Sarawak PKR wants Sungai Asap natives compensated

By Joseph Tawie, Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR wants Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to pay the 1,700 families in Sungai Asap eesettlement scheme housing compensation due to them since 12 years ago.

They want Najib to compensate the families with interest and bonus.

Said state PKR chairman Baru Bian: “If Najib is really serious about genuine compensation, his Barisan Nasional government  should pay the people of Sungai  Asap the housing compensation due to them from 12 years ago (that is, the bulk of the RM46.28 million outstanding), with interest and bonus at the Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) dividend rate.

“If not, we, of the PKR, will take this statement of Najib about writing off the ‘RM41 million loan’ to be ‘just the same-old tin-kosong’ BN public relations exercise.”

Bian was commenting on Najib’s proposal to write off the families’ RM41 million housing loan when he visited Bakun Dam in Belaga last week.

He said that a majority of the people had their old houses valued (and probably under-valued) at RM35,000 or above.

At RM35,000, and at the ASB dividend rate plus bonus of 10% per year, total dividends, withdrawn annually, would have amounted to RM42,000.

“If the dividends had been re-invested, the compounded dividend alone would now be worth RM75,000, which is much more than the ‘loan’ that the government now claims to be writing off.

“In other words, if the BN government does not pay the people the housing compensation due to them with the interest – at the dividend plus bonus rate of the ASB – all Najib’s sweet talk of writing off the loan is merely playing tricks with numbers,” Bian said.

No official statement

Bian said that doubts have been raised in the absence of an official written statement that says that the BN government is going to pay the people the outstanding compensation due to them.

“Does it mean that the government is, on the one hand, cancelling ‘the outstanding loans’ and, on the other, pocketing the unpaid compensation?

“Are Najib and Chief Minister Taib Mahmud playing ‘silap mata’ to deny the people of Asap their rightful compensation?” Bian asked.

PKR congratulated the people of Sungai Asap for their tenacity in refusing to pay the so-called housing loan ever since they moved into the resettlement scheme.

“Indeed, PKR stands by the people of Sungai Asap who rightly refused to pay for low-quality and defective housing in the resettlement since the housing should have been provided free to them for giving way (their land)  for the Bakun Dam project,” Bian said.

The so-called housing “loan” included a charge of RM900 per acre for the three acres of sub-standard land, more than the RM600 a hectare the state government charged to the companies getting hundreds of thousands of hectares of good land!

He said that it was quite obvious to all that the BN has now been forced to concede and cancel the so-called “loans” after numerous attempts to force the people of Sungai Asap to pay, including preventing those whose homes had burnt down from occupying the replacement houses.

“This is clearly because of the rise of the Pakatan Rakyat. The federal and state BN are afraid of Pakatan’s growing influence in Sungai Asap and have had to cancel the loan or risk losing votes,” he said.

Discrimination against native bumiputeras

Bian claimed that if it had not been for the opposition’s growing strength, the BN and Taib would still be abusing the people of Sungai Asap who were forced to give up their ancestral lands for the Bakun Dam over a decade ago.