We are a newly formed civil society coalition who appeal to the State Government to take steps to ensure that promises made in regards to sustainable development be fulfilled through implementation of existing laws and procedures.
Sabah is an area of significant cultural heritage and biodiversity and and we must ensure that future generations are still able to benefit from this and not have to deal with environmental disasters we leave them.
We are a speaking up on behalf of Sabah, its people and future generations in the hope of obtaining Development Justice. We have named our coalition GUAS which translates to the word tree in Kadazandusun or the main trunk of the tree.
We welcome other groups to join us. Currently GUAS comprises of the following members:
- Himpunan Hijau
- Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia – JOAS
- PACOS Trust
- Sabah Environmental Protection Association – SEPA
- Sabah Women’s Action Group – SAWO
- Save Open Space Kota Kinabalu – SOS KK
Today, we would like to highlight the following issues :
- Examples of ongoing failures in existing environmental safeguards:
- The proposed Kaiduan Dam without the consent or agreement by local community. No documentation has been provided to objectively demonstrate whether or not the dam is essential in order to provide future piped water supplies for western Sabah. No concrete documents or studies have been forwarded by the responsible agencies to the community or NGOs.
- The destruction for a PEMANDU & SEDIA aquaculture project of healthy mangrove forest in Pitas, and Kudat. These mangroves areas have been utilised by local communities for their source of protein and livelihood., In Pitas land was cleared prior to the approval of the EIA (2,300 acres according to the EIA submitted). A similar situation is seen in Kudat. Both projects began before the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was approved. And there are reports of ongoing clearing outside the companies designated areas in Pitas and continued clearing in Kudat, even though the company has been compounded by the relevant government agencies. This matter has been reported to the agencies by the communities and NGOs and is still being investigated.
- The degazettement of a Class I Forest Reserve in 2013 to make way for a proposed gold mining project close to Tawau Hill Park, and surrounded by Class I Forest Reserve. The Terms of Reference (ToR) for this proposal have been rejected twice at the Panel review meetings chaired by Environmental Protection Department. A third ToR is going to be tabled at a Panel meeting on Wednesday, July 1st. Why was Forest Reserve degazetted for a proposal that lacked an EIA? With Mamut Copper Mine a lasting environmental disaster, does Sabah necessarily want another copper mine??
- The 11th Malaysian Plan 2016-2020 (11MP) was revealed by the Prime Minister in May 2015 as being pro-growth, pro-people, pro-business, environment friendly and emphasis on nation building. We applaud this statement – we are all for environmentally friendly projects but fixing environments after they are exploited and damaged is not only a costly exercise but a long process. We should instead focus on protecting the environment we have now and focusing on sustainable development in areas that are not environmentally sensitive and/or designated as a cultural heritage.
National and State environmental laws, regulations and procedures are in place. Why are we not using them?
More and more we see the rule of law being disregarded by companies, why does this issue keep repeating itself? Compunding these companies do not seem to be acting as a deterrent.
We also note there is a lack of specific initiatives for Orang Asal communities in Peninsular and East Malaysia, this would hurt the 11MP’s aim of lifting the incomes of the Bottom 40% (B40) of households.
According to Assoc Prof Dr Madeline Berma, an economist with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia as quoted in the media, this is because a majority of Orang Asal communities in the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak are at the bottom of the B40.
The Federal government has approval from Parliament to spend RM260 billion on the 11MP which is the government’s final push to bring Malaysia to high-income nation status.
One third of the 11MP is focused on inclusive growth, including raising the incomes of the B40, reducing costs of living, supporting the disabled and building rural infrastructure.
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