Baru on challenges and policy options to close development gaps in Sabah, Sarawak

Baru delivering his speech.

KUCHING, March 16: The federal government is aware that much work remains to be done in Sarawak and Sabah to reach a similar level of infrastructure and electrification as in West Malaysia, said Works Minister Baru Bian.

“We are determined to close the gap soon. Looking forward, transformation towards environmentally sustainable energy systems needs to be addressed at policy, planning and implementation level.

“As the Minister of Works, I am committed to doing my best to study and formulate policies to improve environmentally sustainable infrastructure development in the rural areas, especially in Sabah and Sarawak.”

Baru said this at the `Clean Energy Collaboration, Sustainable and Inclusive Energy Pathways for Sarawak and Malaysia Workshop’ organised by Save Rivers, Partners of Community Organisation (Pacos) Trust Sabah and the Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS) here today.

The workshop is also supported by Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab of the University of California, Berkeley.

Baru said the Works Ministry would keep pushing the idea of promoting and implementing sustainable infrastructure development through the Construction Industry Transformation Plan (CITP).

He said construction had a strong impact on the environment.

“The process can wreak havoc on the ecosystem and biodiversity, especially when care is not taken to prevent damage. Therefore, it is important to pursue sustainability and resilience in the effort to develop the country in a low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially conscious manner.

“With this strong focus, the federal government is now improving sustainability in construction and will continue to do so into the future. The development of new technology to help reduce the industry’s impact on the environment has become vital to the continued success of these ventures.

“The Ministry of Works at all points of time considers the life cycle of the built environment, including socio-economic issues, in urban development.”

On tropical rainforests, Baru said those in Sarawak and Sabah played a vital role in regulating global temperatures.

He told those present that rainforests worldwide offset man-made carbon dioxide emissions by almost 40 per cent, and tropical rainforests regulate global temperatures.

“We need to remember these factors when we talk about renewable energy. Any so-called clean energy policy that destroys primary forests is not clean. Neither are energy policies that displace indigenous communities. This is the simple truth.”

He quoted a native Indian saying, `Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish has been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realise we cannot eat money.’

“This is a very simple yet profound truth. Energy access can be achieved for all without violating these simple principles.

“The energy choices we make during this pivotal moment will carry huge consequences for our health, our climate, and our economy for decades to come. As I continue my efforts as Minister of Works, I will remember my humble beginnings and remember these simple truths.

“There is no business to be done on a dead planet, and human rights are key in keeping our beloved Sarawak alive.” — DayakDaily