Sabah govt agreed to provisional framework agreement with company questioned by Sabah AG
2 Dec 2021
By Wartawan Nabalu News
KOTA KINABALU: The State Government had on Nov 12 agreed to a provisional framework agreement with Hoch Standard Pte Ltd (HS), a Singaporean company whose authenticity has been questioned by the State Attorney-General of Sabah yesterday.
In exchange, HS has made several representations to the State Government that it has access to financial networks to realise the objectives of the Nature Conservation Agreement (NCA).
Chief Conservator of Forests Datuk Frederick Kugan in the statement on Nov 12 said the NCA has as its main objects the conservation and protection of tropical
rainforests through the monetization of carbon stored in standing trees in addition to natural capital benefits in the natural forest environment.
He said the focus of the NCA will be on forests classified previously as Totally Protected Areas (TPAs) - areas already locked in for conservation and protection under various state laws and international treaties.
He was responding to an allegation made in an article by Mongabay on Nov 9 which mentioned that two million hectares of forest in Sabah is being signed over to a group of foreign companies to monetise the State’s natural assets – namely carbon.
The size, said the conservation website, is the size of Slovenia and more than half of Sabah’s forest land.
Frederick dismissed the claim and stated that the TPAs in question ‘were not, are not and will never be in
danger of commercial exploitation or deforestation'.
He also mentioned that the NCA has yet to be finalised as there were outstanding issues to be resolved.
However, Sabah AG Datuk Nor Asiah Yusof issued a letter to Dr Ho Choon Hou of HS, the man who was claimed to be the person behind the company.
“This letter is to inform you that upon inquiry our Chambers has ascertained that you are neither a Director nor shareholder of Hoch Standard Pte Ltd (the 'said Company'), contrary to the representations made by you to the State Government of Sabah and upon which the latter relied.
“We also state that but for your representations as a director/shareholder of the said Company, the State Government would not have entered into the Agreement and as such the same is now rendered voidable for, among others, misrepresentation on your part.
“We also state that resultant from your misrepresentations as already stipulated, the purported Hoch Standard Pte Ltd letter to the Chief Minister dated the 22nd of October 2021 authorising Stan Lassa Golokin to sign the Agreement for the said Company is null, void and of no legal effect,” the letter stated,” the letter stated.
Ho was also reminded to not proceed or act upon the said Agreement in any way until he can provide within 14 days the following as required by the Chambers:
1) Three years audited accounts for Hoch Standard Pte Ltd;
2) Evidence of funding and / or proof of funds sufficient to finance the Nature Conservation Management Plan (NCMP);
3) Evidence or proof of partnership and / or collaboration with Temasek Holdings, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Optimus Foundation (UBS);
4) Evidence of funding or proof of funding from UBS Group AG, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Barclays, Julius Baer, JP Morgan, Goldman Sach, Blackstone, Carlyle Group and / or KKR;
5) Letter of appointment in respect of Messrs. Peter & Kim and evidence that the said firm as 'UN-Compliant'; and
6) Evidence of collaboration with the following Scientific/Fintech Partners: Harvard University, MIT, Cornell, University of Queensland, Curtin University, Melbourne University and the Commonwealth Science and Independent Research Organisation (CSIRO).