Kota Kinabalu, 18th September 2013: It was the people of Sabah, the regular members of the public that rejected three attempts for the building of a coal fired power plant in Sabah clarified Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) President, Lanash Thanda.
Lanash was responding to media articles, which quoted the Deputy Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid stating that the proposed coal plant in Sabah had been prevented by “an NGO leader”.
“Mahdzir is new to this Ministry and seems unfamiliar with what occurred in Sabah for the last few years, although he spent time here as a teacher in the 1980s, the people Sabah are the ones who were against the coal fired power plant,” stated Lanash.
The first proposed site was in Silam, Lahad Datu, where the EIA was not approved and grassroots movement led by the esteemed Wong Tack past president of SEPA. This site was rejected by the State Assembly on the grounds of potential harm it would bring to the community and to the nearby environmentally sensitive areas.
The second site was in Seguntor, Sandakan, where the local community took the lead. Once again in 2008, the State Assemble rejected the proposed coal plant due to strong objection from the community and the environmentally sensitive area.
Finally for the third and final time it was mooted by the Prime Minister on December 2008 and to be sited at the Dent Peninsular, Lahad Datu, close to the site of the now infamous Lahad Datu invasion.
In November 2009, GreenSURF, a coalition of individuals and NGOs was formed to lead in the fight against the proposed coal fired plant. In August 2010 the Detailed EIA was rejected, this was due to the hundreds of letters objecting to the proposed coal plant that were sent to the Department of Environment.
In a press statement announcing the rejection of the third attempt of the proposed coal power plant issued by the Chief Minister of Sabah’s office on the 16th of February 2011, it stated that, “The Prime Minister understands that while we need to build up our power supply in Sabah, it can’t be done at the expense of the people’s welfare and the environment,”.
“So, even the Prime Minister says he understands, why are we wasting our time revisiting or even entertaining this idea of another coal fired power plant in Sabah?” asked Lanash.
According to Lanash, enough time, money and effort had been spent on this issue and we must move forward with the Green Energy agenda not take two steps backwards by looking at dirty sources of energy like coal.
“Datuk Mahdzir should be concentrating on improving and expanding Green Energy resources. Sabah has plenty of these and we are more than happy to sit down with him to discuss such options,” concluded the SEPA President.
Sabah Environmental Protection Association