Published on: Sunday, March 16, 2014
Papar: Villagers in Ulu Papar where the proposed Kaiduan dam will be built have lost their faith in a government response, saying they received no feedback regarding their objections to the dam.
A spokesperson for the villagers, Mary Giun, said they voiced their objection against the project through a letter to the Government five years ago but until now there has been no response.
"We have requested the Government several times to 'turun padang' and give consultation or hold a dialogue with the villagers but to no avail.
"We only received feedback from our Member of Parliament and Assemblyman who supported our objection to the dam project," she said at the launching of the "Rivers Are in Our Hand" campaign at Hutan Lipur Kawang, here, Saturday.
She claimed about 1,400 people from nine villages would be directly affected if the Kaiduan dam project proceeds.
"Most of these villages fall within the proposed water catchment reserve and their villagers' subsistence depends mainly on farming, relying principally on hill rice, hunting and freshwater fishing, as well as gardening of forest products, for their daily needs.
"We hope the Government will hear our voice to stop the project so that the water and environment will not be destroyed and the uniqueness of the place remains," said Giun, who is also the Chairman of the Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam.
To a question, Giun said the villagers did not allow outsiders to enter the area because previously there were outsiders claiming to be from the Environment Department, but upon checking their status, found that the department had never authorised its officials to enter the area.
Due to the incident, the villagers have refused to allow outsiders to enter the area, she added.
On the campaign, Giun said it was held in conjunction with the International Day of Action Against Dams and for Rivers, with the objective of creating awareness among the public to protect rivers from pollution due to development projects.
She hoped that through the campaign their voice could be heard by the Government and more NGOs and organisations will join them to protect the rivers, particularly in Sabah.
About 60 people from other districts like Kota Marudu, Kota Belud, Pitas, Tenom, Ranau, Kudat, Tongod, Keningau and Penampang attended the event.
The campaign was organised by the Sabah Save Rivers Coalition comprising eight NGOs, namely, Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam, Jaringan Orang Asal Semalaysia (JOAS), Partners of Community Organisation (Pacos), School of Acting Justly, Loving Tenderly, Treading Humbly (Salt), Tompinai Ningkotobon Koburuon Kampung (Tonibung, Land Empowerment Animals People (Leap), Borneo Youth Revolution (BYR) and Clear.