Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Corrupt Politicians Dampen Peoples Power Hopes

This subject has been given wide media coverage for many years. Insufficient power supply is a bane on our lives, not to mention on the effects it has on our economic development. The other basic need, water, or making a profit from selling it, is another problem the state government seems unable to solve.

Much opposition on the use of coal to generate electricity has high-lighted the problem of insufficient power supply even more. First, the people of Lahad Datu objected to having a coal-powered in Silam, citing pollution could impact the Danum Valley, amongst others. Then there was a plan to shift the project to Sandakan which also met with vehement opposition.

The last throw of the dice seems to point to the building of the plant in the Dent Peninsula, far away from people except for several thousand Indonesian workers working in the FELDA oil palm plantations. The smoke from burning coal, the proponents feel, will not directly impact the health of Sabahans because it is so far away from them.

I cannot claim to be an expert in the pros and cons of having a coal-powered power station but I am concerned about the long-term effects of having something that discharges huge amounts of pollutants into the atmosphere. What the coal emissions will do to the thousands of acres of oil palm trees (and probable loss to FELDA), only time will tell but what burning fossil fuels does to the planet is well-documented. There would be no need to have an important summit in Copenhagen otherwise.

What I am currently concerned about the implementations of mega projects in this country does not point to the benefits to the populace and nation as a whole, but rather at the politics of the implementation processes. Everytime a huge project is planned, certain vested interests somehow play a huge part, for the huge profits to be amassed by certain individuals figure prominently in all equations.

To narrow my point, if this power plant does get the go-ahead, who will get the huge contract, who will corner the contract to supply the coal, who gets to transport the raw materials and who in the corridors of power get to lay their hands on these lucrative deals? To my mind, these considerations play vital roles in seeing whether a so-called beneficial projects get done or otherwise. Prove me wrong.

Over the past 3 decades, much has been said about the huge Bakun hydro-electric dam. Until today, the dam is not even commissioned. One can write a very thick book about the politics, and shenanigans about this project. How much public funds, how much timber has been cut and sold, will never be known to Malaysians. Every so often, some important announcement is made that seem to point to more expenditure. Now the talk of sending electricity via hugely expensive submarine cables to the peninsula is back again.

This brings me to an important question which no state or national leader has so far addressed. Why spend billions of ringgit piping gas to Bintulu from Sabah? Further, why plan a medium size power plant in Kimanis and then spend billions on pipes and related works so that the industries in Bintulu get to utilize our gas?

More importantly, the Bakun hydro project is meant to benefit the entire nation and not just the peninsula and Sarawak. Sarawak is in fact, planning to build more dams to generate power. Why is Sabah left out of this equation? Why can't some power to be generated from Bakun be spared for use in Sabah?

If the cost of connecting power lines from Bakun to the Beaufort grid is prohibitively expensive, then why is the cost of piping gas from Kimanis to Bintulu not so? Anyone can tell that this does not make sense.

The Petronas gas pipeline from Kimanis to Bintulu covers a distance of over 400 kilometres. The land on which the pipeline travels was acquired by the governments of Sabah and Sarawak. Compensations to landowners have been paid. The width of the pipeline reserve is 100 feet all the way. Considering Petronas is a Government-owned company, there should be no reason why the same pipeline reserve cannot be used as way leave in the construction of transmission towers from Bakun to Beaufort by TNB, thereby saving huge land compensation and other costs.

There east-west power grid in Sabah has been completed, I am told. This means electricity can be transmitted almost state-wide from wherever there are generating stations, assuming there is a power surplus. Obviously there is no surplus, hence the frequent blackouts. If power from Bakun can be transmitted to the Beaufort grid, it can be further transmitted elsewhere. Being a non-engineer, can someone explain why this cannot be done?

If the coal power station at the Dent Peninsula takes off, when will it be commissioned? When will Bakun be commissioned? This mega project is supposed to generate in excess of 4,000 megawatts of electricity. The east coast requires only 300 megawatts. Why can't Sabah be spared this 300 megawatts?

