Published on: Thursday, September 19, 2013
Kota Kinabalu MP cum DAP Sabah Chief, Jimmy Wong, and Sri Tanjung Assemblyman, Chan Foong Hing, who is also Publicity Secretary, said they also wanted clarification on the identity of the shareholders of the project concessionaire, Tawau Green Energy Sdn Bhd.
In a joint press conference at DAP Sabah's headquarters in Bundusan in Penampang Wednesday, they said they received information about quite a sizeable number of logs being felled and extracted from the project site.
"When we went into the project site at Apas Kiri, we saw heavily laden logging trucks at the 18km long new road that was being constructed towards the project site.
"And when we drove the whole way into the project site, we saw more logs waiting to be picked up by the roadside," said Chan.
He said they then decided to check with the Forestry Department on the actual situation and were told that the logging was properly done with all the licences as well as procedures complied with.
The department told them that the contractor, in constructing the new road, has been given permission to clear the area and chop down the trees.
It is a similar situation inside the forest reserves where the Geothermal Power Plant is to be built.
"But we don't know where the actual location of the power plant is?
We were made to understand that they need to drill a well to find the required thermal heat to generate electricity.
"Does this mean they are going to clear the entire forest reserves until they find the right thermal heat well?" asked Wong.
They also questioned the absence of the markings "FD" (Forestry Department) and "RP" (Royalty Paid) stamp on the logs they saw lumped at the project site.
"If the logs are legally felled and all are done according to procedure, we should see the markings and stamps but there were none as seen in the photographs that we have taken," they said.
According to the Forestry Department's procedure, each log is to be stamped with Property Mark by the licensee (in the licensed area), which specifies its origin and ownership prior to the removal from the licensed area to the designated forest checking station.
Upon assessment and payment of royalty at the forest checking station, each log is stamped with the revenue/royalty mark by the respective forest authorities before the removal pass is issued.
In this respect, they said they had applied to make an inspection by going inside the project site together with the Forestry Department.
Wong said they had also done some investigation on the background of the Geothermal Power Plant concessionaire, Tawau Green Energy Sdn Bhd, which had signed a 21-year Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreement (REPPA) with Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) in November 2011.
"We found out that the main shareholder of the company who is holding two million share units coincidentally having the same name with a Youth chief of an Umno division in Sabah who also happens to be the son of a Sabah leader," he said.
"Is this just a mere coincidence?" he asked.
"Therefore, we call on the State Government, in particular, the Chief Minister to clarify the matter," he said.
DAP Sabah also called on the State Government to ensure that the RM419 million Tawau Geothermal Power Plant project that is expected to generate 36MW of electricity is completed as scheduled in 2016 to help address the power outage particularly in the East Coast.
"We also hope they will not make the excuse of not being able to find the right thermal heat as the license for them to clear more trees and reap profit at the expense of our natural environment," they said.
The concessionaire had also been given a 50-year land lease with Sabah Parks following an agreement signed on Aug 17, 2012.