tested before being treated as credible.

7) Page 16&17: Plantation

Example of an oil palm plantation that stretches to the horizon in Sarawak. Ta Ann’s oil palm plantation bank covers 66 681ha. – Mattias Klum

No indication how this relates to Ta Ann

Plantation provides jobs

8) Page 19: Back Cover

The land is strip clear then burnt to make way for a new oil palm plantation. – Mattias
Klum

No indication how this relates to Ta Ann

9) Page 20: Proboscis Monkey

An adult male proboscis monkey walks through the Bako National Park. Proboscis monkey habitat is quickly disappearing due to the logging practices of companies such as Ta Ann. –
Tim Laman

Ta Ann does not harvest timber from National Park

Recommendations

Ta Ann would, as a matter of urgency, make the following recommendation to:

Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC)

• Immediately make an apology to Ta Ann for the false claims.

• Immediately make an apology to other related parties in the report for the false claims.

• Immediately cease publishing the untruthful claims about Sarawak Tasmania and on Ta Ann