Monday, May 20

Masidi urges plantation owners to fulfill promises

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KOTA KINABALU: Oil palm plantation owners in Kinabatangan have been urged to fulfill their promises to ensure that river pollution problems caused by factory discharge are solved immediately.

“They have given me their word and I expect them to fulfill their promises, not just to the government, but also to the people, fast,” said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun yesterday.

Met at the state-level Hari Raya Aidilfitri Open House 2012 at the Likas Sports Complex here, he stressed that they were seriously looking into the claims involving river pollution caused by the discharge from the oil palm processing factories.

He disclosed that an urgent meeting was called following the report, where factory owners as well as oil palm plantation and land owners, and also the relevant departments, discussed to find the best solution to overcome the problem.

“All we need now is action … we can give you answers every time you ask, but we have made a promise, and we are duty bound to ensure it is fulfilled.

“The same goes to the oil palm plantation owners. They have given their promises to me that they will solve the problem, and I expect them to fulfill those promises,” he said.

Masidi added that Sabah has two departments – federal Department of Environment and the Sabah Environment Protection Department – given the authority to execute laws and to take action against those who fail to abide.

“The state government has always been working closely with the relevant authorities on issues affecting the environment and people, especially those which we categorise as serious.

“We fear that if we do not overcome this problem soon, it would not only destroy our environment but also affect the tourism potentials in Sabah,” he said.

Asked on the two departments’ efforts in enforcing the laws, Masidi said the officers and personnel faced problems such as logistics and others.

“Some of these factories are located in isolated places. Plus, when we do visit the area, operations seem to be good, but later receive complaints.

“Actually, all this goes down to sincerity … I hope that those operating their businesses along the Kinabatangan River or other rivers statewide, would help us protect its cleanliness. Work with us and love Sabah, and help us protect the environment,” he said.