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Press Release

KOTA KINABALU (25th October 2010): A coalition of non-governmental organisations here wants the Government to take a stand on the status of a proposed coal-fired power plant in Lahad Datu.

The request from Green SURF (Sabah Unite to Re-Power the Future) comes two months after the federal Department of Environment (DOE) rejected the Detailed Environmental Impact Assessment report for the 300 megawatt project.

Green SURF’s Mr Wong Tack said the coalition was still waiting for a decision on whether the project will continue.

“We would like to know the stand of the authorities, in particular the Sabah Government. Green SURF wrote to the Sabah Government over three weeks ago, but we have yet to get feedback.

“We hope the State Government will take a stand based on the importance of the east coast of Sabah as a marine habitat. A huge amount is now being invested for activities in these areas, including through the national Budget for 2011,” he said in a statement issued by Green SURF.

Wong said there was too much anxiety at present over the proposed plant, especially among members of the public who have been in touch with the coalition.

“The public is asking for the State to focus on developing energy from renewable and green sources,” Wong said.

He said the power shortage problem in Sabah was still serious, and that too much time has been wasted on plans for a controversial coal plant, which has seen proposed sites shifting three times.

Wong said a recent speech made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on the need to make a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy as a way to create a firm foundation for a greener economy was in line with calls made by Green SURF.

Wong said the Renewable Energy Policy and Action Plan, and a dedicated statutory body called the Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA Malaysia), must swing into work quickly.

He said the construction of a 300 megawatt Combined-Cycle Gas Power Plant in Kimanis as announced in the recent Budget must be expedited to increase electricity generation to meet rising demand.

The Budget also listed pioneer status and investment tax allowance for the generation of electricity from renewable sources and energy efficiency activities to be extended until Dec 31, 2015 and the implementation of a feed in tariff mechanism under the Renewable Energy Act to allow electricity generated by individuals and independent providers to be sold to electricity utility companies.

“This is not the time to just talk, but to do something. We are glad that better feed in tariffs are being considered for implementation. Such initiatives are needed for investors to take up renewable energy projects.

“The Government has to make it attractive for the private sector to play a role in developing green energy,” Wong said.

Green SURF comprises the Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) of which Wong is president, Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), WWF-Malaysia, Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS) and the Malaysian Nature Society (Sabah branch).

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Dear Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, I write to you as a deeply concerned and saddened citizen of Malaysia.

Kepada Najib Tun Razak, Perdana Menteri Malaysia, sebagai seorang warganegara Malaysia yang amat perihatin dan sedih, saya menulis surat peribadi ini.

For most of the 45 years of my life, I have been proud to be Malaysian.  Recently, I have become heartbroken to be Malaysian.

Selama 45 tahun, saya amat berbangga hidup sebagai rakyat Malaysia. Namun, sejak kebelakangan ini, hati saya terluka menjadi warga Malaysia.

I am profoundly grateful to write this with the support of both my local communities in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo and California, USA, and a larger world community.

Dengan sokongan daripada penduduk dan masyarakat tempatan saya di Sabah, Malaysia Borneo dan di California, Amerika Syarikat dan masyarakat antarabangsa, dengan rasa besar hati saya menulis surat ini.

That said, I take full ownership of and sole responsibility for the views articulated in this letter; I express them from my stand as a mother, an earth citizen and a leader.

Saya sebagai penulis surat ini bertanggungjawab atas segala apa yang ditulis dalam surat ini ingin menyampaikan perasaan mereka dari sudut pandangan saya sebagai seorang ibu, warga bumi dan pemimpin.

I founded and lead a public charity and non profit organisation both in Malaysia and in the US, to bridge between worlds and build partnerships for ecological conservation.

Saya telah menubuhkan dan mengendali satu badan kebajikan bukan kerajaan di Malaysia dan Amerika Syarikat untuk menghubung dan membina kerjasama di antara dua negara dalam kegiatan penjagaan alam sekitar.

I have been at the front lines of the founding and mobilisation of Green SURF (Sabah Unite to RePower the Future), the civil society movement opposing the construction of the 300 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Lahad Datu, Sabah, on the edge of the Coral Triangle, one of three of the world’s most bio-diverse ecosystems. You know.

Saya juga telah berada di barisan hadapan dalam penubuhkan dan pengerakkan gabungan GreenSURF (Sabah Unite to RePower the Future) yang merupakan satu pengerakan awam masyarakat bagi membantah pembinaan ke atas loji penjanaan kuasa arang batu yang terletak di pinggir Segi Tiga Batu Arang di kawasan Lahad Datu yang merupakan satu daripada tiga kawasan yang paling padat dengan kehidupan laut di dunia.

