Bingkor Assemblyman, Jeffrey Kitingan, says that the reasons for the grievances of the people affected by the proposed dams in Sabah are obvious. Read more below about why he is urging authorities to provide a full explanation on the rationale for the projects so that the affected people may be able to make their case to the government.
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KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government owes frightened residents of Kaiduan and Tambatuon a full and frank disclosure of proposed dam construction projects on their doorstep, STAR Sabah chairman, Jeffrey Kitingan said yesterday.
He said that so far the people in the vicinity of the proposed dams do not have the full details behind the proposed dams that are being rammed through by the state government.
A full explanation on the rationale for the projects must be given by the authorities so that all those who will be impacted can make their case to the state government in return, said Kitingany who represents Bingkor in the state legislature.
“They must also be given the opportunity to be heard before evaluating and proceeding with the dams,” he stressed when asked to comment on the proposed dams in Kaiduan in Penampang and Tambatuon in Kota Belud.
“This is equally applicable to other projects that affect the lives and livelihood of the people,” he said.
Commenting on the on-going spat over the Kaiduan dam issue between his brother-cum-deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kintingan and Moyog assemblyman Terence Siambun, Kitingan said “people do not complain for no reason”.
“There are obvious reasons for the grievances of the people affected by the proposed Kaiduan dam in Penampang which may affect about 10 villages in the district and thousands of people living there.
“It may be traumatic and nerve-wrecking as it involves displacement and uprooting from their villages which the villagers have known all their lives since the days of their ancestors,” he said.
Kitingan also believes there may be a shortfall in the amount of necessary information getting down to the people on the ground.
“It would be better to have proper dialogues between the government and the people so that there is transparency and feedback from the people.
“The dialogues will ensure the right information is available and that (either) a viable win-win project can be implemented or a bad unsuitable project is avoided,” he said.
‘Govt can no longer impose decisions’
Kitingan cautioned against “the old days and old ways” of a know-all government of the day claiming to do what is good for the people and bulldozing their way.
“The government can no longer hide information from the rakyat. The government and the ministers, civil servants and consultants of any project need to learn that that they can no longer impose their decisions and will on the people anymore,” he said.
He said the voting out of the Barisan Nasional (BN) representatives by the voters of Moyog, Penampang and Kadamaian was a lesson which the Sabah government should pay heed to as it was obvious that they were punished for not listening to the people.
Kitingan also said that the state government must be transparent about all such projects which, due to past controversies, have tainted all government projects, large and small.
“For all we know, there may be a hidden agenda somewhere by some people. There could also be other possible solutions.
“From feedback gathered, there could be a better alternative site and alternative river to the Tambatuon dam.
“For the Kaiduan dam, the solution may lie in expanding and improving the efficiency of the existing dams and building a smaller alternative dam to the proposed Kaiduan dam.
“A bigger dam could also be built further away without displacing so many people and villages and piping the water a longer distance to Kota Kinabalu and the surrounding areas,” he said.
The Barisan Nasional government, he said, should also not have any problem regarding costs on alternative projects that would not have such a detrimental impact on the people.
“If the federal government can fund the new Pahang-Selangor water pipeline through a specially built 43km transfer tunnel and through the Titiwangsa Main Range from Pahang to Selangor/Klang Valley costing RM3.94 billion and (for) a total project cost of more than RM9 billion, surely it can fund the alternative dam for Kota Kinabalu, if necessary through a new water tunnel through the Crocker Range.
“After all, the federal government and Petronas will be receiving RM26.6 billion from Sabah’s oil and gas in 2014 and the Umno/BN federal government owes its current stay in power due to the MPs from Sabah.
“If the current 22 BN MPs from Sabah were to switch camps, there could be a change of the federal government or another round of fresh elections,” he pointed out.
To, Quevelle. “Jeffrey calls for transparency on dam projects.” Free Malaysia Today. 25 Nov 2013. <http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/11/25/jeffrey-calls-for-transparency-on-dam-projects/>.