Chong: Stop holding
the people to ransom over power supply problem
KOTA KINABALU, 16 Aug 2009: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has urged Chief
Minister Datuk Musa Hj Aman to stop intimidating and holding the people of
Sabah to ransom over the perennial power supply problem in the state.
Urging this was SAPP Information Chief, Chong Pit Fah in a statement
issued here today, in response to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman's
statement on Friday, that opposition parties and certain individuals are
to be blamed for protesting the Government plan to set up a coal-fired
power plant in the East Coast as measures to address the energy problem.
"Our suspicion over the worsening power supply situation in the state of
late, and the State government's supposed inability to resolve the problem
is getting clearer now, if not totally confirmed," said Chong.
He said such a suspicion was further consolidated by the fact that till
to-date, the state government had failed to satisfactorily explain to the
people of Sabah why it adamantly opted for the highly-polluted coal-fired
power plant, when alternative, cleaner energy sources like natural gas is
readily and abundantly available in the state.
"Instead, the state government has no problem allowing Petronas to pipe
our natural gas 500 km to Bintulu via a RM3 billion pipeline and then make
Sabah import hydroelectric power from Sarawak, which doesn't make sense at
all. Why can't the State government get the TNB (Tenaga Nasional Bhd) to
build the natural gas plant in Kimanis instead," he questioned.
Besides natural gas, SAPP had earlier also proposed/urged the state
government to expedite the 200 MW Liwagu hydroelectric dam which is
ideally located in the middle of the East-West Grid interconnection; to
fully utilize the existing underutilized 275 kilovolts (kV) East West Grid
for power transfer from the West Coast to the East Coast; and to import
power from Sarawak's Bakun hydropower plant.
"And if TNB insists to site a power plant in the East Coast for reason of
security of supply in an "islanded" network, then a gas pipeline from
Kimanis to Tawau should be considered. After all, the pipeline distance
from Kimanis to Tawau via Sapulut is shorter, less complicated and cheaper
than that to Bintulu," Chong added.
He also reminded that it was the state government who had rejected the
proposed coal-fired power plant in Silam, Lahad Datu in the first place,
citing environmental reason.
On April 2, 2008, speaking on behalf of the entire state cabinet, Chief
Minister Musa Aman was reported to have said: "After weighing the pros and
cons, the cabinet decided to scrap the proposed project, because we do not
want to risk the welfare and health of the communities in the area (in Lahad Datu)
as well as any adverse impact on the environment [...] I know some say
with today's technology, the proposed plant is safe and clean but some
experts also disagree."
"The rejection was made without even waiting for any 'Environmental Impact
Assessment Report' to be referred to," Chong noted.
He also demanded Musa to fully explain on his claim that gas-fired power
plant is not feasible in the East Coast.
"We would like to know how he (Musa) arrived at such a conclusion," he
He reiterated that the state government should completely drop the idea of
building a coal-fired power plant anywhere in the state, for the same
reasons it cited in its decision to scrap the one proposed in Lahad Datu
"Coal should be the last option if and only when all other options have
been sufficiently explored and proven to be non-feasible, but it certainly
must not be regarded or portrayed as the only option," he stressed.
He further noted that besides being highly polluted, coal's prices are
also constantly fluctuating whereas natural gas is cleaner, efficient,
cheaper and abundantly available in the state.
He also reminded Musa that the biggest asset that the state has is its
relatively unspoiled nature which besides providing the state and its
people valuable water and food resources, also provided job opportunities
to the locals and generate huge revenue for the state through eco-tourism.
"In his position, he (Musa) can always migrate elsewhere at any time he
wants, but where are the majority of Sabah people going to go if the
condition of the state becomes unlivable one day?" he asked.