Yong Teck Lee:
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always be by your side"...."Trust and integrity of the leaders are
fundamental to the future of a country or a government or, in our case,
SAPP as a serious political party of the future"
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2008 Oct 7 - Do not force the coal fired power plant on the people of Sandakan
SAPP: Do not force the coal
fired power plant on the people of Sandakan
Kota Kinabalu (7 October 2008): The disclosure by the Sarawak Minister
of Public Utilities Datuk Seri Awang Tengah Awang Ali Hassan last
Saturday (October 4) that Sabah was holding talks with Sarawak on the
purchase of energy from Sarawak shows that there are viable alternatives
to the Ringgit 1.3 billion 300 MW coal-fired power plant proposed to be
sited in Sandakan soon.
By way of a transmission line from the 1000 MW Murum dam, Sarawak is
also expected to supply up to 400 megawatts (MW) of electricity to
Brunei by 2013.
Therefore, SAPP feels strongly that Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), the
80% owner of Sabah Electricity Sdn. Bhd. has not sufficiently considered
non-coal options before embarking on the proposed coal power plant in
the East Coast of Sabah.
In unprecedented full page advertisements in local newspapers in June
this year, the Chairman of TNB, Tan Sri Leo Moggie, had claimed that
coal was "the only viable option for eastern Sabah".
But by the TNB Chairman's own admission, natural gas was more
environmentally friendly and faster to build than a coal power plant.
Granted that solar power, wind power and bio-mass are not yet
commercially viable, TNB has a basic duty to the people of Sabah to
invest in hydroelectric power and natural gas energy. Official
publications of TNB and SESB show that the TNB had advanced knowledge of
the proposed combined cycle gas power plant in Kimanis, and had planned
the Liwagu and Upper Padas hydroelectric dams and the options to
purchase electric power from the proposed hydropower dams at Lawas and
Limbang in Sarawak. Yet TNB and SESB have been stubbornly engrossed with
coal "as the only viable option" for eastern Sabah.
In fact, two Hari Rayas ago in 2006, Tan Sri Leo had stated that, other
than Silam in Lahad Datu, there was not that much option. How could it
be that today Sandakan has become an option? If a coal-fired power plant
is bad for Lahad Datu on environmental grounds, how could it be good for
Sandakan, a neighbouring nature city?
The wide media coverage on climate change and the pollution of coal
power in countries such as China has awakened Sabahans. Concerned
citizens have come up with such convincing arguments against coal power
that the State Government had to reject the proposed coal power plant in
Lahad Datu on environmental grounds. The State Government's rejection of
the Lahad Datu site in April this year has effectively made it illogical
for anybody to justify Sandakan as a site. Sandakan is only two hours'
drive from Lahad Datu. Clean coal technology could not have improved so
dramatically ever since April. And, presumably, the contract signed by
TNB with China contractors early this year is still the same one.
Nothing has changed; so how can it be that what is bad for the Lahad
Datu environment is good for the Sandakan environment?
Recent statements made by the elected representatives and other
officials in Sandakan convey the impression that the people of Sandakan
would be forced by the prospect of severe power blackouts by year 2011
to grudgingly accept the coal power plant. If so, such a crude way to
force the coal power plant on the people is highly irresponsible.
In admitting that coal is a polluter, TNB has relied on the assumption
that the management of the coal power plant will be faultless and with
strict compliance with EIA conditions. The reality today is that the
people of Sabah, including in Sandakan, face persistent power failures.
Even SESB transmission towers have collapsed due to metal thefts. As for
enforcement of EIA conditions, the people have a right to be skeptical.
When rivers are openly polluted, huge logs smuggled under the noses of
the authorities, illegal immigrants roam glaringly on the streets,
turtle eggs freely available in the Sandakan market, Sandakan airport
without water, our public delivery system is so weak and maintenance
culture so lacking, how can the people be expected to take the risks of
a potentially disastrous coal power plant in their neighbourhood?
Irrespective of what the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) might
have to say, the social impact of the coal-fired power plant will be to
cause much distress and anxiety to Sandakan residents and impact on the
social-economic and tourism development of this future city leading to a
crisis of confidence on the ability of their government to protect and
promote their interests and livelihood.
It is for this reason that SAPP calls on the authorities, including the
State and Federal governments, to urgently get TNB to embark on and
invest in non-coal energy options such as:
The natural gas power plant in Kimanis. It does not make sense for
Petronas to pipe Sabah's natural gas 500 km to Bintulu via a RM 3
billion pipeline and then make Sabah import hydroelectric power from
Sarawak. What is so difficult for Petronas to build the natural gas
plant in Kimanis?
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 under used 275 kilovolts (kV) East
West Grid for power transfer from the West Coast to the East Coast,
If TNB insists to site a power plant in the East Coast for reasons
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.
Import of power from Sarawak.
The duty is on TNB to explain why none of these options is possible.
It is also the responsibility of the State Government to ensure
sufficient supply of electric supply without compromising the
environment and the health of the people.
Present at the press conference at SAPP HQ, President Datuk Yong Teck
Lee, former Assistant Minister of Resource Development cum Women Wing
Chief YB Melanie Chia Chui Ket, SAPP CLC Chairman for Tanjung Papat
Poon Kee Yang, CLC Chairman for Sekong constituency Datuk Tain Fook En
and Dr. Yeo Hock Huat.
Dr. Yeo, a Sabahan who used to work in Penang and the United States in
the field of energy-related technology, is one of the professionals
who have assisted SAPP in the research. He holds a Ph.D in Electrical
Engineering (2000) and Masters of Engineering Physics (1996) from
Cornell University and a First Class in Physics (1994) from York
University in Canada. He is presently Technical Director responsible
for renewable and energy-saving products with a local company. Dr. Yeo
has published more than 10 papers in international journals and