SAPP: Stop forcing dam project onto the people

By Queville To, Free Malaysia Today

KOTA KINABALU: A proposed dam in Kota Belud, the rice bowl of Sabah, costing just under half a billion ringgit is sparking fears in the district that the government will bulldoze its way over objections. Residents had been hanging on to promises made by several government representatives that their views would be considered in any decision on the project, but their hope may be dashed.

Work on the proposed RM450-million dam at Kampung Tambatuon in Kota Belud appears set to take off, according to Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Kadamaian chairperson, Agnes Moi Fun Liewpin.

She was referring to the announcement by Federal Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Nor Omar, last week, that there would be “no stopping the Kota Belud Dam project”.

Nor had said this in response to the conflicting statements by government representatives on the dam, which has now become another controversial project after the proposed Kaiduan dam project in Papar and the newly built Milau dam in Kudat, which has no water source.

Nor’s disclosure comes as a shock to the people of Kota Belud who had been promised that their views would be sought and considered, she said.

“How can a federal minister come and say there is no stopping the dam project? Does this mean that the government has already decided to proceed with the project even before the people are consulted?

“Kadamaian assemblyman Herbert Timbon Lagadan have been telling the local people that they will be consulted first. Has he been lying to the people?” she asked.

More confusion

Moi also noted that Herbert had tried to appease the villagers by promising to take them on a tour of the Bakun Dam in Sarawak to get a better picture of the government’s plan.

However, the affected villagers had rejected his invitation and instead joined a similar visit organised by an NGO called “Jaringan Pertubuhan Keselamatan Orang Asli” last month.

Again on Aug 12, Kota Belud MP Rahman Dahlan, aware of the sensitivity of the project, said the site of the proposed dam was still under study.

“The conflicting statements on the proposed dam at Kampung Tambatuon from Noh, Herbert and now Rahman have caused more confusion,” Moi said.

She called on the elected representatives to tell the truth and to stop confusing the people.

“We hope that Rahman will make sure that the government will listen to the objections of the people and respect their feelings.”

Awareness campaign

Moi pointed out that the government had previously ordered surveyors and technicians to do site inspection in and around Kampung Tambatuon last year without consulting the people.