Kitingan and Shafie lockhorns over carbon credit deal

KOTA KINABALU: Deputy Chief Minister Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and state Opposition leader Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal locked horns over Sabah's controversial nature conservation agreement (NCA) with a Singapore company.

The two opposing leaders were forced by Sabah Assembly Deputy Speaker Datuk Ahmad Abdul Rahman to behave as elected representatives and discuss the issue in a proper manner as both were talking at the same time.

Kitingan, who was winding-up his Agriculture and Fishery Ministry Budget 2022, spoke about the importance of the carbon credit deal that could earn money for the state in the long term.

Shafie told him the issue was not about the carbon credit potential but he wanted to know about the Singapore company, which he claimed had a US$1,000 paid capital.

He also asked Kitingan what was his locus standi to represent forestry matters, which came under the Chief Minister.

Kitingan went on to answer about the deal prompting Shafie to repeat his question that led to a "quarrel" of sorts.

Kitingan asked Shafie to withdraw his words "jual tanah" (land sale) to which the latter refused.

Shafie continued to demand an answer on the background of the company and whether the state government had agreed to it.

Kitingan claimed the deal started during Shafie’s Warisan government, three years ago.

However, Shafie denied, saying that they did not entertain the deal, considering it as a “sell out” for Sabah.

On numerous occasions, Ahmad also urged Kitingan to answer the questions and stop playing with words.

At the same time, he also asked Shafie to give room to Kitingan to answer.

In the midst of arguments, Kitingan told the House that the state Cabinet had given the approval to the Chief Minister to go ahead with the deal.

Kitingan also said the Chief Minister had tasked him to work on the deal.

"There is no issue of selling land or losing native customary land. It won't happen because these are permanent forest reserves. We won't lose our rights and control of the land," Kitingan said, adding that the NCA was for conservation, protecting the land, and monetising resources.
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