Tuesday, 17 February 2009

SAPP files to get permit to hold demonstration

The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) today failed to get permit from the police to hold a peaceful demonstration to called on the Sabah State Government to forget about going ahead with a coal-fired power plant in Sandakan.

The party secretary general Datuk Richard Yong (pic above) in a Press statement issud in Kota Kinabalu, however, said SAPP would continue its campaign against coal-fired power plants in Sabah despite having been declined a permit to hold a peaceful demonstration here tomorrow.

He said the party would buy advertising spaces in local newspapers and send petition letters to the Chief Minister and Prime Minister to get its protest across.

Richard however thanked Kota Kinabalu OCPD ACP Ahmad Sofi Zakaria for promising to consider allowing a permit for a rally or demonstration if it is held indoors at a future date.

SAPP had planned to hold the demonstration, comprising about 100 people, at a spot near Wisma Innoprise, where the Chief Minister's office is located. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman is chairing the weekly State Cabinet meeting at Wisma Innoprise every Wednesday.

Richard said SAPP's stand against coal-fired power plants is because of the potential environmental problems caused by coal combustion.

It is urging the State and Federal governments to consider using the abundant gas reserves in Sabah for power generation, claiming that gas is cheaper and more environmentally acceptable.

"We are not against increasing power generation capacity in Sabah because we know that Sabah needs to beef up its electricity supply. Our objection is against coal-powered plants, and we strongly believe that natural gas is a better option," said Richard.

SAPP said 'it does not make sense' that Sabah would allow the piping of natural gas to Bintulu, in Sarawak, while insisting that the state should allow the setting up of a coal-fired power plant in Sandakan using coal from Indonesia.

National oil corporation, Petronas, is implementing a billion-ringgit pipeline project to convey natural gas from Sabah to Bintulu.

Following persistent public protests, including from leaders of component parties of the Barisan Nasional government, the project was supposed to have been cancelled. It has since been revived and now looks set to be implemented as planned.

"We also take exception to the fact that the Sabah government seemed powerless against the might of the Federal government and the commercial interest of Tenaga Nasional Berhad (the project owner).

"It seemed that the Sabah government is being held to ransom, that unless we allow TNB to build a coal-fired power plant, otherwise Sabah will have to continue to live with constant power outages."

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