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Media Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on Saturday, 22nd May 2010:

Public consultations a necessary pre-requisite to a clean energy future

Today, Prime Minister Najib Razak stated that the government needs to conduct an in-depth study before going ahead on nuclear power. It represents a healthy reversal of the government's previous suggestion that nuclear power had been given the green light.

Najib's comments were made following an overall negative reception to nuclear power in both his blog and a poll. Opponents to nuclear energy were in favour of renewable power.

I welcome the Prime Minister's statement that "all options for electricity generation, from biomass to wind, will be explored." This is indeed the correct approach and more in line with the Ninth Malaysia Plan's five fuel policy of oil, gas, coal, hydro and renewables.

It is important to note that nuclear has not previously been part of the government's approved energy policy. In fact the target for renewable energy was to have 350MW by 2010, itself a drastic drop from the previous target of 500-600MW by 2005. Malaysia should be far more ambitious in renewable energies, which do not include nuclear.

We are already a leading manufacturer of solar panels and their costs both here and worldwide have been on a downward trend.

Nuclear, on the other hand, represents rising and near permanent costs since nuclear waste management needs to safeguard hazardous materials with a radioactive half-life of hundreds of thousands of years.

A crucial aspect of examining energy supply options will involve developing sophisticated projections of our potential energy futures. Malaysia presently lacks these. Officials from TNB and government agencies still rely on a single projection that predicts exponential growth in electricity demand.

Such a graph seems to presume that a constant doubling of demand will occur over time. It seems unrealistic that the urban centres of Penang, Klang Valley, and Johor as well as the rest of Malaysia will increase demand at this rate.

It also seems to presume that government takes a passive policy role in managing demand. With the threat of global climate change all responsible governments in the world are taking steps to manage the demand for fossil fuel-based energy by reducing it and substituting supply with renewable energies.

Najib has already signalled his intention to take action against global warming. We need realistic energy future scenarios that incorporate progressive policy intervention and give fair weighting to the growing prospects for renewable energies.

I call on the Prime Minister to set up comprehensive public consultations on these matters and make them open to all parties because a safe, clean energy future for Malaysia is important to us all.

* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang



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