Malaysiakini Letter

Why outages in Sabah after 51 years of Malaysia?

Chan Foong Hin  |  Published:  |  Modified:

It is totally embarrassing and insulting for Sabahans who will celebrate their independence from Britain at the end of the month and the 51 years anniversary of the joint formation of Malaysia together with Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore (which left afterwards), when the Sabahans are still suffering with major infrastructural problems which have already been resolved in our partners' regions.

There is seldom a major blackout in Sarawak and the peninsula, but it’s a norm for Sabah. Sabahana can’t tolerate with this any more, and we should demand for a major makeover of Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB).

It was reported not long time ago that, our Sabahan leader who holds the position of federal Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister, Maximus Ongkili, has announced that SESB  would undergo a major reinvention as part of the government’s moves to further improve the power supply situation in Sabah.

He has mentioned, too, that construction and commissioning of the two power stations in Kimanis (SPR Energy and Kimanis Power) with a capacity of 100MW and 285MW respectively, would potentially provide the grid system in Sabah with a daily margin of between 150MW and 220MW.

So, why do we still facing the never-ending blackout problem? This morning the whole Sabah Eastern Coastal Zone, namely Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau experienced a regional power disruption due to the transmission line from Kolopis to Segaliud had tripped. It was about four hours of electricity disruption, many businesses and daily living were affected, but our poor public has no chance to voice out their grievances and ae forced to accept the losses.

The answer is simply that our poor distribution and transmission system, with about 80 percent for the electricity cables being of the old types, can’t go along well with the increased power supply. Maximus has promised that the federal government has set aside RM1.8 billion to enhance transmission and distribution of electricity in Sabah within the next three years.

I would like to take Dr Maximus to a serious task - get the RM1.8 billion to spend in next year’s Budget, which would be tabled in Parliament this coming October. Sabahans can’t tolerate ‘No Action Talk Only’ type of lip service, we want action.

Maximus has highlighted that SESB would undergo a major makeover. What are the details? Re-Borneonise SESB to a state-owned company, will it no longer be a Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) subsidiary? He should disclose his master plan on energy policy for Sabah.

Maximus also talked about “everybody is accountable for the key performance index (KPI)”. But he also admitted that the System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI) target of 350 minutes for Sabah might not be achievable this year due to the Jan 17 statewide blackout.

Thus, does Maximus accountable for the KPI of SAIDI for Sabah? If yes, please specify it. I won’t ask Dr to resign, but please, get the RM1.8 billion to replace the old cables in the next year budget.

CHAN FOONG HIN is Sri Tanjong assemblyperson-cum-Sabah DAP vice-chairperson.

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