You signed the 6-nation declaration between Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Solomon Islands to collectively protect this 1.6 billion acres of ocean. You also know of course of your pledge at Copenhagen to reduce carbon emission intensity by up to 40 per cent by 2020.

Datuk Seri telah menandatangani perjanjian untuk menjaga dan melindungi kawasan lautan yang seluas 1.6 billion ekar dengan 6 buah negara iaitu Malaysia, Indonesia, Filipina, Paupa New Guinea, Timor Timor dan Pulau Solomon dan juga berjanji untuk mengurangkan pembuangan karbon sebanyak 40 peratus sebelum tahun 2020.

You likely also know that the plant will displace fishing communities who have been there for a long time — irreparably contaminating their livelihoods forever. And if you listened, you would also know that they do not want the “development” that your government is imposing on them.

Datuk Seri sememangnya tahu bahawa loji ini akan meracuni mata pencarian dan menyebabkan perpindahan masyarakat tempatan nelayan yang tinggal dan hidup di kawasan tersebut selama ini dan jika Datuk Seri mendengar dengan teliti, mereka sebenarnya menolak akan jenis pembangunan yang dicadangkan oleh kerajaan pimpinan Datuk Seri.

One of the priorities of Green SURF was to study clean energy alternatives to the coal-plant, and propose them to the government.

Keutamaan dalam gabungan GreenSURF adalah untuk mengkaji dan mencari jalan penyelesaian lain kepada pembinaan loji penjanakuasa batu arang dan mencadangkan ia kepada kerajaan.

We collectively invested tremendous time and resources to identify and commission the expertise of Professor Daniel Kammen at Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory of University of California, Berkeley to conduct the Clean Energy Options for Sabah report. We had no notion of the outcome of the study, and results showed that Sabah is in an exceptional position to shift towards clean energy due to the availability of natural resources.

Gabungan ini telah melaburkan banyak masa dan wang bagi mengenalpasti dan telah melantik Daniel Kammen dari Makmal Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory seorang pakar dari Universiti California, Berkeley untuk melakukan satu kertas kerja mengenai Pilihan Sumber Tenaga yang Bersih untuk Sabah. Kami tidak menentukan apakah jenis sumber penjana yang sesuai tetapi keputusan dan kesimpulan dari kertas kerja menyokong penggunaan penjanaan tenaga dari sumber yang bersih kerana sumber bekalan banyak terdapat di kawasan ini.

We are in fact in an opportune position to lead the nation and the region in clean energy — the kind of leadership the world so urgently needs now.

Negara kita sebenarnya berada di posisi yang bagus untuk menjadi peneroka pertama dalam penggunaan sumber tenaga bersih di gagasan ini di mana kepimpinan ini amat diperlukan dan dinantikan oleh masyarakat di seluruh dunia.

I wonder if you know that Sabah is the last coal power-free frontier of Borneo. FYI, the 5 core NGOs in Green SURF are amongst the largest, oldest and most recognized conservation groups in Sabah and Malaysia — collectively responsible for most of the conservation work in the nation, with partnerships that span the world.

Adakah Datuk Seri tahu bahawa Sabah adalah negeri yang terakhir bebas dari loji penjanakuasa arang batu di pulau borneo? Untuk pengetahuan Datuk Seri, gabungan GreenSURF terdiri daripada 5 badan bukan kerajaan perlindungan alam sekitar Malaysia yang telah lama bergiatan dalam aktiviti kerjasama antarabangsa dan telah mendapat pengiktirafan dari seluruh dunia.

We have tried every avenue available to communicate to you the results of our findings and to engage in discussion about the future of energy for Sabah.  After months of unsuccessful attempts to meet with you, I can only conclude that you do not want to meet with us.

Kami telah mencuba pelbagai cara yang ada untuk menyampaikan kepada Datuk Seri hasil kajian ini supaya dapat membincangan pelan sumber tenaga sabah di masa akan datang. Setelah beberapa bulan mencuba dan gagal, kami berpendapat bahawa Datuk Seri tidak berniat untuk membuat perjumpaan ini.

This confuses and disturbs me. Your words in public are about listening to the rakyat (people) and hearing their views. A sizeable portion of the rakyat of Sabah has been doing everything within their power to be heard by you. To no avail.

