KOTA KINABALU July 8, 2012: The Sabah Environment Protection Association (SEPA) claimed that the state can move forward without the aid of dirty energy derived from a coal-fired power plant.
SEPA chairman Wong Tak said in his keynote address at the Institute Sinaran inter-school Environmental Day yesterday, that Sabah is the only state in the country not dependent on any coal-fired power plant for power and energy, and maintained that it possesses sources of green energy that could be tapped gainfully.
Citing Mount Kinabalu as a God given gift as various rivers start from its peak, Wong said, “it is blessed with rivers with fast flowing water that could be capitalised by establishing mini-hydro plants to generate power.”
He asserted that much of Sabah’s forest had been cleared for oil palm plantations and said, “We need to tap into the new technology offered to us in the form of biomass.
“A total of 1.6 milion hectares were cleared to make way for oil palm plantations, yet we waste the biomass and leave it to rot inside the plantations. These should be used to generate energy in Sabah,” he said.
Wong maintained that the state cannot avoid responsibility towards its environment in the 21st century.
“Business will not go on without clean and healthy environment. Our lives are linked with the eco-system, and we are part of it. To protect humanity, we have to look after our eco-system. We need to change our values, change the way we conduct our businesses, change the way we live,” he said.
Sabah has had its fair share of bad experiences in the past and the Mamut copper mine in Ranau was a prime example.
“Someone made a mistake and the people (living near the area) have to suffer forever for it. We should not allow these things to be repeated. This is our land and future, and we want to determine what sort of environment we want to live in,” he said.
Wong said SEPA was helping the local community in Tawau to address a current issue related to the Kukusan Forest Reserve, which has been re-classified to a Class II forest reserve.
He claimed that a foreign company has been allowed to enter the forest reserve to operate a quarry.
“It is another disaster in the making,” he said.
He however said that Sabah is still lucky because despite the exploitation of wealth by certain quarters, it is still blessed with diversity in its ecology.
“After decades of exploitation, we still have the best,” he said, urging the young to voice up their concern where the environment is concerned and to become a part of managing the nation.
“Across the world, young people are coming together to ensure their authorities hear their words because the future belongs to the younger generation,” he stressed.