CM: Sarawak to tap Ontario’s expertise to manage its fresh water bodies

Abang Johari presenting a souvenir to Jones after the courtesy call.

KUCHING, Oct 3: Sarawak’s man-made water bodies will be orderly managed and developed to create more economic benefits for the people, instead of merely using them to generate power.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, during his visit to Toronto, said the state could learn a lot from Canada in terms of development programmes to transform its hydro dams into other economic assets.

He said Ontario province had strong experience in the management and development of water bodies. Toronto is the capital of Ontario province.

The chief minister is currently leading a delegation consisting of ministers and key government officials on a five-day study to Ontario, where they met with the province’s Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sports Sylvia Jones on Tuesday.

“The state government is seeking to develop a close collaboration with the Ontario provincial government in order to learn from the province’s wealth of experience in managing fresh water bodies, particularly the Great Lakes and hydro dams,” Abang Johari said in a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office today.

He expressed the state’s intention to send officials to Ontario to study closely relevant aspects of water management, such as water policy, water legislation, scientific research, lake development and environmental enforcement and compliance.

Abang Johari (fourth from left) and members of the state delegation in discussion with Jones during the meeting.

Abang Johari told Jones, who was representing Ontario’s premier, that Sarawak was drafting a law to regulate the use and govern the development of man-made lakes in the state: That would provide for a body to be instituted to enforce the law with Canada’s standards to benchmark upon.

“The body, which would probably be called Lake Development Authority, shall ensure that our lakes are properly managed and developed,” he explained.

Meanwhile, another group of state officials visited the Ontario Power Generation (OPG) headquarter in Toronto. They were briefed, among others, on Ontario’s electricity system and OPG’s indigenous relations.

The Sarawak delegation also visited the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, where they were given an overview of the various aspects of Ontario’s water policy.

They also toured University of Waterloo’s Water Institute, which is located about two hours’ drive from Toronto. While there, they were given insights into various aspects of water-related researches at the institute.

Key members of the delegation included Minister of Utilities Datuk Seri Stephen Rundi Utom, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah and State Secretary Tan Sri Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani.

Other members included Assistant Minister of Water Supply Datuk Liwan Lagang, Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datuk Len Talif Salleh, Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi and key officials of various relevant agencies.

Today, the delegation is scheduled to visit the Sir Adam Beck Hydro Electric Plant South of Toronto, situated near the Niagara Falls. — DayakDaily