Kesukaran ini amat mengelirukan dan menganggu saya kerana Datuk Seri telah berucap tentang kesediaan untuk mendengar isi hati dan kehendak rakyat. Sebahagian besar masyarakat dari negeri Sabah telah melakukan segala daya dan kuasa untuk mendapat perhatian dari Datuk Seri tetapi masih mengalami kegagalan.

We have given you the benefit of the doubt that word is not getting to you, and yet we have met with those around you who promised they would convey our message to you. Many months, memos, reports, letters, faxes, emails and phone calls later, and we have not received a single response from you or any member of your administration.

Kami tidak yakin akan alasan bahawa mesej ini tidak dapat diterima oleh Datuk Seri, kerana telah berjumpa dengan setengah pihak yang berjanji untuk menyampaikan mesej ini kepada Datuk Seri. Beberapa bulan belalu, beberapa memo, kertas kerja, faksi, email dan panggilan telefon, kami tidak menerima apa apa balasan dari Datuk Seri atau kakitangan dalam pentadbiran.

We also did our best at state level government, and have huge support from within the government but ultimately the message is that this is untouchable because “ini Najib mau” (Najib wants this).

Kami juga telah berkerja keras dengan kerajaan negeri dan telah mendapat sokongan padu dari kerajaan negeri tetapi akhirnya diberitahu bahawa mereka tidak dapat berbuat apa apa kerana ia dikatakan “ini Najib mahu”.

Sir, my most consistent experience of your administration is stone walls, arrogance and insincerity. I am shocked by the behavior of the leadership of my nation.  I find it patronising, archaic, oppressive, blatantly and self-righteously elitist and top-down.

Pengalaman saya dengan pihak kerajaan telah menemui jalan buntu. Saya berpendapat, kesombongan dan ketidak tulusan dari pihak Datuk Seri adalah amat menindas.

I do not experience your administration as democratic, transparent, open, accountable or responsible. There is a deep incongruence between what you are projecting externally and what we have experienced internally.

Saya tidak dapat merasai bahawa  kerajaan Datuk Seri sebagai demokratik, telus, terbuka, dan bertanggungjawab. Terdapat perbezaan yang besar antara yang ditunjukkan oleh pihak kerajaan dengan apa yang dikatakan oleh Datuk Seri.

I can only surmise that you intentionally run your administration in this manner. Otherwise, it would mean that your leadership is incompetent and ineffective.

Saya dapat membuat kesimpulan bahawa segala ini adalah cara kepimpinan Datuk Seri untuk mentadbir negara ini. Jika tidak, ia menunjukkan bahawa kepimpinan Datuk Seri adalah tidak berfungsi dan berkesan.

I am angry, and I am not willing to accept systemic disempowerment of our people. I am writing this open letter as a last resort. Sabahans are speaking up because we are deeply troubled and scared about the fate of our ecological and cultural legacy, and what we will be able to hand down to our future generations.

Saya amat marah dan tidak dapat menerima cara kerajaan dalam usaha mengurangan kuasa rakyat secara sengaja. Surat terbuka ini adalah sebagai satu usaha terakhir saya. Rakyat Sabah telah bangkit kerana rasa terganggu dan risau akan keadaan alam sekitar dan kesinambungan budaya hidup penduduk tempatan kepada generasi yang akan datang.

Please show true leadership and listen. You and your administration have much to do to regain a modicum of respect amongst many Sabahans.

Tolong tunjukkan kepimpinan yang tulus dengan mendengar rintihan ini. Datuk Seri dan pihak kerajaan perlu mengandakan usaha untuk memulihkan rasa hormat dan sokongan dari rakyat sabah.

If 1 Malaysia is more than a PR campaign and is truly intended “to provide a free and open forum to discuss the things that matter deeply to us as a Nation”, please walk your talk.

Sekiranya 1Malaysia dikatakan bukan hanya satu propaganda kempen dan sebenarnya bertujuan untuk memberi peluang kepada rakyat Malaysia satu tempat untuk berdialog dan berbincang hal penting demi kepentingan  negara kita, diharap Datuk Seri ikhlas melaksanakannya.

Yours sincerely, for the children, Cynthia Clare Ong Gaik Suan.

Yang telus, untuk anak anak kita, Cynthia Clare Ong Gaik Suan.

c.c.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
United Nations General Assembly
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International
The Parliament of Malaysia
Suhakam – Human Rights Commission of Malaysia
Professor Daniel Kammen, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, U.S.A.
FaceBook, Twitter, blogs and websites
Local, national and international mainstream and alternative media
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