Kitingan: Some unseen hands trying to derail Sabah's carbon credit deal

KOTA KINABALU: A move by some civil societies to take Sabah's Nature Conservation Agreement (NCA) for carbon credit sales to court is aimed at derailing the deal, says Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan

The Deputy Chief Minister said that he believes that the action to seek a judicial review by certain groups is to serve certain people with a vested interest to take over the project.

"It looks like they have other objectives; to derail the programme and some of them may be interested in taking over.

"I cannot elaborate on this taking-over because they already know who their backers are," said Kitingan during the Sabah Way Forward online talk titled "What's next for Sabah's carbon trade deal?" hosted by Kupi Kupi FM.

Kitingan, who is also the chairman of the Steering and Management Committee for the Implementation of the Nature Conservation Agreement, said the Oct 28, 2021 NCA deal with Singapore-based Hoch Standard Ltd (owned by Dr Ho Choon Hou) was still under implementation to meet various international requirements.

Hoch Standard has since been taken over by the British Virgin Island-based company Lionsgate. The deal involves management of carbon credit sales of two million hectares of forest reserves for a period of 100 years.

Kitingan said that there is nothing sinister about the offshore company as insinuated by some groups as the owner of Lionsgate is Dr Ho.

He said that going to court would be a waste of time.

"We are prepared to go to court if that is necessary but we are also being careful if their motive is genuine, otherwise it will backfire on them. What is their motive? What is their legal basis?" he said during the talk with moderator Philip Golingai, where he explained the deal and its benefits.

Kitingan said that he believes there are efforts to sabotage the NCA programme by people possibly connected to those who are used to being involved in exploiting Sabah's riches and NGOs could be involved with them.

He also noted that their carbon trade deal involving 84,000ha of forest under state owned Yayasan Sabah, was not very favourable as it gives only about five percent on the gross sales while there was also a commitment to pay RM250,000 a year for five years.

The company is given a free hand to dictate the pricing of carbon sales and provide for discounts under the proposed deal, Kitingan said.

In comparison, the NCA, the state government, pays nothing and is dealt with by the assigned party who is linked around the world with major global management groups involved in carbon trading.

He said at current rates, a hectare of forest can earn about RM1,200 (USD$300) from carbon credit sales.

Kitingan took time to explain the deal and address various technical issues being done to meet the requirements of Sabah's NCA deal.

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