'Somebody' trying to derail Sabah’s carbon credit deal, claims Kitingan

Kitingan speaking to the media after an event in Kota Kinabalu on Thursday (July 27).

KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan insists that the controversial Nature Conservation Agreement (NCA) to sell carbon credit in Sabah is on track but accused “somebody" of throwing a spanner in the works.

The Deputy Chief Minister said the deal, signed with Singapore-based Hoch Standard Pte Ltd on Oct 28, 2021, was still being implemented and there was no official objection to it from the State Attorney General (AG).

ALSO READ: Delaying carbon credit deal will cost Sabah billions, says Kitingan’s aide

On Feb 9 last year, state AG Datuk Nor Asiah Mohd Yusof said in a media statement the NCA was not enforceable in its present form and that due diligence on the details was being done.

She had pointed out that among the unresolved issues were a designated area, pilot area and map, and a development management plan as well as consent from affected communities.

On Thursday (July 27), however, Kitingan told reporters that her objections were not officially forwarded to the state Cabinet or the steering and management committee for the implementation of the NCA, which he chairs.

“Those are not the AG’s words, it (the statement) was not from the AG.

"If it was from the AG, (her office) should have (officially) given it to me but (it was sent) directly to the press so, that means it’s not from the government,” he said, explaining that the Sabah government and his committee were not officially informed of the objections by the state AG.

ALSO READ: Kitingan proposes carbon trading centre to be located in Sabah

He added that the state AG was in fact sitting on the same steering and management committee and that the “objection” was not brought up.

“The statement should have been forwarded to the minister and Cabinet ... somebody is playing around,” he said.

When pressed to identify the culprit, Kitingan said: “I don’t want to reveal who is behind the statement. We will know one day.”

The state AG could not be reached immediately for comments.

Kitingan, who is also state Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Industry Minister, said despite the purported statement by the state AG, the NCA was never shelved.

ALSO READ: Kitingan defends carbon trade in the name of Sabah’s progress

“It was just delayed. (But) we already lost time, it takes one year to 18 months to get results.

“So we are wasting a lot of time. In the meantime, (other) people are getting money from their conservation.

“Right now we are only getting RM110mil from our forest reserves. Compare that to conservation – it will be billions. What we are waiting for?

“We’ve already put the state at a loss, we have wasted a year,” Kitingan said.

In a previous statement, his political secretary Anuar Ghani had also contended that any statement made by the state AG to the media over the NCA was superseded by Kitingan's appointment as chairman of the steering and management committee on March 4 last year.

ALSO READ: Sabah AGC: NCA 'legally impotent' in present form, due diligence still being carried out

Conservationists and Opposition politicians have heavily criticised the NCA, with Kitingan involved in a war of words over the deal with lawmakers from across the floor in previous state assembly sittings.

Many also questioned the state government’s decision to appoint Hoch Standard to manage two million hectares of the state’s forests, with concerns raised over the company’s experience in carbon credit management.

There were also questions over the 100-year project term and details such as which forest reserves were being placed under the NCA.

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