Sarawak takes our gas but will not spare us some electricity. Just where is the quid pro quo?

By Haji Ramlee Dua


  1. No coal plant please.!! for the sake of our 'mother earth' and for Sabahans...Govt please give us more clean and green and also look again at the proposal: Bakun dam will not supply power to Sabah..

  2. With so much corruption in Malaysia to the extend even national security could be threatened which the military cannot even be trusted whatmore this coal fired power station where it can produce toxic waste, which must be regulated in term of its disposal to prevent contamination of the environment.
    The whole government is rotting to the core, there will be no proper enforcement. I do not any confidence in all this whole thing.
    Sabah will be full of cancer stricken people...and the next thing of course the corrupt politicians will be pushing for the mining of coal at Maliau Basin...Habislah Sabah!!!!

  3. Projects are implemented by politicians. Laymen like us just seems cant understand the logic behind. TOTALLY agree with you. Bakun has extra electricity but why not channel it to Sabah ? Bcoz it involves of EXPENSIVE undersea cable to Penisular. Build another coal-fired power plant in Lahat Datu, ANOTHER expensive contract. It is very beneficials to some !!!

    I am a sabahan and my work is related to Oil & Gas projects. I have the previledge to know bigger picture of future and upcoming Petronas/Shell offshore platforms/projects, most of them are in northen part of Sabah (outside Kota Belud & Kudat). But i do not see much plan to build downstream plant in Sabah except SOGT (Sabah Oil & Gas Terminal), small center for SSGP project( sabah Swak Gas Pipelines) and a power plant in Kimanis.
    The rumours of developing Kota Belud to be the supply-base has die off.

    good for you guys to find the details of future oil & gas development in Sabah.


  4. Shipping /transfer all raw materials out from Sabah to Sarawak could be due to economic factors. But if goverment (especially Petronas) has the political will , it can be implemented.
    Look at Kedah (Gurun), Petronas built a huge Fetrilizer plant (10 yrs ago) where there is no raw material nearby. All raw materials from Kelantan. But sabah full of Oil & Gas, but why it cant be done !! for you to find out...
    orang ulu-ulu bandau

  5. If Sarawak can do it, why not Sabah? I'm tired to hear that Sabah is too depending on the coal plant or whatever you may call it. I don't understand why this problem is haunting for the rest of our lives here. We're like being cursed by something like this.So pathetic.

  6. The situation must be good if only we can turn our self like the Avatar's people done, to save their own land. How i wish we are strong enough to fight for our right.. How i wish!!!

  7. Masalah ini telah membelenggu rakyat Sabah sekian lama. Yang lebih menyedihkan ialah hal sedemikian dipolitikkan semata2 ingin memancing undi. Sehinggakan orang luar mengecam kita sebagai orang bodoh. Apa yang kita mampu buat?Kita bukanlah golongan atasan yang ada kuasa dan takhta.Yang boleh berkata YA & TIDAK kepada pembangunan.

  8. Our natural resources are all shipped out to be sold to other countries. Then the money was pocketed by our ministers. And all the bad resources were imported to be used in our country because it is cheap. What sort of bullshit are you trying to impose on the people. We could have green power using our own resources.

  9. You're right about that, everything is done as a form of politicking. Nothing is ever done genuinely for the people's benefits.

  10. Kalau politik masih menjadi debatan, gerenti Sabah tetap akan bergelap buat selama2nya.

  11. These issues should not be used as a politicking tool.

  12. Elektrik di Sabah kena supply dari mana? Dari Satu2nya dam yang ada di babagon 2 ka?

  13. Saya betul2 tension la pasal ni. Asyk2 isu empangan yang disensaikan dan dipolitikkan. Cam tiada titik noktah. Sampai bila kita harus berdebat tentang perkara ni?Adakah Sabah sepanjang hidup tidak akan menikmati kemudahan secara tenang dan tanpa rasa risau?Di manakah suara2 yang inigin menolong kita konon tu?

