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The blame game continues
Published on: Thursday, July 11, 2019
By: Sherell Jeffrey

PENAMPANG: A blame game is continuing over what is actually causing the Mongkusilad River which merges with the Moyog River to turn murky here. Residents are claiming that the river is still being dirtied by the operations of a businessman despite obtaining a consent order against him through the High Court on June 27. 

The businessman, however, contends he is respecting the court decision and should not be blamed. In fact, he said he is doing all he can to preserve the forest and the river and has big dreams of making Moyog a tourism spot that would benefit the villagers. Yulis Gutuk, who is Mongkusilad River Tagal Chairman claimed the river started to turn murky in 2011, causing many fish species to die. 

“The river used to be very clean, so clean that we could even drink from it. We even had tourists visiting the river but all that stopped when the businessman started earthworks on his land causing the river to be polluted,” he claimed, Tuesday. 

There are over 200 residents in the area, most of them farmers. Kampung Moyog Village Head, Randi Paya, also put the blame on the businessman, claiming that earthworks are still continuing despite the consent order. 

“We can see Hitachi machineries moving around the land,” said Randi who hoped the issue will get the attention of the government and put a stop to it.  

They also claimed to have seen a lorry pushing earth by the hillside of the land. 

The businessman, Ooi Say Tuan, claimed certain people have been harassing him ever since he bought the land at a public auction in 2005.  He said the harassment started when he lodged a police report against illegal logging activities being carried out on his land, leading to the arrest of several people. 

On claims of earthwork still being done on his land despite the court order, he said, it was merely drainage work to replace clogged pipes. 

“If we don’t do this the clogged pipes will burst and the water will overflow and destroy the slopes,” he said. 

He also denied claims of throwing earth by the slopes saying “We used to throw a lot of boulder stones to make sure the slope is stabilised. I think a few thousand trips of boulder stones in the early days, but not earth.”

He said all earthworks except for the drainage mitigation has been stopped since the consent order, adding that they will only continue earthworks  until approval is obtained from all relevant departments. 

“We know that we have to fulfil all the terms and conditions stated in the consent order, and if they still don’t give us the approval that means something is wrong somewhere and it’s not our fault,” he said. 

In a lengthy explanation, with documents and photographs to stress his point, Ooi maintained that he is a law abiding citizen and perpetually under a microscope with every blame being pinned on him.

“We take every precaution to minimise pollution but no precaution is 100 per cent guaranteed. I know that people will complain about anything I do from A to Z. When under a microscope, people will always point the finger at us, especially those that I chased from my land for illegal logging,” he said. 

He also pointed out several activities which the authorities should be looking into like illegal logging in the catchment reserve where terracing is being done on steep slopes, the growing number of houses being built along the rivers, etc.

“Why would I want to destroy the environment if my dream is to have a water theme park in Kibunut with pristine clear river. I also want to see a mountain full of flowers and greenery. I have started planting creepers on 200 acres of my land. 

“All this will be a heritage for us, I am not young anymore, I am old but I hope I can complete the dream and see this place turn into a tourism and cultural hub for Penampang ,” he said. 



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