Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2022 passes unanimously in DUN after third reading

A file photo of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex fronting the Sarawak River.

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, May 18: The Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2022 which seeks control over Sarawak’s airspace, the emission of carbon dioxide and the possible monetisation of carbon dioxide has been passed unanimously in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly today following its third reading.

Deputy Minister in Premier of Sarawak Department Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali (Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations) who tabled the Bill gave her assurance that all suggestions, ideas and recommendations which have been made during the debate will be taken into consideration in the formulation of the rules in relation to the Bill.

At the same time, she promised that as a prudent government, the State government will also give proper attention to all matters relating to the spectrum and telecommunications networks, and also the safety, security and environment integrity issues which may arise in the process of regulating carbon storage.

“I would like to re-emphasise here and in line with the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030 (PCDS 2030) on environmental sustainability. There is a need to ensure sustainable economic activities through the adoption of new technologies and innovations, continuation of environmentally sound practices and strategies such as greening efforts and improving enforcement of regulatory frameworks.

“To achieve the above objectives, it is necessary to amend our current laws to comply with new practices and strategies for promoting environmental sustainability as well as to secure opportunities for new sources of revenues for the State through regulating and controlling the use of land for carbon storage and the use of spectrum in the column of airspace above the land.

“This is also to safeguard the State’s constitutional and legislative authority over land use in the State including land which is part of the Continental Shelf within the boundary of the State,” said Sharifah Hasidah.

On the clarification sought by Padungan assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen (PH-DAP), on the two intentions of the State government in relation to carbon storage, namely whether it is for monetising revenue or using of admission of carbon, she said the amendment was intended to regulate land use for carbon storage.

She said such measures would result in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by oil and gas companies and in the process, the carbon dioxide captured would either being stored in areas approved by the State Planning Authority, or to be used for industries like the production of blue hydrogen, blue ammonia or bio fuel.

“Consequentially, carbon brings additionally source of revenue to the State and enables the generation of carbon credit units. So there is really no conflict here.”

She also gave the assurance that the State government will conform with international standards and practices in implementing carbon storage projects.

As for the issue of the State’s spectrum, she said the amendment seeks to enable the State to exercise its regulatory rights over the use of spectrum in the airspace above land in Sarawak.

“This is for us to regulate the spectrum. It is not in any way in conflict with the Federal Constitution.

“I wish to reiterate the State government’s intention is to ensure that the service providers extend telecommunication services to the rural areas, so that the rural population is not left behind when the state proceeds with its plan for digital economy.” — DayakDaily