Why does the SBH Kibing Silica Extraction Site project in Kudat need to prioritise a comprehensive social impact assessment?

By Dr. Gaim James Lunkapis, Exco member of the Malaysian Social Impact Assessment (SABAH 2021-2025)


KOTA KINABALU: Skimming through postings in the media regarding public concerns over the course of project implementation of the SBH Kibing Silica Extraction, I can’t help but air my personal and professional opinion with the hope that immediate action should be undertaken.

While acknowledging the potential positive impacts of the project on employment and the socio-economic development of Sabah, it is great and provides optimistic values. It is crucial to address social impact concerns and implement measures to mitigate any negative effects on the local community and environment, as highlighted in the media.

In order to fully address these concerns, I propose that the following should be addressed immediately:

  1. Provide Tangible Plans and Initiatives: The absence of concrete plans and initiatives to address social impact concerns is a significant issue. The project should outline specific actions, timelines, and responsible parties to address the identified concerns. This should be made public.
  2. Provide Transparency and Public Disclosure: Transparency is essential to gaining public trust and allowing stakeholders to understand the potential impacts of the project. The SIA findings should be made easily accessible to the public.
  3. Provide Community Engagement: Meaningful and inclusive community engagement is crucial to understanding the local context and concerns. The project should establish mechanisms for ongoing dialogue with the affected communities to incorporate their perspectives into decision-making processes.
  4. Provide Impact Mitigation Measures: The SIA should clearly outline mitigation measures to address social impacts. This may include strategies to minimise displacement, protect cultural heritage (fishing grounds and local socio-economic concerns), and ensure equitable distribution of benefits. Concrete plans for managing potential conflicts and grievances should also be included.
  5. Provide Alternative Solutions: The SIA should explore alternative solutions that may have fewer adverse social impacts. This could involve considering different extraction methods, site locations, or technologies to minimise potential harm to the local community and environment.
  6. Provide Capacity Building and Local Employment: The project should include plans for capacity building and skill development for the local workforce. Prioritising local employment, as has been highlighted in your findings, should be highlighted further and can contribute to the long-term sustainability of the project’s positive social impacts.
  7. Provide a Monitoring Plan and Evaluation: A robust monitoring and evaluation framework should be established to assess the effectiveness of mitigation measures over time. This ensures that any negative social impacts are identified promptly, allowing for timely adjustments to the project’s implementation.
  8. Provide firm compliance and commitments to regulations. The SIA should confirm compliance with local and national regulations related to social and environmental impacts. Any gaps in compliance should be addressed, and the project should strive to exceed minimum requirements where possible.

As an EXCO member of the Malaysian Social Impact Assessment (SABAH 2021-2025), I urge the SBH Kibing Silica Extraction Site project to prioritise a comprehensive social impact assessment that addresses concerns, provides tangible solutions, and ensures transparency and community involvement. If you do these, the project will further contribute to its long-term success while safeguarding the well-being of the local community and the environment.

Related Articles


Latest Articles