Thursday, June 03, 2010

Postcards to the PM with a green message

Thu, 03 Jun 2010
By Michael Kaung
Source here

KOTA KINABALU: If all goes according to plan, the Prime Minister's office in Putrajaya will be flooded with postcards, with an environmental message from Sabah.

Postcards to the Najib Tun Razak are the latest in a series of tactics being used by the Sabah anti-coal-fired power plant lobby to halt the construction of the controversial plant in the state.

Scores of visitors thronging the Kadazandusun Cultural Association compound during the weekend's Harvest Festival celebrations stopped by a booth set up the ground to view the postcards of a idyllic beach on the east coast of the state that may be destroyed in the name of development.

The postcards show scenes of the now pristine Dent peninsula and its tranquil waters on the east coast, which is part of the globally important Coral Triangle and where the proposed 300-megawatt plant is to be sited.

Green SURF (Sabah Re-Unite to Power the Future), a coalition of local environment groups, decided that a direct message to Najib from the people of Sabah was the best way to halt the project.

Staff of WWF-Malaysia, along with other coalition members -- Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa), Malaysia Nature Society and Partners of Community Organisations (Pacos) -- spent two days explaining the issue to visitors at the festival.

Green SURF officials said visitors asked a number of questions about the proposed plant and many signed the postcards, which are also available for download at

Local entertainment celebrity Atama also dropped by the Green SURF booth and shared his views with fans on the perils of coal power, while DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang signed a petition asking the government to scrap the project.

The project called “Postcards2PM” is the brainchild of Sabah artist Yee I-Lann who wanted to do her bit for the environment now facing the threat of destruction from the impact of such a plant.

Yee took photographs of the site three years ago during a road trip and was struck by the beauty of the place.

"The Postcards2PM project was done on the spur of the moment as a way to reach out to the prime minister. I hope that if he sees the place about to be ruined, he may understand and put a stop to the coal plant.

"The prime minister is the only person who can do this," said Yee who was disappointed that the site chosen for the plant is along the most pristine coastline in Malaysia and just a hundred kilometres from the renowned Sipadan Island.

Stiff resistance

Darvel Bay, which environmentalists say will be hard hit by pollution from the plant, is the mainstay of the state's fisheries industry that is already tottering as foreign fishing fleets continue to deplete the state's marine resources.

The site near Kampung Sinakut is close to the ecologically sensitive Tabin wildlife reserve where the Borneo wild cat and leopard projects are being undertaken. Darvel Bay is said to be a rich source of food and the potential for seaweed farming is estimated at RM3 billion.

The power plant, the first in the state to run on coal, has met with stiff resistance.

Lahad Datu Energy Sdn Bhd, which will manage the plant, has said that the east coast of Sabah would benefit from the project as it would provide reliable electricity supply to the area which, in turn, would attract investors.

The detailed EIA study of the proposed site is in progress and the final report is expected to be submitted soon.

Initially, the power plant was to be located in Silam but later the site was changed to Sandakan and finally to Lahad Datu.

Those lobbying against the plant pointed out that its lucrative business links in high places have kept it on the government's agenda.

Speculation is also rife that contracts have been signed and that even money has changed hands.

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