Sarawak managing environmental matters following autonomy transfer from fed govt

Abang Johari (second right) receiving a memento from Peggy while from left Naroden, Awang Tengah, Dr Rundi and Abdul Karim look on. Photo Credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas).

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KUCHING, Sept 13: The Sarawak government has been empowered with the rights to manage environmental matters in the State following the transfer of autonomy from the federal government.

In view of that, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg urges the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) to be prepared and plan strategically to chart its direction for the next 10 years.

“The amendment of the Natural Resources and Environment Ordinance (Amendment) Bill 2019 has enabled the NREB to strengthen the regulatory mechanism for sustainable management of natural resources and the protection of environmental quality in Sarawak.

“With the amendment, open burning activities on Native Customary Land (NCR) for commercial purposes is now regulated to ensure that the implementation of socio-economic transformation projects and programmes in the State are carried out in a sustainable manner.

“It has also been amended to increase penalties to RM100,000 for all environmental offences on land pollution, inland water contamination and open burning.

“In addition, the amendment of the Ordinance also includes categorisation of the NREB staff to be public officers within the meaning of the Environmental Quality Act (EQA) 1974 to enable transfer of enforcement power from the Federal Department of Environment Malaysia.

“This revision is necessary for the State to prepare under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) – Transfer of Autonomy, to accept additional responsibility in managing environmental matters under the current Federal EQA 1974,” he said in his speech during the 9th Chief Minister’s Environmental Award 2019/2020 award presentation ceremony at a hotel here today.

Abang Johari stressed that matters on environment have to be well-planned, consistent and concerted unlike other areas where efforts can be ad-hoc and piecemeal.

He thus emphasised it is important for NREB to be equipped with adequate resources and competent manpower as well as supported by effective and adaptable legislation to play its mandated roles and responsibilities.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Utilities Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Assistant Minister of Urban Development and Resources Datu Len Talif Salleh, Assistant Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development Datuk Naroden Majais, Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports Datuk Snowdan Lawan, Sarawak Business Federation (SBF) deputy president Datuk Philip Ting, NREB Controller Peggy Ronin Edin were among those present at the event. — DayakDaily