Produce scientific evidence on peat land first before criticising it, says Abang Johari
Posted on : 22 Dec 2020  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Abang Johari receiving roses as a welcome gift on his arrival at Tropi, accompanied by Manyin (on his right), Dr Lulie and others. Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING (Dec 22): Scientific evidence is important to convince the world that peat is useful in economic development, said the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

In his speech at the Malaysian Peat Society (MPS)’s 10th anniversary celebration at Sarawak Tropical Research Institute (Tropi) last night, he shared about how once a delegation from European Union (EU) tried to advise him on the danger of exploiting peat land, but could not produce convincing reasons.

“We must have scientific evidence to show whether something is right or wrong. We must give evidence to our conviction.

“Against that background we are supporting Tropi to do this research. Scientific research is important to us. We must try to get scientific evidence. In this age you can use artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics.

“Collect data and from that data we can derive certain solutions in order to face challenges when we use peat as part of our economic development,” he said.

Abang Johari stressed that Sarawak has to do it that way if it were to face any challenges ahead.

He said with new technology and application of new technology and data analysis, the derived outcome of that particular research can be shared with the rest of the world.

“Our objective is not only for Sarawak, not only for Malaysia. Let MPS, with Sarawak as a backbone, convince the world that peat is useful in economic development.

“Do further research and try to convince the world that carbon emissions is not only because of peat. On the other hand, Sarawak is committed to have clean energy. We also do not want to pollute the environment,” he said, adding that he is convinced MPS and Tropi will be able do it.

Abang Johari also pointed out that it is unavoidable to build roads, bridges and settlements on peat and that the people also have to survive.

“Recently we announced that we will build a centre for research of infectious diseases. For all you know, there are plants on peat that have the compounds for us to produce a vaccine against Covid-19.

“What is important is scientific evidence. That should be our way forward. With some money from Petronas of course we will allocate for research,” he said.

Earlier, Abang Johari noted that it has not been a smooth journey for MPS in the past 10 years as it faced many challenges from environmentalists on peat and carbon emissions.

However, he expressed his pride for the society’s accomplishments as well as Tropi’s contributions in helping to provide feedback for the government to formulate policies as far as peat is concerned.

“I am impressed by your ability to draw members with common interest and built it up into a cohesive MPS for a common cause of safeguarding peat land resources and well-being of the people of Sarawak amidst the impeding challenges and demands of political, socio-economic and technical scientific knowledge of the external environment,” he said.

Also present were Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong, Sarawak State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion, Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, MPS president Dr Lulie Melling, and others.