SEPA 2015-2016 Committee: From left standing; Committee members, Alice Mathew, Deric Chiew, Joannie Jomitol and Ang Choon Hong. Sitting; Veronica Tan (Treasurer), Lanash Thanda (President), Harjinder Kler (Vice President), Julia Hwong (Secretary) and Margaret Chin (Legal Officer).
Kota Kinabalu: Following Sabah Environmental Protection Association (SEPA) recent Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Karamunsing recently, the newly elected Executive Committee reiterated that they will continue to be vocal on critical issues that affect the State’s environment well being, particular when it is carried out without due process, which should always include ample public consultation.
SEPA points out that in the past few months alone, the media have been filled with environmental incidences of flash floods, hill cutting, water issues, pollution, communities’ livelihoods affected, human-wildlife conflict. All these factors in some way or another can be contributed to unsustainable development.
Defining "unsustainable developments” as development that occurs at the expense of future generations, SEPA said the State Government must ensure that safeguards placed in terms of laws, regulations and policies be adhered too to ensure that future generations do not suffer from mistakes made today.
SEPA, which is run strictly on a voluntary basis, saw the reelection of key position within the organisation with Lanash Thanda (President), Harjinder Kler (Vice President), Julia Hwong (Secretary), Margaret Chin (Legal Officer) and Committee members Alice Mathew and Joannie Jomitol. New member’s to the Executive Committee include Veronica Tan as Treasurer and Deric Chiew and Ang Choon Hong as Committee members.
The AGM also saw lively discussions on issues SEPA is directly involved in, including SEPA’s involvement with the Environmental Action Centre (EAC) which was established in 1996 following a Cabinet decision and was meant to be a smart partnership between the Government and an Non Governmental Organisation.
Over the last year and a half, a restructuring exercise was jointly conducted with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment (MTCE) to realign EAC to the original concept of the Cabinet decision made in 1996. New staff were hired and the mandate of administration of EAC falls under the jurisdiction of SEPA. However after the staff had been working for six months at the EAC Secretariat, the Ministry summarily dismissed these staff with no communication to SEPA.
SEPA’s Executive Committee and members at the AGM were deeply concerned with this turn of events and have written formally to MTCE for formal clarification to remedy this situation but have yet to receive an official reply from the Ministry. Furthermore, SEPA is concerned with the transparency of the funds and before any further restructuring is conducted, the issue of the staff and accounts should be cleared up in the interest of the public.
SEPA is apolitical will continue to be concerned and vocal on environmental issues as SEPA’s foremost concern is for the further of Sabah.