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June 2019

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The first question the chief minister
and his bunch of cabinet ministers should be asked is … where is your dignity
and conscience? Saying things just to suit your conscience without regard to
the welfare of the people can be likened to being selfish and insensitive to
peoples’ needs.

The article published in
FMT titled, ‘Warisan-led govt slammed over go-ahead for TAED (Tanjung Aru Eco
Development Project) and Papar dam projects’ in FMT not only undermines the
state’s integrity but also its commitment to the people of Sabah. This reflects
poorly on the entire Shafie Apdal cabinet and it begs one key question… does
Shafie and his team have the tenacity and capability to fulfil the needs of the
people of Sabah until the next general election?

KOTA KINABALU: NGOs have criticised the Sabah government’s green light for two controversial mega projects — the Tanjung Aru Eco-Development (TAED) and Papar Dam.

Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa), Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam (Takad) and Tanah Dahai collectively called it a “betrayal” to Sabahans.

Sepa president Lanash Thanda said there had never been any transparency involving the two bllion-dollar projects.

The spate of
kidnappings had started and this time with the kidnapping of the 10 gypsy
fishermen. Luckily, they were found safe and unharmed. The incident occurred at 2.45am when the 6pm to 6am curfew
in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSzone) was enforced. Although, the
fishermen were foreigners and had violated curfew hours, the existence of such
threats lurking in waters off Sabah gives an uncomfortable feeling.

Numerous
propositions have been put forth but yet these violations continue to exist.
Many reasons have been attributed to this for example lack of strategic enforcement,
local communities still being sympathetic towards the kidnappers, and so forth.
But the fact of the matter is if such threats continue to exist in the waters
off eastern Sabah, then people would have to constantly live in fear.

As pointed
out by the Fishermen Association chairman Datuk Arsit
Sedit who said that “the order for no activities at sea to take place from
dusk-to-dawn was meant for the safety of all communities in Beluran, Sandakan,
Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau”. This is a lot of
districts and easily involves a population of about one million people!

In a recent
article titled, “Ensuring Sabah’s Interests in SFI deal”, published in Your
Local Voice – Daily Express (Sabah) on 9 June 2019, Dato John Lo shared views
pertaining to Sabah Forest Industries (SFI) that were basically biased towards
the State without due consideration to the Rule of Law.

If the views by
John Lo are anything to go by then Sabah’s progress and development would be
stifled because investors would shy away as a result of the state’s
interference in private sector business transactions. There is a need for the
Sabah State Government to respect the rule of law and give credence to private
sector business transactions in efforts to ensure investor confidence and development
in the state.

There are two main aspects that
must be considered before the Forestry Department or Water, Land and Natural
Resources Ministry decide to issue new forest guidelines, deemed a sensitive
issue with all the states in peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

Each state would have its own
‘plans’ for its forested lands. How it is to be developed to benefit the state
and sometimes decisions are made at the expense of exploiting the forests. The
respective chief ministers have jurisdiction on the issuance of licenses, which
most often than not is subject to abuse.

We refer to your report on June 8, 2019, “Let proper experts run Sabah Forest Industries, says ex-banker”.

We beg to differ from John’s Lo comments on Sabah Forest Industries (SFI) because the perception that is created serves to favour the state’s viewpoints and not the changing business landscape and facts of law.

It must be made clear that the “two” points central to the case, as raised by John Lo (state’s insistence to have pulp and paper expertise as a prerequisite and decision to reject the issuance of the licence) were a mere after-thought by the government to disrupt the sale and purchase between Pelangi Prestasi and Ballarpur Industries.

We all
know that mining can be detrimental to the ecological system. Apart the
physical degradation in terms of extensive erosion and causing sinkholes,
mining can also result in the loss of biodiversity, contamination of soil,
groundwater and water tables, ultimately impacting surface waters. This could
create public health concerns.

However,
it must be noted that every industry that affects
the environment and ecological systems can be managed and controlled with
proper legislation and enforcement. The same goes for the mining industry, that
is with stringent conservation and preservation protocols and practices, the
industry could be considered on a lesser scale.

Sabah conservationists are strongly against extraction of natural resources in the state.

A group of 12 NGOs urged the state government to stay off mining as its past Mamut copper mining experience has left irreparable damage to the state’s biodiversity.

Mineral and Geoscience Depart­ment director general Effendi Abdullah Azizi should reconsider his suggestion for the state government to issue more mining licences to encourage extraction of natural resources in Sabah, said the group in a joint statement yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: The delay in
channelling allocations to finance several government development projects is
not only happening in Sabah as the situation is also affecting other states in
the Peninsula, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said the fund for development
projects is seen as slow in coming following several constraints including
the financial problems left behind by the previous government.