Abang Johari cuts the anniversary cake flanked by Xing (right) and Ing Huong. From front second left are Tiang and Lau, while Soon Koh is at front sixth left. – Photo by Peter Boon

SIBU (Sept 18): Replanting degraded forests in the state with fast-growing tree species and converting the wood waste into renewable energy could be a new area of business, said the Premier.

According to Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, this new energy source could even be exported in time to come.

“Renewable, last time (we) talked only about hydro, then solar, and wind but now, I went to one factory in Norway, where they now use, that is, the timber waste turned into what they call wood pellets.

“In England, they produce power – 2,500 megawatts from wood pellets. Meaning what we do here – we plant and replant our degraded forest area with new fast-growing species and that become a feedstock to produce pellets for us to produce power – as an additional power to our green (energy),” he said at the Sarawak Central Chiang Hsia Huang Clan Association’s 63rd anniversary dinner here last night.

He said more opportunities could come from exporting the wood pellets.

“In other words, no longer just cutting down trees and selling them – we plant the trees and take their waste and turn into energy.

“And that is a new area of business. And here, I think the experts are all the Huangs or Wongs – experts in timber. In other words, we can replant our degraded forests with fast-growing trees and then, trees will produce oxygen, and then you can have a cycle for you to produce these wood pellets and it becomes renewable,” Abang Johari said.

He also shared on Sarawak’s efforts to produce hydrogen, which has been described as a fuel of the future.

He pointed out that Sarawak has been doing its level best to control or mitigate carbon emissions.

“I am sure the Chinese community who have a long civilisation of economics and business – we can work together to produce this fuel or power that is environmentally friendly – no carbon emissions.

“We start to cool down the planet so that less floods, less heat – people can live happily. And this is what Sarawak’s economy is all about,” he said.

The Premier also stressed that financial protocols have changed as banks globally now focus on environmental social governance (ESG).

“Unless, your business complies with ESG, then they can finance you.

“If your business is based on energy that emits a lot of carbon – the banks may be reluctant to give you funding because what the international banking community has agreed on is that they will only fund projects that are relevant to the issue of climate change.

“In other words, we have to change now to a new economy. And I am sure that the Wong Clan can change – that will help our economy,” he said.

The Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Kuching, Xing Wei Ping, as well as Sarawak Central Chiang Hsia Huang Clan Association chairman Wong Ing Huong, also spoke at the dinner.

Among some 1,800 present were Deputy Minister for Public Health, Housing and Local Government Michael Tiang; Sarawak Central Chiang Hsia Huang Clan Association adviser and Bawang Assan assemblyman Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh; Temenggong Dato Vincent Lau; Pemanca Datuk Jason Tai; and chief organising chairman Wong Siong Boon.