Unhappy with Warisan’s lack of action on the environment

Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) president Lanash Thanda.

KOTA KINABALU: An environmental watchdog here is not happy that the Warisan-led state government has not fulfilled its election promises particularly on environmental issues despite being in power for over a year now.

Sabah Environmental Protection Association president Lanash Thanda said one of the factors that contributed to a change in government last year was the promise to do away with unsustainable projects by the previous administration.

One reason for green-centric voters choosing to support Warisan was that the previous government had stopped listening to the public’s opposition to the construction of the Kaiduan Dam, the mega Tanjung Aru Eco-Development (TAED) project and clearance of mangroves, among other unsustainable developments, she added.

“(But) so far they (Warisan) have not over-turned any of these aspects and instead have continued,” Lanash told FMT.

Before the May 9 general election last year, Warisan had campaigned against the multi-billion ringgit Tanjung Aru project as well as the Kaiduan Dam in Penampang, pledging it would scrap the projects if it came to power.

However, after assuming power, Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said the TAED might not be scrapped as it was too important for the state, adding the state government would review the development plans.

So far there has been no announcement of its final decision, which Shafie said would only be made after taking the people’s views and the interests of the government and investors into account.

On the Kaiduan Dam, the government confirmed the cancellation of the project but then announced the proposed construction of the Papar Dam, which drew criticism from grassroots organisations as well as the opposition.

Previous protests on the Papar Dam project.

They contend that the Papar Dam was only a rehash of the rejected plan as it would still be built on the same river albeit on a different location.

Lanash also cautioned against the introduction of more polluting industries such as limestone mining, proposed for Pulau Balambangan, off Sabah’s northern Kudat district.

“Before introducing more polluting industries that bring in more problems, we would like to know how the current government will bring back the rule of law and due process with no vested interest in the decision making processes?

“(This) is to ensure that the past does not repeat itself where government-linked projects were forcibly fast tracked and pushed ahead with no due process,” she said.

She said there have been some concerted efforts by the present state government to clean up the previous systems, such as the long-overdue restructuring of government-linked companies.

“But than to give polluting industries to the very groups responsible for such major leakage and wastage of state funds begs to be questioned.”

Lanash also questioned Warisan’s intentions, based on its election manifesto.

One manifesto pledge was that they would “melindungi, memulihara dan memanfaatkan alam semulajadi bumi Sabah” (protect, preserve and make use of Sabah’s natural resources).

“But in the same manifesto, the last point is clearly a contradiction when they use terms like ‘mengeksploitasi dan meneroka’ (to exploit and explore).

“So in a way, they are totally keeping with their manifesto of exploitation and exploration.