Carbon deal sounds like good news, but is it risky?

By Remy Majangkim, MA63 Activist, Researcher and Tutor

KOTA KINABALU: In the past few days, Sabahan has been outfoxed by the State Government. They have done it, and cheers all around.

This regarding the Sabah Carbon Deal is worth mentioning, worth well over 80 billion Ringgit with a 100-year tenure.

Recently, the carbon deal has been “on”, says our Chief Minister, Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor, “it will be fine-tuned”, he says.

So what is the Carbon deal? It is a form of cash payment for keeping the trees from being chopped down that produces oxygen to offset the sulfur emission into the environment. Sabah has 2 million hectares of land equivalent to 4.9 million acres that include State land and natives land owner.

On the surface, it seems to be good news to the people of Sabah, but wait. Is it?
On the 9 February 2022 quote “Sabah attorney-general, Nor Asiah Mohd Yusof, says crucial terms in the Nature Conservation Agreement, including consent of native communities, have not been met” end quote. So what does it mean? It boils down to the Sabah State Constitution. Notably in Article 49,

Succession to property. Clause one says, quote,”1) Subject to the provisions of this Article, all property and assets which immediately before the commencement of this Constitution were vested in Her Majesty for the purposes of the colony of North Borneo shall on the commencement of this Constitution vest in the State” end quote.

This means that the land belongs to the State and its people. Now who is the State? The State Government is our caretaker, the ones that we voted in office and hold the confidence of the people.

The other teething issue was that a Singapore registered company by the name of Hoch Standard Pte Ltd sees to profit from this deal. So why the need to have a private entity to manage our multi-billion-ringgit carbon deal?

Now if the State is adamant in pursuing and materializing it, the carbon deal should be under the State. It can be done by invoking a new Sabah Carbon Commission, that is within the State power. Or better still, the Carbon Commission can be under the Tun Fuad Foundation, that is ready to be used.

This will easily provide job opportunities to the people of Sabah.

In my opinion, the move is similar to the move made by then CM Datuk Harris Salleh on the 1st August 1983, (40 years ago) whereby annex Labuan to the Federal Territories, but this carbon deal on a bigger scale.

The other concern was the possibility of this company using our land as a land bank. Now what is a land bank? Once a company acquires assets, in this case the State land, the company, through their wisdom, may/will use this land as a collateral (cagaran) for a bigger loan against the land or asset to their company.

God forbid, if the company absconded with the loan, our lands would belong to the banks until the debt is paid off. In 100 years anything can happen, the initiator and the doer will be long expired, but our future generation will bear the burden. Can we have that in our conscience?

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