Ask Sabah people if they want coal plant, Yong tells Tangau

Former Sabah chief minister and SAPP president Yong Teck Lee.

KOTA KINABALU: A local opposition party has challenged Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau to reveal the identity of those proposing the building of a coal-fired power plant in Sandakan.

Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president Yong Teck Lee said Tangau, who is also the industrial development minister, now had the perfect opportunity to reveal the individuals who met him.

“An Upko ceramah will be held in Sandakan tomorrow and it presents the best chance for Tangau to justify a coal-fired power plant in Sandakan.

“We shall see if the people of Sandakan support a coal-fired power plant to be built in the district,” he said.

Last month, in his speech at the Sabah assembly, Tangau had claimed that those who opposed the proposed coal-fired power station in Lahad Datu years ago were now coming to see him to propose a similar power generation project using coal.

He said a coal-fired power plant can be used to produce cheaper energy.

“I hereby challenge Tangau to reveal the names of those whom he claimed to have made a U-turn and are now supporting a coal-fired power plant,” Yong said.

Yong, who was a Sabah chief minister in the 1990s, said it was not the first time that a coal-fired power plant had been proposed in Sandakan, the first being in 2007 by the federal government and Tenaga Nasional Berhad.

However, the project failed to pass the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in March 2008.

In view of the objections from the then Sabah government, the federal government was forced to cancel the coal plant proposal in 2011.

“As a result, Sabah is now benefitting from our energy generation, using natural gas, which is cleaner and cheaper than coal,” he said.

Yong warned the government not to use the excuse of a coal-fired power plant to exploit the pristine Maliau Basin, where Sabah’s coal reserves are found and, along the way, rape the virgin jungle, steal the timber and destroy the state’s natural heritage.