PRESS RELEASE: 16 NOVEMBER 2012
SEPA is shocked at the unsubstantiated attack and outburst of State Industrial Development Minister Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah against SEPA and its President Wong Tack. The content of his statement shows his gross ignorance which is mainly because he has chosen to make an evaluation without a thorough site visit. He should make his appraisal based on ‘hard facts’ and not make sweeping statements.
SEPA is of the opinion the Minister is so blinded by emotion that he is driven to twisting facts. SEPA is not against the gas-fired power plant in Lahad Datu. All SEPA wants is that proper procedures be followed so as to avoid irreparable environmental damage. The means must justify the end.
Let Datuk Tan be reminded that the first requisite of Sabah’s EIA laws is that the site chosen must be the right one and cannot be chosen if it negatively affects the environment, unless as a last resort, and even then, only if the effects can be mitigated.
Too many projects carried out by the government are not given proper on the ground procedural importance. And often contractors carrying out government projects act like they have the ‘license to kill the environment’. This is where the problem lies and it’s the duty of the government, which includes the minister, to monitor and enforce the laws not NGOs like SEPA.
NGOs like SEPA are actually helping the government by pointing out the problems for the government to act and Datuk Tan should thank NGOs like SEPA and not shoot the messenger. If Datuk Raymond Tan has an interest, it should be the interest of the rakyat.
The Minister’s call to SEPA, if it is serious, to object to coal-fired power plants in peninsular reveals a large gap in the minister’s thinking – Datuk Tan had taken credit for the cancellation of the coal-fired power plant in Sabah then. Going by his reasoning he should get PM Najib to close down all coal-fired power plants in Malaysia.
SEPA has since 2009 requested an EIA Master plan on POIC developments rather than piecemeal EIA reports where, cumulative impacts cannot be measured. To date, there has been no Master plan detailing its development, to allow for comprehensive and detailed planning or environmental mitigation measures to be undertaken.
Did the EIAs have public and NGO input? You can only get an academic ‘green-washed’ EIA if the panel members are all government servants and appointees. SEPA requests that the Minister searches his soul and do right by the people. Don’t bulldoze things because future generations will suffer the consequences.
Sabah can attract billions of Ringgit worth projects if it wants, if it is lax in monitoring and enforcement or is interested in potential-killer projects such as Lynas in Kuantan. We accept the Minister invitation and SEPA and its President Wong Tack are willing to walk the talk and meet him at the site of the power-plant and also go through the whole of the POIC. If the Minister is really concerned, SEPA is also willing to go with him to Tawau to get first-hand view of the Kubota power-plant there, to see the insensitivity of the planners.
President of Sabah Environmental Protection Association