Tuesday, May 27, 2008


CM reassures on environ, wildlife
“We don’t kill Orang Utans or other wildlife for agriculture


The State Government remains committed to protecting the environment and wildlife habitats in Sabah, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman. He said this had been translated into several stands that the Government had taken, including not allowing the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Silam, Lahad Datu, following protests and research that showed the construction of the plant could have a negative impact on diverse marine and terrestrial eco-systems in its vicinity. Musa dismissed allegations from some international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) about the negative impact of oil palm on wildlife habitats in Sabah. “I would like to clarify and give you the assurance that we do not kill Orang Utans or other wildlife to make way for agriculture,” he said when closing the Star BRATs P2P Greeniz Program at Sukau Rainforest Lodge in Kinabatangan yesterday. While it could not be denied that oil palm plantations are here to stay, Musa stressed however that with the help of many environmental NGOs, Sabah is looking ahead as to what the State could do better. Citing the Kinabatangan floodplain, he noted that conservation of the environment and the palm oil industry go hand-in-hand and the Government is creating a win-win situation for all stakeholders. He said several plantation giants such as Asiatic Development Berhad, Pontian United Plantation and Sawit Kinabalu, were conducting reforestation to create corridors of wildlife such as the Borneo pygmy elephants. “We commend them and others who realise that they must give up some of their land, so that wildlife will be able to move from one forested area to another.” Having said that, Musa reminded those plantation owners who have yet to clear crops at Riparian reserves to do so as directed by the Sabah Government two years ago. He stressed that environmental education has become one of the State Government’s core interests in creating a future generation that cares for the environment. This could be seen from the setting up of the Sabah Environment Education Network or SEEN in March 2005 involving several Government departments, related NGOs and other interested parties. Another program that is gaining recognition is the EERace which is similar to the famous television show Amazing Race. The declaration of the Kinabatangan Floodplain as A Gift to the Earth in 1999 and the subsequent gazettement of the 26,000 hectares of the floodplain as the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary in 2005 is a clear manifestation of Sabah’s commitment towards protecting the environment and wildlife habitats, according to him. “This shows that while we push for economic development, we strive to create a balance, in line with the sustainable development policy outlined in the Sabah Development Corridor Blueprint,” said Musa.