PETALING JAYA, 30 April 2009: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) has questioned the federal government’s decision to approve the construction of an undersea cable so that the Bakun hydroelectric dam in Sarawak can supply power to Peninsula Malaysia.
PKR deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali said the party was “shocked” by the cabinet approval for the undersea cable.
Citing the December 2006 Taiwan earthquake that damaged undersea internet cables, he said PKR was concerned with the consequences should a natural disaster damage the undersea electric cables.
The Taiwan earthquake damaged undersea cables resulting in internet connections being disrupted in Asia.
“While there can be re-routing with the internet — and even then there was severe disruption that lasted for weeks — there cannot be with electricity, or not without extremely expensive redundancy,” Syed Husin said in a statement today.
He was responding to the announcement by Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui that the cabinet had approved the undersea power transmission cable between the southern tip of Sarawak and Johor to channel electricity via the bed of the South China Sea.
“Where is the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) and the risk management plan on which the decision to go ahead was based? Is this yet another case of do first and EIA afterwards?” said Syed Husin.
PKR also urged the government to publicise the figures to substantiate their claim that it would be cheaper to have cables and transmission than to build generators in the peninsula.
Syed HusinSyed Husin said that priority should be given to Sarawakians to ensure they all had access to affordable electricity since there was currently inadequate supply in rural areas.
“The minister responsible is surely familiar with the widespread sentiment amongst Sarawakians that the peninsular benefits unfairly from the resources of Sarawak.
“We are certain that the people of the peninsular want Sarawakians to be the first beneficiary of Bakun. We do not want the situation to continue where poor rural folk have to pay RM60 a month for something like four hours of electricity a day,” said Syed Husin.
He also questioned the different figures that have been cited for the Bakun project.
“The Star reported the minister concerned as saying that the peninsula will be supplied with 10,000 megawatts. How can that be when Bakun has a rated generating capacity of 2,400 megawatts?” asked Syed Husin.