Anti-dam movement launched in Sabah

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

PENAMPANG: PKR assemblyman Terrence Siambun yesterday launched Projek Bantah (Protest Project) to block the construction of a dam in Kaiduan that is slowly edging past the proposal stage.

Speaking to reporters at a news conference here, the state assembly representative for Moyog said that the protest movement is in response to a recent call by Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan, urging Penampang residents to register their grievances if they are unhappy with the proposal.

“Pairin has said that if there is any dissatisfaction with the construction of the dam, the people of Penampang should register their grievances or complaints so we have taken up his call to register the people’s grievances,” he told reporters at his office in Donggongon.

He added that he would also be organising a signature campaign against the dam and that the signatures collected would be submitted to Pairin in the next state legislative assembly sitting.

About nine kampongs in the vicinity of the dam will be submerged if the government goes ahead with the plan displacing some 2,000 residents.

Villagers have also pointed out that there are scores of burial grounds scattered around which are considered sacred in the target area and the proposed project site is also the last remaining forested area in Penampang.

Activists and environmentalists have also noted that the dam site is situated in a scenic area and has great potential to be developed into an eco-tourism destination.

The protest movement headed by Penampang PKR deputy chairman Kenny Chua Teck Ho is expecting the support and assistance of various local and international NGOs to highlight the potential devastating impact of the project.

Terrence is hoping the participation of local and international NGOs will ensure transparency and objectivity in the protest movement.

Terrence further said it cannot be accepted that the dam is the only resort to ensure steady water supply to the west coast of the state when other alternative sources such as the Padas River remain untapped.

Another dam in Penampang?

He pointed out that Singapore and some Middle East countries had even resorted to processing seawater into fresh water for far less than the more than RM3 billion it will cost to construct the Kaiduan Dam.

“With RM3 billion, we can do a lot of development and at the same time address water woes in the west coast, so why Penampang?” he asked.

He also questioned the reasons behind another dam in Penampang when the district already has the Babagon Dam, the biggest such facility built in Sabah.

“Why would they want to build another dam that is three times bigger than the Babagon Dam in Penampang again?”

The popular protests against the new dam is an echo of similar widespread opposition to the Babagon Dam.

Terrence fears the government will employ a similar strategy with the new dam and bulldoze it through despite objections and pointed out that though the dam is only at the proposal level, it has already been awarded to a contractor.

Projek Bantah is supported by the Kaiduan Taskforce that was formed in 2009.

The protest campaign will be conducted from house to house and roadshows are also being organised to explain the protest to a wider audience.

Free Malaysia Today


Post a Comment

Important - The views expressed and the links provided on our comment pages are the personal views of individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Sabah Report.