Sabah minister accuses Jeffrey of using coal issue for political mileage

Sabah DAP chief Stephen Wong says the media is trying to hype up the issue of using coal to generate power when the state Cabinet has not even discussed the matter. (Facebook pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah DAP chief Stephen Wong has slammed state opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan for trying to blow the coal issue in the state out of proportion.

Wong, who is the state people’s health and wellbeing minister, advised the public not to over-react following the Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president’s allegations.

“As the opposition, Jeffrey is only trying to get political mileage through this issue.

“I didn’t see him going out and being active in objecting to the last coal-fired plant project (proposed in Lahad Datu in 2007).

“He just wants to provoke the people,” he told FMT.

The Lahad Datu project was scrapped in 2011 following protests.

Yesterday, Jeffrey had criticised Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal for welcoming Putrajaya’s proposal to bring back coal as a source of energy in the state despite the strong opposition to such plants due to environmental concerns.

He said Shafie should have immediately shot down the suggestion and the matter should not even have gone to the discussion stage when it was raised by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the latter’s recent visit to Sabah.

Jeffrey, who is the Keningau MP, also pointed out that Wong, who was involved in the protest against the power plant more than 10 years ago, had himself acknowledged that coal was not the best solution to address Sabah’s power needs.

He said Wong should share with Shafie the negative effects of coal and coal-fired power plants.

Wong, who is the Sandakan MP, said there was nothing agreed between Shafie and Mahathir on the use of coal.

“It was just a simple chit-chat over breakfast… there was no discussion or commitment. That’s why our state Cabinet has not even discussed it.

“And the media is also trying to hype up the issue but there has been no discussion at all on the issue.

“The government will look at all possibilities (to address Sabah’s power woes). Again, I advise the people not to over-react at this present time,” he said.

Recently, Mahathir had spoken against generating power through nuclear power because of the dangers from nuclear plants and waste.

He said Malaysia would still depend on coal to produce electricity as Malaysia still has a lot of it.

“Not only in Batu Arang, but also in Sabah and Sarawak,” he had said.

Former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee, who also heads the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), said natural gas was a better and viable option, rather than coal, to generate power.