Coal not our only option to solve power woes, says Shafie

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal meeting participants of a course for members of board of directors in government statutory bodies and agencies in Kota Kinabalu today.

KOTA KINABALU: The state government is considering all options, including coal, as a source for electricity generation to address Sabah’s power woes, says Chief Minister Shafie Apdal.

Commenting on Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s proposal on coal mining in Sabah, Shafie said other options being considered were solar, hydro and gas.

“I was made to understand that our coal reserves is one of the biggest in the country. So there’s no doubt that option can be there, if it benefits the state.

“But of course we need to be mindful (of the views) from non-governmental organisations and environmentalists (before coming to a decision),” he said after an event here today.

Shafie drew some flak, including from the opposition, after he welcomed Mahathir’s proposal to source coal from Sabah and Sarawak.

Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Jeffrey Kitingan and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee were among those who were against the proposal.

“I know there is new technology nowadays that can be applied which can reduce the environmental impact such as solar, hydro and gas, which is plentiful for us,” Shafie said.

“And we haven’t explored to the maximum the potential of using gas. That is one area we’re looking into.”

Shafie also pointed out that there were people who had protested against the Bakun Dam project but were now enjoying the benefits.

“Sarawakians are enjoying the fruits of that (Bakun Dam). They are now even able to sell energy to other places including Sabah.

“I think there are times when we have to be bold in our decision-making, to ensure it benefits the people in the state in the long run,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Warisan president said the same decisive approach towards policy-making would also be applied on the issue of the minimum age for marriage in Sabah.

“That was an idea floated by the Sabah mufti, he’s the expert. I have to listen to him. So let’s listen and evaluate. So I asked the minister in charge of religious affairs to ensure we make the right decision.

“I hope we will be able to make an announcement soon. But I didn’t say we will go along with having 12-year-old girls getting married. They don’t even know how to run their families, they can’t even drive and they are still in school,” Shafie said.

He said certain quarters had a knack of twisting what he said for their own political mileage.

Sabah mufti Bungsu @ Aziz Jaafar received brickbats from women’s groups after he called for the legal minimum age of marriage for Muslims to be set at 14 for girls and 16 for boys.

On another development, the Semporna MP said he was keeping a close watch on government servants, particularly those in senior positions, to stamp out corrupt practices.