KOTA KINABALU: The 2 million Ha referred to by Sabah Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan recently are areas in the Nature Conservation Agreement (NCA), his Political Secretary Anuar Ghani confirmed.
“To clarify matters and to ease troubled minds, I clarify that the 2,000,000 hectares referred to by Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan is indeed the area referred to in the NCA (Nature Conservation Agreement),” he said in a statement.
He said this in response to former senator Adrian Lasimbang’s repeated objections to the NCA and accused the latter of acting more like a “roadblock” against Kitingan’s efforts for the benefit of the state and the people rather than as a genuine advocate for indigenous rights.
He said Kitingan was appointed by the state cabinet as chairman of the steering and management committee for the implementation of the NCA on 4/3/2022 subsequent to the statements made by the attorney general on 9th February 2022. The statements by the Sabah State Attorney General he said has been superseded by events.
Anuar contends that Adrian’s opposition is not rooted in legitimate concerns but is a strategic stance to obstruct the NCA’s implementation.
“Adrian continuously voices his concerns about the NCA, but one must question his understanding of Nature Conservation Agreement as a whole.
“His single-minded focus on this agreement, coupled with his failure to address broader issues, suggests that he is playing a game of political obstruction,” Anuar said.
Anuar further questioned the extent of Adrian’s representation of indigenous groups, proposing that he was only advocating for a small, selected section.
“Adrian claims to champion the rights of indigenous people, and no doubt PACOS has helped sections of the indigenous community but his sphere of influence is limited to a select group of people,” he said.
There are wider and larger indigenous groups who support the NCA, he added.
Moreover, Anuar queried Adrian’s silence on another group’s carbon trading scheme that was rolled out without Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), without indigenous participation and with undisclosed profit sharing with the Sabah Government.
“Why the selective criticism? Why is there no outcry from Adrian on the lack of indigenous involvement or non-disclosure of profit-sharing with the Sabah Government in this other initiative?” he questioned.
Defending the NCA, Anuar lauded Kitingan’s initiative, underlining its potential benefits for Sabah.
“He (Kitingan) is among a handful of leaders who are actively addressing Sabah’s challenges, such as high poverty rates and a lack of basic amenities,” he said.
In fact, Kitingan has opened discussion with the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Anuar Ibrahim about relocating the Carbon Exchange platforms to Sabah. This can be done with the advise of highly credentialed and qualified consultants who have experience in forming Carbon exchange platforms and has a client base of 25 countries. This move is to ensure greater control of our carbon and protect our land and forestry rights which falls under the state list of the federal constitution.
Anuar urged Adrian to support these efforts rather than obstruct them, drawing attention to the significant losses Sabah is incurring daily due to the delay in implementing the NCA.
“Each day the NCA’s implementation is delayed, Sabah loses up to RM 8 million ringgit. Who will take responsibility for this loss? They have to step forward and take responsibility. Any undertaking to stop the implementation of the NCA and losses throughout must be backed up by a promise and ability to make good the losses suffered by the state. It’s both baffling and incredulous that Adrian would prefer Sabah to derive no income from Carbon Credits, rather than securing the proposed 75% with 70% to the Sabah Government and 5 % to Yayasan Sabah” he noted.
“Unless Adrian has a better plan to generate similar income for Sabah, I suggest he should step aside from this political game and start contributing. I’m more than willing to introduce him to the service providers helping Sabah achieve its financial and conservation goals. In fact, I have offered to do so in the past but Adrian refused, failed or neglected to meet them, “Anuar concluded.
With respect to Adrian’s advise to Kitingan on Regenerative Agriculture, Anuar said the Keningau MP meets a lot of people with their views on addressing Sabah’s Agriculture and our SSL (Self Sufficiency Level).
“He is open to meeting Adrian to discuss and hear him out. That would be the proper way and procedure instead of taking pot shots at the NCA. Be part of the solution rather than the problem. I will personally organise the meeting to discuss matters of interest to Sabah which will strengthen our economy.
“Among part of Kitingan’s functions is to seek out RM17 billion worth of grants, revenues and investments to solve our long standing flood mitigation, Drainage and irrigation issues. We need to increase our revenues in order to finance this instead of being reliant on the federal government. The NCA is one such major source of revenue. This is part of the big picture,” he said.