  14. Because of these politicians, the Sabahans will be in the dark forever..

  15. Bikin tension betul ini isu...

    Why can't they just think about our people's plight rather than their pocket?

    Ask supply from Bakun to Sabah, lot of excuses. Expensive lah, this and that lah..But supply pi Semenanjung boleh pula..

    Really don't understand lah..

  16. Too much excuses...excuses, excuses and more excuses...don't mean to go against the Govt but how much longer will our people accept their BS?

    They really don't make sense at all..Bloody politicians..

  17. Please dear politicians...Don't use this issues as your politicking tools..

    Take this seriously as this is no joke..

  18. whatever the solution after this, hopefully it will give more benefits to THE PEOPLES more rather than individual...

  19. I just hope everything is gonna be OK :)

  20. The people's needs are used as a politicking tool to the advantages of the politicians. After so many false hopes given to the people and nothing gets fulfilled. This is getting exceedingly depressing.

  21. Stop politicking and do something for a change.

  22. We can only hope that this case turn into a happy ending story like the fairytale story.

  23. We are so over with your political dramas.Please get back to your seats and do the thing that you should do!

  24. Kalau mahu selesaikan masalah yang ada,tolong jangan kaitkan dengan isu politik2.Ini membebankan kami semua yang membayar cukai yang akhirnya digunakan untuk tujuan yang salah.

  25. i for once do not agree on the Bakun project. did none of u know how many of my friends from bakun were forced out of their homes? thousands. do any of u know that they did not get compensation as much as they should be getting? (Do u know how many ancestral graves have been dugged out?)i'm sure, u know not of what is happeninga reason y they say Bakun is cursed between the rakyat of Sarawak. do u not know how angry n unjust we feel as to why electricity is planned to be sent to semenanjung and not to Sabah? Even Sarawak will not use half of the electricity generated (said someone who has worked at the Bakun site)It's unfair. We don't like it. acccording to some YB in the news, sending electricity to Sabah is more costly then sending electricity to Smnjg... how far out is Bintulu to Sabah and Bintulu to Smnanjung? Have they failed their Geography? smnjung has lots of their own dams. Bakun should powered the entire Borneo. Bakun has been going on for so many years.

    Sabahans should not have allowed UMNO into their midst... Sarawak has made sure UMNO doesnt creep into the state... although it's not perfect, but at least better than any states with UMNO present. True?

  26. Hopefully that there will be more people who are sincere in joining the plights on fighting for the rights of the people. Instead of more of those who cares for their own benefits.

  27. Corrupt politicians are everywhere. How can we get rid of them? There is no way. No matter who we vote, they are bound to sink into corruption. No one are saints, we cannot expect it of them.

  28. January 4, 2010 3:54PM forumer,
    Yes, you are right. Bakun shall be able to power up Sarawak & Sabah if not whole Borneo.

    The funny thing is ....Sarawak goverment is going to build 20+ (not sure the exact figure) small damns within next few year as reported in news paper recently (somewhere in Aug/09).... actually what they want is new projects for their own pockets....sorry lah brother, benefit of rakyat comes second.

    rakyat need to complain more but right channel lah..

  29. if you look at the oil reserve of Malaysia, a big chunk is from Sabah north-west coast. And now east coast (sandakan) in the map and will soon have exploration activities ....

    Good that Sabahans to be more vocal and demand more from our MPs....Lets our MPs work harder for rakyat...if MPs have too much honeymoon, kita yang SUSAH kemudian kerana bila honeymoon sudah habis, minyak pun habis digorek orang lain and rakyat tidak dapat apa apa pun....tapi MPs sudah sinang sinang.....

