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  • Nur Syafiqah Abdullah

Sabah Govt told to reveal details on power purchase from Sarawak

Phoong Jin Zhe

9 Aug 2021

By Nur Syafiqah Abdullah

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor has been urged to reveal more details on the agreement to purchase power from Sarawak which has been inked by Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) with Sarawak Energy Berhad’s (SEB) subsidiary, Syarikat SESCO Berhad.

Citing a report, Luyang State Assemblyman Phoong Jin Zhe said it is stated under the agreement that Sabah will import an initial 30MW to 50MW for 15 years via a 31km 275kV double circuit transmission line that will run from Lawas, Sarawak to Mengalong in Sipitang, Sabah.

However, the selling price agreed by both state companies was not revealed at all.

“It would raise great concerns if the selling price was too high, it could also put Sabahans at risk to bear higher unreasonable electricity tariff.

"Therefore, the government must come clean on the selling price and details of the deal to and uphold transparency and accountability," he said in a statement today.

Phoong also mentioned that it is in fact not a fresh idea to purchase power from Sarawak to overcome the issue of unstable and insufficient electricity supply in Sabah as it was first previously proposed by then State Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.

However, the selling price has been a great concern as we do not want it (purchase power from power) to jeopardise the interest of Sabahans eventually, he added.

He further elaborated that on October 11, 2018 the same matter has been discussed in a formal meeting between Shafie and Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg during a courtesy visit.

“Shafie said if the price offered by Sarawak is fair enough, it would make better business sense to buy from a neighbour rather than setting up costly power plants.

"Although I cautiously welcomed the idea of purchasing power from Sarawak, it is crucial to ensure that the deal must benefit Sabahans and eventually solve the problem of electricity shortage in Sabah.

“That’s the reason why I am urging the government to reveal the details of the deal especially on how it can be cost-efficient for Sabah," said Phoong who was the state Minister of Youth and Sports in Shafie’s Cabinet.

He also reminded that the distribution cost and logistic cost could be a factor that would push electricity tariff higher in Sabah.

“I share similar concerns with my colleague, the state assemblyman for Elopura, Calvin Chong on this matter.

“I seconded the comment of Chong who proposed that the state government should look into alternative power generation such as biogas and biomass," he stated.

Meanwhile, Phoong also questioned the progress of returning SESB to the state government from the federal government where the proposal was approved during PH-Warisan federal government era.

“I hope the state government can continue to pursue this idea and proposal as it is to safeguard Sabahan’s rights and to make sure Sabahans have control in regulating power and electricity supply as a whole industry.

“At the end, the state government must explain the future plan on electricity generation. It is simple, Sabah definitely needs to have a bigger capacity to cater the demand of electricity supply, which means we need to have more power plants.”

“During Prime Minister Datuk Najib Razak’s time, there was a proposal to build 300MW Gas Power Plant in the East Coast of Sabah. Now, what is the planning of the PN federal and state government on this?”

Phoong has also submitted a written parliamentary question on this matter to the secretary of Sabah State Assembly that will be convening on Aug 24-26.


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