Green group lauds coal-plant decision as historic

Posted on February 17, 2011. Filed under: Energy |

Free Malaysia Today

The coalition of NGOs that opposed the government’s plan to build a coal-powered electricity plant in Sabah is breathing a sigh of relief following the scrapping of the proposal.

Green Surf, congratulating the state and federal governments for the decision, commended Chief Minister Musa Aman’s government “for pioneering a new direction for the state and the nation.”

Musa, announcing the decision yesterday, would henceforth reject any proposal for a coal-powered plant anywhere in Sabah.

Green Surf representative Cynthia Ong said the coalition saw the decision as “historic” and a “courageous step in shifting our development practices towards sustainability.”

“We have conveyed the long-awaited good news to all our international partners, who will no doubt join us in acknowledging the outstanding leadership that has been shown,” she said.

“On behalf of individuals, peoples’ movements, organisations and friends of Green Surf, we thank the chief minister and his Cabinet for safeguarding our priceless natural heritage and strengthening Sabah’s role as an environmental trailblazer in the region.”

Persistence pays off

Ong said she was pleased with Musa’s statement that “the state cannot afford to put its natural environment at risk” and saw it as a guarantee that the government would protect Sabah’s rich biodiversity at all costs.

Green Surf was founded in 2009 by WWF-Malaysia, Land Empowerment Animals People, Sabah Environment Protection Association, Partners of Community Organisations and the Sabah branch of the Malaysian Nature Society.

Ong said the coalition had worked hard to get its voice heard, tirelessly contacting its partners around the world for support and bombarding local politicians with letters. Last year, its representatives turned up at the Parliament building in Kuala Lumpur to submit its objections.

“We were in the dark as to whether the government planned to proceed with the coal plant, as we received very minimal feedback,” she said.

“Green Surf and the thousands who had opposed dirty energy in Sabah take it that our voices were heard and we thank the state and federal governments for taking this bold step.”

But she called for “immediate steps” to overcome the power shortage in Sabah through other energy sources, particularly on the east coast of the state.

“We are here to stay and we are ready and willing to work with both the state and federal governments in identifying and implementing solutions,” she added.

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