By: Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Dec 22: The desire to provide food on the table for the people has prompted the State government to continue developing peat land in Sarawak, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
However he cautioned that in order to develop peat land in Sarawak, there must be proper scientific research to provide the necessary proof that such development will not be detrimental to the environment.
“What I want to do is to put food on the table for our people. That is the main reason why we put money in research, including on peat soil,” Abang Johari said at the Malaysian Peat Society (MPS) 10th Anniversary held at Sarawak Tropical Peat Research Institute (TROPI) near here last night.
He added that his administration has been putting emphasis on research and development with the setting up of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research in order to carry out the necessary scientific research especially on the development of peat soil.
“We must have scientific evidence to show something is wrong or right. We must do and give evident of our conviction.
“To do that, we need both Artificial Intelligence and data analytics to collect your data and from that data, you can derive solutions in order to face the challenges when we use peat as part of our economic development,” he emphasized.
The Chief Minister pointed out that developing peat soil in Sarawak was not just about planting palm oil as host of other activities such as building bridges, roads and settlements must also mean that peat soil would have to be utilised.
“You cannot avoid building roads on peat. You also build bridges crossing from one bank to another also on peat. Settlements are also built on peat and people have to survive. But what is important is scientific evident by scientists. That should be our way forward,” he reiterated.
The Chief Minister also hit out at critics for accusing the state of deforestation of peat soil for the oil palm plantation.
“To me, a palm tree is a tree. It has leaves and they also emit oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. I think (the critics) are not able to convince me and they left me alone,” he said.
He said in order to go forward, Sarawak must apply new technology to develop its peat soil that must be based on collected data and scientific evidence which could be shared with the rest of the world.
At the function, the Chief Minister also pledged to continue funding TROPI to carry out its research and development on peat.
Assistant Minister of Assistant Minister for Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif and TROPI director cum chairman of MPS Dr Lulie Melling also spoke at the function.
Also present at the function were Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong and State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion. — DayakDaily