    orang ulu ulu

  30. SESB explains on Bakun supply

    In a statement, Thursday, Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) explained that it would cost billions of Ringgit while the demand for electricity in Sabah is only about 500MW.
    “Such a large investment is better spent in Sabah by building a power plant which is more suited to the size of the demand in the State. This investment in Sabah will have a positive impact on the State’s economy and will reduce capital outflow from Sabah,” it said.
    “Building a transmission line from Bakun to Sabah cuts across a great distance that includes mountainous regions and forest reserves. This will have great impact on the security of our systems.
    “Any damage to the transmission line can result in a power outage for the whole of Sabah as the State is totally dependent on a single system.”
    SESB pointed out that the large investment and high demand in the peninsula justified the commitment made to channel electricity from Bakun to the peninsula and Sarawak.
    Even if electricity is purchased from Bakun for use in Sabah, the supply will be channelled to the West Coast, it said, adding, this will not help to provide balance to the current transmission system between the West Coast and the East Coast of Sabah.
    “Based on these factors, Tenaga Nasional Berhad /SESB have decided that it is more cost-effective to abstain from securing electricity supply from the Bakun project in Sarawak for the time being.
    “With the hydro potential in Sarawak estimated at 28,000MW, the opportunity for Sabah to secure supply of electricity from Sarawak is still wide open under SESB’s long-term plans for the State.
    “Bakun’s hydro capacity at 2,400MW is just a small portion of the huge hydro potential available in Sarawak.”
    The company said it is also in the process of identifying the potential of securing electricity supply from Sarawak via several potential hydro power plants in the state, such as in Lawas.
    Meanwhile, SESB pointed out that the only practical option to address the on-going electricity supply crisis situation in the East Coast of Sabah is to build a coal-fired power plant.
    “There is a need to provide balance to the electricity supply system in Sabah as currently the only source of generating electricity is from the West Coast.
    “The East Coast is totally dependent on the West Coast and any damage to the transmission line or the generating system in the West Coast will result in a critical supply situation in the East Coast.
    “This is because the existing generating system is not able to cater to the demand in the East Coast. It is critical that a power plant with a large generating capacity be developed in the East Coast to give support and balance to SESB’s entire generating system.”
    It added that this has been supported and verified by consultants appointed to study the potential of energy resources in the East Coast.
    “Nevertheless, SESB/TNB are still keeping options open in our effort to find alternative sources of electricity for the East Coast of Sabah.”
    On the issue of Sabah’s hydro potential, SESB clarified that the statement made by Francis Xavier of the Energy Commission as quoted in a recent statement by Luyang Assemblywoman Melanie Chia was based on the findings of a study undertaken 25 years ago.
    SESB, in cooperation with the Malaysian Electricity Supply Industry Trust Account, will undertake a new study on the current hydro potential in Sabah, it said.
    “SESB wishes to express our appreciation to all sectors of the public for their views and comments on the electricity supply situation in Sabah.
    “As a responsible public utility, SESB’s sole agenda is to ensure the people of Sabah can enjoy reliable and stable supply of electricity at reasonable prices.
    “SESB will ensure that continuous programmes are implemented to stabilise Sabah’s supply system in the future.
    “Based on our long-term planning, SESB has identified several areas with hydro potential for development in Sabah such as in Upper Padas (150MW) dan Liwagu (175MW).”

  31. the issue here is whether the coal power plant is safe or not to Sabahan health who live nearby the power plant. the energy power supplied today is sufficient to cover the people needs and thats why this project is done. to fulfill the needs, SESB took coal as the sources of power since coal is the most economic viable fuel option against other alternatives.

    Think, if we use electricity supplied from other places, the taarif is higher rather than using our own energy supplied. The Government Five Fuel Policy calls for diversifying in fuel mix to ensure our dependance on oil as source of energy.

    I agree to the goverment step to build another energy power plant in Sabah and very sure that SESB has taken the precaution step and considering environtmental issue before running this project.

  32. i agree Hiary, its about save-cost and budget in providing sufficient energy.
    about the issue of environtment, the advance technology has been used and always improved. I have no worry since i learnt about technology in chemistry and industry.

  33. Looks like we are expanding...For now it's 500W but soon it will be more than that. But I settle for what we will be given..

  34. "the goverment step to build another energy power plant in Sabah and very sure that SESB has taken the precaution step and considering environtmental issue before running this project."

    I agree with this..HEAR! HEAR!