O&G a ‘sunset industry’, time to explore other resources, senator says

Senator Adrian Lasimbang says it’s time for Sabah and Sarawak to move on from oil and gas. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: Senator Adrian Lasimbang has urged the Sabah and Sarawak governments to explore the use of other natural resources instead of focusing on the “sunset industry” of oil and gas.

“Everyone keeps talking about the oil royalty under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, as if it is the only thing we can develop.

“But if the climate change movement becomes serious, the oil and gas industry will definitely be hit. Countries will be forced to cut emissions, and Sabah and Sarawak will be affected,” he said.

Speaking to FMT on the sidelines of the recent Clean Energy Collaboration conference here, he said it was time for the authorities to begin looking into a plan for renewable energy and sustainable development.

He gave the example of the Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme or Sares, which he said focuses on the use of solar technology.

For most of the villages involved in the scheme, though, mini hydro technology could actually be developed instead, he said.

This would be better as hydro technology is capable of running 24 hours a day unlike solar technology which only runs at specific times, he added.

“They claim they have consulted the district offices, but I don’t think it’s enough. They have to go down to the ground to conduct studies,” he said.

Adrian Lasimbang speaks at the Clean Energy Collaboration conference in Kuching.

Lasimbang, who founded Tobpinai Ningkokoton Koburuon Kampung, an organisation which promotes suitable technology for sustainable community development projects, also urged the government to invest more in empowering the people to venture into renewable energy technology.

“It is important for us to empower them so that they can understand how the system works, as well as its limitations,” he said.

“Most people here don’t understand the technology. They think that they can just buy solar panels, install them on the roofs and get power, but it doesn’t work that way.”

Often, he said, solar projects are identified and given to appointed contractors. Maintenance issues are forwarded to the relevant ministry which, most of the time, does not have the funds to maintain the system.

A community-based system, on the other hand, would allow the people to maintain it themselves.

On environmental policies, Lasimbang urged the state and federal governments to put aside political differences and work together.

“We cannot be saying something at the federal level but doing something else at the state level.”