(3 July 2000)

KOTA KINABALU: The supposed mineral resources beneath the Maliau Basin should be left there for future generations to decide.

"Future generations will have the benefit of new technology, alternative energy sources, knowledge-economy and things still unknown to us," said former Chief Minister Datuk Yong Teck Lee.

Speaking at the installation dinner of the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu at a hotel here Saturday night, Yong stressed there was no need to mine beneath the conservation areas of the Maliau Basin.

Yong, who is MP for Gaya and Assemblyman for Likas, said the State Government was aware of the pressures to open up the Maliau Basin for government revenue and private profit.

He said that in order to lock in the conservation of the Maliau Basin, known as "The Lost World" and identified as one of the World Heritage sites, the State Government gazetted the area as Class 1 Protection and as Heritage Conservation under the Cultural Heritage Conservation Enactment 1977.

"This is so that the Government cannot approve the area for exploitation, whether it is logging or mining without getting the approval of the Legislative Assembly.

"The legal requirement to seek legislative approval, and unavoidable public knowledge, is meant to be a deterrent to any abuse by the executive branch of Government."

"Yong said it was felt at that time that the Heritage Conservation legislation stood a better chance of success on the basis that the Government would need to be accountable to the people before any degazetting of the protection. 

He was Chief Minister when the Cultural Heritage Bill was tabled at the Assembly in 1997.

He told Rotarians and their guests present at the dinner that if the Maliau Basin was opened up, it could attract illegal loggers, hunting of protected species, rubbish dumping and various other damaging consequences.

"Therefore, I am most amazed that a 'Monkey or Gold' poser is today being considered at all.

"If mining were to be allowed, the minerals would be exploited. After the gold has been taken out, the monkeys would be gone - forever. My prayer is that the gold is not used as an excuse to do monkey business," said Yong.

The choices, he felt, need not be a "gold or monkey" dilemma.






"Under conservation, with research, education and technological progress, we can benefit from the monkeys, the wildlife and the eco-systems and bio-diversity," he added.

Yong expressed the hope that the national seminar on mineral industry would be "conservation friendly" and that the Government would uphold the resolutions of the bio-diversity international conference that was held at the same time as the minerals seminar in Kota Kinabalu.

Chief Minister Datuk Osu Sukam had said, after the weekly Cabinet meeting last Wednesday, that the State Government would not rush into making decisions to exploit the precious mineral resources, particularly those identified within areas already protected as natural or cultural heritage sites by the State Assembly, such as the Maliau Basin.

Osu said the Government would keep an open mind on the matter that had yet to be raised in the Cabinet, pending receiving a report on the proposals and solutions derived from the national seminar on the mineral industry...

Released in Daily Express on 3 July, 2000

Datuk Yong Teck Lee
Member of Parliament for P150 Gaya / State Assemblyman for N13 Likas

Maliau has abundance of coal, not gold...... (11 July 2000) Kota Kinabalu: The State Mineral and Geoscience Department Malaysia clarified Monday that the mineral said to be in abundance in the Maliau Basin is coal and not gold.

Tungah Surat on behalf of the Department's Director hoped this would clear the air on the matter published in several local newspapers recently.

"For the information of all and to our knowledge, the mineral that could be found in Maliau Basin is coal and not gold".

The poser of "monkey or gold" was mooted by Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik when delivering his keynote address at the national seminar on the Malaysian Minerals Industry at the Pacific Sutera here late last month.

He had said in the press conference that Sabah, including Maliau Basin, has been identified as having an abundance of commercial mineral deposits and it was up to the State Government and the people to set the direction.

In the same function, Chief Minister Datuk Osu Sukam had said that the State Government would only deliberate on whether to exploit the minerals underneath the identified areas particularly Maliau Basin.

He also hinted that mining could be the next income earner for Sabah following the drastic drop in revenue from timber.....



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