Dato’ Dr Freezailah Che Yeom Inspires A Forest-Loving Society and Champions Sustainable Forestry Agenda
It was a day of mixed emotions as Malaysia’s forestry and timber industry fraternity paid tribute to Malaysian Timber Certification Council’s (MTCC) founding Chairman, Dato’ Dr Freezailah Che Yeom. His illustrious career as MTCC Chairman spanning 17 years culminated in a farewell and appreciation dinner gathering held on 27 July 2016 in Kuala Lumpur. The event was graced by YB Datuk Datu Nasrun bin Datu Mansur, the Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities.
Dato’ Dr Freezailah was appointed as the Chairman of MTCC following its establishment in 1998 as an independent organisation to develop and operate the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS).
A true blue forester at heart, Dato’ Dr Freezailah has been instrumental in inspiring a forest-loving society through his passion and involvement in championing the sustainable forestry agenda. His track record as a prominent thought leader in forestry spans beyond national borders to the global community. This was demonstrated through Dato’ Dr Freezailah’s appointment as the founding Executive Director of the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) from 1987 to 1999. As its Executive Director, Dato’ Dr Freezailah provided leadership and guided the growth and development of ITTO into a respected world organisation to promote the conservation, sustainable management and utilization of the world’s tropical forests. Upon his retirement from ITTO, he pursued his passion for sustainable forest management (SFM) through his involvement as the founding Chairman of MTCC. It was no surprise that Malaysia quickly became one of the region’s early adopters and promoters of sustainable forestry practices through the implementation of the MTCS.
“I have enjoyed a fulfilling career in a long journey as a forester serving the Forestry Department, ITTO and the MTCC over a period which spans more than five decades. I must thank my colleagues, stakeholders and all the remarkable people who have done their utmost so that our incomparable biodiversity rich forests are sustainably managed for present and future generations. With its exemplary track record, I am confident that MTCC will continue to contribute to Malaysia’s sustainable forestry agenda,” said Dato’ Dr Freezailah.
“Dato’ Dr Freezailah’s focused approach in championing SFM is truly inspiring. His tireless efforts have been crucial in advancing Malaysia’s sustainability initiatives in the fields of forestry and environment. Words cannot express our immense gratitude to him. His stellar legacy and exemplary passion is one that will continue to inspire the next generation of foresters,” commended the newly appointed MTCC Chairman, Datuk Himmat Singh.
“It has been a life time opportunity for me to have worked with a wise professional like Dato’ Dr Freezailah. His dynamic leadership over the past 17 years has raised MTCC and Malaysia’s profile as a recognisable force in driving responsible and sustainable forestry. As he embarks on the next phase of his life, we wish him only the best,” said MTCC CEO, Mr Yong Teng Koon.
The highlight of the celebration was the presentation of a special montage depicting a walk down memory lane of Dato’ Dr Freezailah’s journey at MTCC which was also captured in a special photobook prepared by the MTCC management. His role as MTCC Chairman concluded on a high note with the award from the Programme for the Endorsement for Forest Certification (PEFC) for the third highest increase in the number of certified companies through Chain of Custody (CoC) certification in 2015. The recognition underlined MTCC’s commitment in promoting responsible practices and the use of certified timber sourced from sustainably managed forest in Malaysia.
Dato’ Dr Freezailah earned a Bachelor of Science (Forestry) degree with First Class Honours and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom. He is succeeded by Datuk Himmat Singh, former Secretary General of the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities.
Celebrating Malaysia’s beloved forester. (From left) MTCC Founding Chairman, Dato’ Dr Freezailah Che Yeom receiving a special commemorative photobook from Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Datu Nasrun bin Datu Mansur; as MTCC’s recently appointed Chairman, Datuk Himmat Singh; Secretary-General of the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk M. Nagarajan; and MTCC CEO, Mr Yong Teng Koon look on.
Fond memories. (left) Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Datu Nasrun bin Datu Mansur, and MTCC Founding Chairman, Dato’ Dr Freezailah Che Yeom, looking through the commemorative photobook presented by MTCC as a memento to celebrate the Founding Chairman’s retirement after 17 years of service