KOTA KINABALU: Critics of the proposed Nature Conservation Agreement (NCA) are urged to support the move as Sabah is facing significant losses if there are continued delays to cash in on carbon credit sales.
Anuar Ghani, political secretary to Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, contended that Sabah could potentially lose RM8mil each day the NCA’s implementation was held back.
“Who will take responsibility for this loss? They have to step forward and take responsibility.
“Any undertaking to stop the implementation of the NCA and losses throughout must be backed up by a promise and ability to make good the losses suffered by the state,” he said in a statement here on Monday (July 3).
Anuar said this in response to a query raised by indigenous rights activist Adrian Lasimbang last week over the controversial NCA deal.
Lasimbang had called on Kitingan to clarify his recent statement that the state was in the process of committing some two million hectares of rainforest to a 100-year carbon credit conservation project.
The former senator said this was similar to the NCA although Kitingan had never made any direct reference to the controversial deal which State Attorney General (AG) Datuk Nor Asiah Mohd Yusof had said was “unenforceable” in February 2022.
She said this was as such as the due diligence was still being conducted on the third-party company involved, while matters regarding the terms of the agreement were still being fine-tuned.
Lasimbang, who is Sabah Native Voices Organisation president, also criticised the NCA, claiming the lack of transparency surrounding the deal had put Sabah in a bad light with regards to carbon trading.
Towards this end, Anuar confirmed the two million hectares Kitingan mentioned was in fact the NCA.
“To clarify matters and to ease troubled minds, I clarify that the two million hectares referred to by Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan is indeed the area referred to in the NCA,” he said.
He added that Kitingan was appointed by the state Cabinet as chairman of the steering and management committee for the implementation of the NCA on March 4, 2022.
This, he noted, was subsequent to the statements made by the state AG on Feb 9, 2022.
“The statements by the Sabah AG has been superseded by events,” he said.
Defending the NCA, Anuar urged Lasimbang to support these efforts rather than obstruct them, drawing attention to the significant losses Sabah is incurring daily due to the delay in implementing the NCA.
“It's both baffling and incredulous that Lasimbang would prefer Sabah to derive no income from carbon credits, rather than securing the proposed 75% income, with 70% to the Sabah government and 5% to state-owned Yayasan Sabah Group.
“Unless he has a better plan to generate similar income for Sabah, I suggest he should step aside from this political game and start contributing.
“I'm more than willing to introduce him to the service providers helping Sabah achieve its financial and conservation goals. In fact, I have offered to do so in the past but Lasimbang refused, failed or neglected to meet them,” Anuar said.
He also claimed that Lasimbang’s opposition was not rooted in legitimate concern but was a strategic stance to obstruct the NCA's implementation.
Besides that, he also questioned the extent of Lasimbang’s representation of indigenous groups, contending that he was only advocating for a small and selected section, adding there were wider and larger indigenous groups who supported the NCA.
On Lasimbang’s advice to Kitingan on regenerative agriculture, Anuar said the Keningau MP has met a host of people with their views on addressing Sabah's agriculture and self-sufficiency level (SSL).
“He (Kitingan) is open to meeting Lasimbang to discuss and hear him out. That would be the proper way and procedure instead of taking pot shots at the NCA.
“Be part of the solution rather than the problem. I will personally organise the meeting to discuss matters of interest to Sabah which will strengthen our economy,” he said.