Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) put the blame on last Saturday’s Silantik coalmine disaster in Pantu, Sri Aman which claimed four lives and injured 30 others, on the authorities.
He said that the state authorities had ignored calls to conduct a thorough investigation into a similar incident two years ago.
“Two years ago we had urged the state government to look into the matter after four Chinese national coalminers lost their lives at the same coal mine.
“It is unfortunate that the call for a thorough investigation into that fatal incident and mitigation of environmental and social impacts was ignored,” said Sarawak PKR vice-chairperson See Chee How.
“Following the latest incident, PKR once again calls on the Chief Minister Adenan Satem to immediately order for the setting up of an independent investigation into the Silantik coal mine disaster which had taken the precious lives of three foreign workers and 30 others injured, of which 20 are said to be critical,” he said.
An Indonesian died yesterday at the Sarawak General Hospital, bringing the total number of deaths to four.
Of the 20 seriously injured, six of them were flown to peninsular Malaysia by RMAF mercy flight.
In a statement issued last night, See said that with this second fatal blast and fire accident, there is no more excuse for the state government to allow resumption of the mining activity in the said Silantik coal mine.
The mine operators have to stop their work pending a full and thorough independent investigation and that all necessary health and safety standards are put in place to ensure that there will be no more recurrence of such accidents.
See (right), who is the Batu Lintang assemblyperson, said that the commercial and industrial benefits including entrepreneurial revenue and gains arising from the exploitation and mining of natural resources, must always be balanced with environmental and social concerns including the health and safety of the workers, whether they are locals or foreigners.
The national Five-Fuel Policy (oil, gas, hydro power, coal and renewable energy) needs to be critically relooked at, especially in Sarawak, he said.
“There is an obvious present risk that Sarawak is sacrificing its future to satisfy such national needs.
“The irreparable depletion of oil and gas and the losses and damages to land caused by such hydro power dams and coal mining are certainly detrimental to the state’s future,” he said.
He suggested that the government should look into the exploitation of our coal mining policies, particularly to safeguard the little coal resource and reserve that are left, estimated at 1,724 million tonnes, of which only 16% were measured, 20% are indicated and two-thirds of them were only inferred.
“We therefore urge the state government to make use of this opportunity to look into the coal mining industry particularly and the energy industry as a whole.
“Of utmost importance now is the health and safety of the mining industry.” he said.