Quarry safety: ‘Mining is under concurrent federal-state authority’

Chong Chieng Jen

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KUCHING, Oct 29: State DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen opines that mining issues are matters of concurrent jurisdiction where both the federal and state governments have a say in these issues affecting the environment.

He said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar should not use state autonomy as an excuse to cover his incompetence in protecting the safety of Sarawakians.

“You can fool some people but not me. Don’t use state autonomy to cover your incompetence,” he said in a press conference held at DAP headquarters yesterday.

Chong was responding to Wan Junaidi who told Sinchew Daily on Friday that DAP should reflect on its mistakes in Penang and not trying to shift attention by making excuses.

Wan Junaidi said federal environment laws did not apply to Sarawak as the state has autonomy towards its resources and environment. He went on to queston if Chong hoped for federal environment laws to be extended to Sarawak.

Chong who is Bandar Kuching MP and Wan Junaidi have locked horns since Wan Junaidi voiced out that the ministry had rejected an application from the developer to build the project.

In the wake of the Tanjung Bungah tragedy which claimed 11 lives, Wan Junaidi said the Department of Environment had issued a letter of rejection, noting the site is located next to a granite quarry which carried out blasting twice a month. The reasons given were insufficient buffer zones between the proposed project and quarrying activities, and steep slopes.

In response, Chong said the ministry was practicing double standards when it came to the safety guideline on the distance of housing projects from quarries, citing the case of Taman Mei Lee, 7th Mile which is only 200 metres from the blast site while Penang’s Taman Bungah is 715 metres from the nearest quarry.

In yesterday’s media conference, Chong who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman stressed that the opposition has been fighting for autonomy to enhance the government’s efficiency in providing services to the people.

“We fight for autonomy so that the government can be more efficient and can provide better for the people. We did not fight for autonomy to allow the state government to cover up the wrong-doing of their cronies,” said Chong, citing the name of a local company which owns the quarry near Taman Mei Lee at 7th Mile, Kuching.

“As minister, Wan Junaidi should act without fear and favour in the interest of the safety of the people,” said Chong, who is also Pakatan Harapan state chairman. — DayakDaily