KOTA KINABALU: Concerns over the Government's plans to reopen the possibility of coal mining in Sabah has drawn immediate objections across the board.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and political parties from both sides of the divide have come out strongly to object any plans to allow coal mining in Sabah as fears grow that the coal-rich Maliau Basin, known as Sabah's Lost World, was a target.
Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Sept 19) called for self-governance on the state's resources, and for the people of Sabah to decide according to the rule of law and due process.
SEPA said Sabahans fought for "no coal" from 2007 to 2011.
"We will not start this new era with decisions made from federal or state level without proper discussion and input of the Sabahans taken into consideration.
"We must move forward with the renewable energy agenda, not take 200 steps backwards by looking at dirty sources of energy like coal. We rejected it thrice, we will reject it again," it said.
Last week, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia said in a statement that the proposal to use coal as an energy source had been strongly opposed and turned down during the previous government.
“WWF-Malaysia supports the Malaysian government’s commitment to the Paris Agreement of holding temperature increase to below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
“As such, renewable energy and energy efficiency options as an alternative way to generate electricity, as opposed to coal should be the priority for Sabah,” it said.
State Health and People's Wellbeing Minister Stephen Wong said a thorough study needs to be conducted before deciding on coal as a source for electricity supply generation even if it is cheaper compared to diesel.
Wong added that the Government needs to ensure that the ecosystem is protected.
"I think that there are other cheaper sources that can be used other than coal," said the Sabah DAP Chairman.
Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Datuk Yong Teck Lee said opening up Maliau Basin for coal mining will devastate the region.
"If Sabah were to mine its coal, then it would only be a matter of time until coal power plants are forced upon us on the excuse that we should use our coal for our own power generation instead of exporting to Peninsular Malaysia," he said in a statement.
Following Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad’s call to utilise coal in Sabah during his opening address at the 22nd Conference of the Electric Power Supply Industry (CEPSI) 2018, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the state will carry out a feasibility study.Environmental groups in Sabah have successfully fought against coal-fired power plants proposed by the previous Barisan Nasional government.