KUCHING, Sept 13 — Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today reiterated the state government’s commitment to safeguard the environment and to sustainably manage and conserve natural resources.
“Sustainable development is always a priority agenda of the state government and we are committed to striking a balance between the need for development and safeguarding the wellbeing of our people,” he said at the presentation of the Ninth Chief Minister’s Environmental Awards (CMEA) 2019/2020 organised by the state’s Natural Resources and Environmental Board (NREB) here.
He said the 10-year Sarawak Post Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS 2030) is aimed to prosper the state and the people while simultaneously protecting the environment.
“Our emphasis on environmental sustainability is to pave the way for more investment flow into Sarawak that will co-create solutions, more green jobs and business opportunities to drive our economy in a sustainable manner,” he said.
Abang Johari said the amendments of the Natural Resources and Environment Ordinance (Amendment) Bill 2019 have enabled 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 (NCL) for commercial purposes is now regulated to ensure that the implementation of socio-economic transformation projects is 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,” he added.
In addition, he said 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.
He said this revision is necessary for the state to prepare under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), such as the transfer of autonomy and to accept additional responsibility in managing environmental matters under the current Federal Environment Quality Act 1974.
“In this respect, I am urging NREB to be better prepared and to plan strategically to chart its direction for the next ten years, with adequate resources and competent manpower, supported by effective and adaptable legislation, regulations, guidelines and rules and equipped with a technological cutting edge system,” he said.