Tham denies any vested interest in coal power plant
State Science Adviser Datuk Tham Nyip Shen has categorically denied having any vested interest in the proposed coal-fired power plant. In a statement issued here yesterday, Tham clarified that his chairing of the public briefing on the relocation of the proposed coal-fired power plant to Sandakan, which was held in the recently, was aimed chiefly to gather the views of Sandakan folks on the said issue and, to present them to the State Government later. He thus expressed regret over the baseless accusations made by certain quarters, including representatives of the Sandakan Chinese Chamber of Commerce (SCCC), that he was pushing for the implementation of the proposed project as he probably had something to gain from it. Tham said he was compelled to clarify on this and to set the record straight that he was not in any way involved in the project nor had begot something to gain from it. He said the clarification would hopefully stop an ongoing, widespread malicious accusation levelled against him by those who despised him, especially following his chairing of the public briefing on the said project. “I wish to clarify that I have got nothing to do with the coal-fired power plant project. Right from the beginning, I was never involved in any discussion on the project nor intended to have any share in it. “Hence, it is absolutely unfair and malicious for someone to simply accuse me of having vested interest in the project,” he stressed. Tham reiterated that his presence at the first briefing session in Kota Kinabalu several weeks ago and subsequently in Sandakan was in his capacity as the State Science Adviser and, with the chief aim of better explaining to the public on the new generation coal power plant, which is much cleaner as compared to the older generation coal power plant. He said as a matter of fact, he cannot be bothered with who gets the project and what would be the type of power plant, stressing that all that he was concerned about was there must be sufficient, affordable and -reliable power supply for Sandakan folks. Tham said his more than a decade of political career had allowed him to better understand the people’s suffering as a result of the absence of reliable power supply. “I sincerely believe the SCCC too could agree with me on this. But it would be a bit too much for them to simply accuse me of something which I was not involved in, in their bid to protest over the project,” he said. This was especially so after he had during the briefing session as well as through phone calls later, clarified on his position on the issue, he said. He thus hoped all parties concerned, the SCCC in particular, would stop smearing him after reading this. On his argument with the Sabah Environment Protection Association (SEPA) President, Wong Tack during the briefing session especially on the contention that both he and Wong should stay out of the issue since both of them were not from Sandakan, Tham said such contention had been misunderstood. He explained that when he requested Wong not to interrupt the briefing session, it was simply because the briefing session was meant for the Sandakan people. “Even though Wong had attended the same briefing before elsewhere, it is only fair that he allows the people of Sandakan to listen to the briefmg and later decide I on whether they want to accept the project or not,” Tham said. He regretted that Wong had instead said he (Tham) should trot be chairing the said briefing session since he too was not from Sandakan. Tham said while he could agree that a democratic and open Government should be able to accept dissenting views and criticisms from the people, he nonetheless stressed that for the same token, one should not attempt to prevent others from listening to what the Government had to say, especially when it was something crucial for the people. “I sincerely believe the people are wise enough to decide on what is good and what is not for themselves. Please do not insult their intelligence,” he said.