Prep work underway to ensure smooth transition as DOE staff set to join NREB by Jan 2025

Len Talif (third left) with wife Asiah on his left in a photo with guests including Janin (second left) at their Hari Raya open house on April 13, 2024.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 13: Preparations are underway, including staff training sessions, to ensure the smooth transition of the Department of Environment (DOE) Sarawak to the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) by January 1, 2025.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Urban Development Datuk Len Talif Salleh explained that preparations have been made for the devolution of certain powers related to the environment in Sarawak, particularly concerning scheduled and unscheduled waste.

“The devolution of power will occur in stages, not all at once, so negotiations and discussions will be ongoing (with Federal counterparts). It is a dynamic process.

“Presently, efforts are ongoing to ensure the competency and readiness of NREB staff to take over specific roles and responsibilities. So this year until next year, we will be providing training to NREB staff,” he told reporters during his and wife Datin Asiah Aweng’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at their residence in Demak here today.

He was responding to queries about the latest developments regarding the devolution of power as well as integration of DOE into NREB following the Sarawak government’s successful reclaiming of full control and authority over environment matters based on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) a year ago.

In February this year, it was reported that over 160 DOE staff are expected to be absorbed into the NREB, whereby DOE will cease to exist in Sarawak then.

Len Talif and wife Asiah (standing) mingling with guests at their Hari Raya open house on April 13, 2024.

Additionally, Len Talif proposed that NREB engage DOE staff to assist in handling and managing environmental affairs under the MA63.

While acknowledging that the devolution of power process will take time, he however emphasised the importance of maintaining a close relationship and collaboration between the Sarawak and Federal governments, along with relevant agencies and departments.

“Even during this transitional period, we have dialogues and in-depth discussions in every efforts to ensure the smooth transition and devolution of power without disruptions,” he emphasised.

NREB operates under the purview of the Ministry of Energy and Environmental Sustainability, overseeing all environmental-related activities, while DOE operates at the Federal level.

The transfer of environmental autonomy is expected to be realised by Jan 1, 2025, with concerted efforts underway to ensure a seamless transition of powers within the stipulated timeframe.

Among those who visited the open house include Deputy Minister of Public Health and Housing Datuk Penguang Manggil, Meradong assemblyman Datuk Ding Kuong Hiing , Petros Group chief executive officer Janin Girie, and Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association president Dato Patrick Liew. — DayakDaily