KOTA KINABALU, July 27 — The controversial carbon trading deal in Sabah is still on the cards despite previous interference from an individual to declare the agreement unenforceable, said deputy chief minister Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan.

Defending the deal, he said that there was no official objection from the state Attorney General’s (AG) office and that the deal was now delayed thanks to the “games” that were being played.

He said that a genuine statement or objection from the AG would have been officially conveyed to him but since the statement was given to the media without going through the proper channels, it was not an official government stance.

“The statement should have been forwarded to the minister and Cabinet ... somebody is playing around,” he said, referring to a statement allegedly from the state AG which declared the deal legally unenforceable due to the parameters in the deal.

“If it was from the AG, they should have given it to me but it went directly to the press so, that means it’s not from the government,” he said, adding that the AG also sits on the steering and management committee for the project with him.

Kitingan declined to name the person involved in trying to derail the project.

He said that the NCA was now delayed by a year and will take 12 to 18 months to see results.

“So we have wasted a lot of time. We need a year to 18 months to get results and we will require human capital, aircraft, satellites, and drones. Other people are getting money from their conservation.

“Right now we are only getting RM110mil from our forest reserves. Compare that to conservation — it will be billions. What we are waiting for?” he asked.

The carbon trading deal, named as the Nature Conservation Agreement (NCA) was signed with a little-known Singapore-based company called Hoch Standard Pte Ltd on Oct 28, 2021, to manage some two million hectares of the state’s forests for 100-year term.

Conservation publication Mongaboy broke the story of the deal which immediately raised concern among the conservation crowd and the opposition.

The state AG Datuk Nor Asiah Mohd Yusof was reported saying in a media statement that the NCA was not enforceable in its present form and that due diligence had yet to be carried out.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor later told the state assembly that the state government would carry out all due diligence required and form an oversight committee to ensure any carbon trading would be carried out properly.