Govt still considering coal power plant
Sufficient power supply is needed for Sabah to move on in terms of development, but it must be clean power. “We must realise that sooner or later, we have to move on, especially when talking about development, particularly industrialization, where we need sufficient power supply but it has to be clean power,” stressed Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, yesterday. Speaking at a press conference after the State Cabinet Meeting at Wisma Innoprise here, he said the State Government is still considering the Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s proposal to build a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in the east coast of Sabah. He said the State Government is taking into account the views of everybody, including locals, nongovernmental organisations and experts, on coal-fired technology before making a decision. Masidi was commenting on an advertisement put up by TNB Chairman Tan Sri Leo Moggie, entitled “Why Coal For East Coast Sabah?”, which contains information on coal-fired technology and how it would benefit the people. TNB’s initial proposal to set up coal-fired power plant in Silam Lahad Datu was rejected by the State Government in April after strong objections from locals and NGOs’ over fears that the project would cause serious harm to the ecologically sensitive environment there. “TNB had appealed to the State Government to reconsider its decision to scrap the project or identify new place for it to set up the coal-fired plant for the benefit of the people in the east coast of Sabah,” Masidi said. The State Government, he added, had agreed to a second meeting with TNB recently, and allowed a public meeting between Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd and NGOs to provide the former an opportunity to explain the rationale behind their insistence in proceeding with the coal-fired project. “We in the Government are actually very transparent; we are not hiding anything. The interest of the people and environment is still our top priority but at the same time, we cannot just live on the environment, life must go on. “In this world, we have to learn that in order to move on, we will need sufficient electricity supply. If the project (coal-fired plant) is approved, it has to be built on a suitable location... for now, let us give it much consideration first. “They (TNB) made an appeal to find a new place. The State Government’s view is very simple, we told them to lay their cards on the table so that the people can evaluate every aspect of the proposal, thus ensuring they will comply with the higher standard of efficiency. “Therefore we will consider and listen to the views of everybody, including the advice given by the Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Kuching, Xie Fugen,” said Masidi. Xie, who was on an official visit to Sabah, disclosed that they had ventured into coal-fired plant technology long ago.