Wan Junaidi suggests Sarawak export sand to other countries instead of Singapore

Wan Junaidi (centre) receiving a memento from Bandar Baru Semariang Penghulu Amat Amin while the former's wife Datin Seri Feona Junaidi looks on.

KUCHING, Nov 3: Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar suggests the Sarawak government find other countries to export its sand to as at the moment only Johor is allowed to do so based on an agreement between the republic and the state.

He said there has been numerous applications for Approval Permit (AP) from other states in the Peninsula to export their sand to Singapore but none have been approved because that arrangement.

“In principle, what the Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing said is actually okay, except the question of exporting it (sand) to Singapore. That will not be possible at the moment,” said Wan Junaidi.

“There have been other (Peninsula) states requesting but was not approved. So I suggest to look for somewhere else to export as there is many other countries requiring sand such as South Korea, China, Japan, Maldives, and our nearest neighbour Brunei too,” he told DayakDaily on Saturday.

Junaidi also pointed out that the issuance of permits has been frozen since 1998 and has not been lifted in general.

However, he said, under special circumstances, at the discretion of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and himself, AP application from a state to export to any country could be approved when there is a need.

Wan Junaidi explained that an example would be the siltation situation that has been making rivers more shallow in the Peninsula lately which needed to be addressed quickly.

He said instead of wasting the government’s money to deepen the rivers, licences would be issued to contractors to dredge and extract sand to be imported — thus, the siltation problem will be solved, the government saves money and the contractors can earn money.

He was commenting on Masing’s remark on exporting the state’s sand to Singapore, which was reported by the DayakDaily on Nov 29.

Earlier, Wan Junaidi was officiating at the closing of the Tilawah Al-Quran at Dewan Surau Darul Hijrah in Bandar Baru Semariang here, attended by some 1,000 Muslims.

Touching on dredging and extraction of sand, Wan Junaidi highlighted that the procedure would be the same as what had been practiced in the Peninsula, where if it is within three nautical miles of the shore, the licensing authority would be as per state.

Anything beyond that, he added, the approving authority would have to be the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

“But in the case of Sarawak, there have been some discussions or dispute in the question of the continental shelf, so the better thing would be for the state to have approval from the Ministry to mine the sand either within or outside the three nautical miles. Of course if it is outside the three nautical miles, we (Ministry) would like to be in the committee in the decision,” said Wan Junaidi.

Another condition, he added, is to get the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) done to ensure that the environment is protected, and once that has been done and approved, then the dredging and extraction either within or outside the three nautical miles of the shore can be considered. — DayakDaily