Dialogue needed on Kaiduan and Tambatuon dams

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

By Matthias Hermes

KOTA KINABALU: The State government owes the people of Kaiduan and Tambatuon a proper and informed dialogue with full and frank disclosure of the proposed dam construction projects, said STAR Sabah chairman, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.

This is necessary so as to give the people a proper and due opportunity to be heard before evaluating to proceed with the dams, he stressed.

“The Sabah government should listen to the views of the people affected by the proposed building of 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,” Jeffrey (photo) said.

Commenting on the on-going spat over the Kaiduan dam issue between his brother cum deputy chief minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kintingan and Moyog Assemblyman Terence Siambun, Dr Jeffrey said people just 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 villages have known all their lives since the days of their ancestors,” he said.

He also believed there may be a gap in information getting down to the people on the ground.

“So, it would be better to have proper dialogue 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 a viable win-win project can be implemented or a bad unsuitable project is avoided,” he said.

The Bingkor Assemblyman further stressed that the old days and old ways of the government of the day know everything and know what is good for the people is no longer applicable in this modern era of online communication and information available at the fingertips.

“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 stressed.

He pointed out that the voting out of the Barisan Nasional (BN) representatives by the voters of Moyog, Penampang and Kadamaian are warning signs for the Sabah government to take heed of the people’s voices.

He thus reiterated the need for a proper dialogue between the government and the affected villagers, before proceeding with the said projects.

“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.

He was also of the opinion that the cost for construction of a further alternative dam should not be an issue at all.

He said, 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 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.


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