New Sabah Times, Photo Credit to New Sabah Times
clock 27-12-2017
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Opposition Calls for White Paper on SESB Privatization Fiasco

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The state government must come out with a white paper on Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd's (SESB) privatization fiasco, demanded opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sabah.

Its chairman, Christina Liew said this is necessary in order to ascertain what are the real contributing factors to the sorry state that SESB has come to, after close to two decades of privatization.

The monopoly power supplier in Sabah was said to be "on the verge of bankruptcy”, according to the Minister of the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry Dr Maximus Ongkili last week.

Ongkili was reported to have said that the fate of loss-making SESB hinged on an ongoing discussion among its major shareholders Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry (KeTTHA) and Ministry of Finance (MoF).

TNB owns 82.75 percent of SESB and the Sabah State Government holds the remaining stake.

"The people of Sabah deserve to know the truth behind the SESB privatization. It's rather outrageous that despite being the sole power supplier in the state, with a customer base of more than 600,000, SESB could end up in such a deplorable state after close to two decades of privatization.

"With the white paper, we shall be able to ascertain whether the fiasco was really due to a higher energy generation cost or was it due to a flawed privatization scheme right from the beginning, or mismanagement and some hidden causes like unreasonable and exorbitant purchase of power from the Independent Power Producers?” said Liew who is also the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sabah chairman cum Api-Api Assemblywoman in a response issued on Monday, 25 December.

She also proposed that an independent forensic audit be carried out on SESB's account.

While noting that the white paper should also provide solutions on how best to salvage SESB, she hoped it would include a proposal for the state government to take it back and manage it.

"If Sarawak could manage its own power supply well, I believe we too should be able to do the same, unless of course if there's a ‘lopsided deal' in place to benefit a privileged few" she said.

Liew added that if Pakatan Harapan wins the coming general election and gets to form the new government, it would know what to do to turn SESB around.

Meanwhile, she also expressed regret that the management of SESB has not responded to her recent call for an independent inquiry into the death of its employees, altogether three of them, following an explosion and fire at the SESB substation at Wawasan Plaza, late last month.

She said this inevitably raised the question whether there's something to hide about the tragic incident. She thus hoped the management of SESB could come forward to state its stand on this issue, without further delay.


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