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Firm told: Respond to logging query

Published on: Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Tawau: Tawau Green Energy Sdn Bhd is urged to reveal the total number of logs felled and royalty paid to date as a consequences to the clearing works for the geothermal power plant in Apas Kiri here.

Sri Tanjung Assemblyman, Chan Foong Hin also asked if profits from the logging activity is taxable.

In a statement here Tuesday, the DAP Sabah Vice Chairman said he received numerous complaints pertaining to overloaded logging trucks from Mile 8 Jalan Apas to Tanjung Batu. "This is not the first time logging transport issue has been raised . MP of Kalabakan, Datuk Seri Abdul Ghapur Salleh, had brought up the issue on Jan 7 this year.

"He questioned the legitimacy of the timbers given the fact that there is no more logging site nearby to Tawau area.

He has urged Malaysia Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) to step in and investigate the matters.

"As far as I know, there is only one site clearing which harvested numbers of logs nearby Tawau area, which is geothermal power plant project site located in Apas Kiri.

"The first geothermal power plant in the country is managed by Tawau Green Energy Sdn Bhd (TGE), and they just signed MoU with Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Atlas Copco before Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili last weekend," he said.

Chan said he had nothing against the development of clean energy in Tawau.

"But the issue now is about transparency and accountability. People have a lot of questions in their mind, even MP of Kalabakan also share the same concern. Therefore, the company alleged involved in the logging and all the related authorities should come forward to clear the air," he said.

According to the written answer in the State Legislative Assembly last November, the project site of geothermal power plant was leased to TGE by Sabah Parks on Aug 17, 2012 for 50 years.

TGE also obtained occupation permit from Sabah Forestry Department for 50 years on Nov 19, 2012.

"Apparently the land and the timbers on the said land, owned by state government, therefore by the people of Sabah.

"So, the question is, even if TGE needs to clear the site to develop geothermal power plant there, are they the legitimate owner of the timber and can they sell the logs to generate income for the company?

"I think the profit belongs to people of Sabah," he said.

Secondly, he said there was also a question of the number of logs felled and the amount of royalty paid to the government.

According to the written answer by the Chief Minister in the State Assembly last November, the TGE was given incentive tax allowance which was approved by MIDA on Sept 13, 2013.

Chan was in the opinion that even TGE should enjoy incentive for encouraging them to develop renewable energy, but any income generated from logging as site clearing, should not be considered as part of their initiative to develop geothermal power. "Therefore, should the profit generated by the logging activity there tax exempted?" Chan asked.

Thirdly, he asked if there was special permission for the logging trucks to flout the law and carrying excessive loads.

He said that despite numerous complaints raised by the public and even MP of Kalabakan there was no action taken by all related authorities.

"Overloaded trucks not only endangered the public, but also would cause damage to the road, and finally we the public have to bare the cost.

Is it fair to the lay man on the street?" he asked.