KOTA KINABALU: Moyog assemblyman Jenifer Lasimbang has urged villagers in Penampang to calm down and not jump to conclusions on the proposed Papar dam project.
Acknowledging that the villagers in Penampang, particularly those in the Kaiduan area where the dam was earlier proposed, still had reservations about the new project, she advised them to wait for further announcements.
“Wait for all the details first, that’s all. For me, it is very clear – we are not sure (on the exact location). Even the chief minister did not disclose any details except that the location has changed to Papar.
“On a personal level, I’ve been with the community against the Kaiduan dam (before) but there are no details yet.
“So, before anything else, we should wait for the announcement and get details on the location such as how big it is. Only then can we react,” Lasimbang, who is also a state assistant minister, told FMT today.
The Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam (Takad) last week voiced concerns that the new Papar dam would also affect the villagers in Penampang as it would be built on the same river regardless of the project site.
Takad spokesman Diana Sipail said the government had failed to address the group’s concerns, such as the submergence of native customary rights land, the loss of burial grounds and the relocation of people to places alien to them.
Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said the state government decided to scrap the Kaiduan dam project due to objections from the public, including from Parti Warisan Sabah leaders.
He said the government had instead proposed for the new site to be in Papar, a district on the southwest of Sabah, adding that the dam was important for meeting the state’s rising demand for clean water.
“I know (Penampang MP) Darell Leiking, Jenifer and (former Moyog assemblyman) Terence Siambun also raised the issue (before on the Kaiduan dam).
“That’s why we have decided it’s not going to be in that area,” he told reporters in Penampang near here today.
Shafie said the state capital would need an ample water supply in the next five to 10 years.
“So I think it is quite crucial for us to resolve it now. If we don’t, then it’s not going to be good for everyone, not only in Penampang and Papar but other districts around Kota Kinabalu,” he said.
He added that the government would be engaging with the relevant stakeholders, especially villagers in Papar, to speak about the project.
Leiking said he was told that there was currently no Cabinet approval for the project but gave his assurance that the government would speak to the affected villagers in Papar.
“As far as I know, it should not affect the constituency of Penampang. So now we need to ask the Papar district council, state and federal reps to find out whether their constituents are affected.
“If it affects Penampang, of course I need to raise it,” he said, adding that Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony had assured him the project would not touch Penampang.
Leiking, who is international trade and industry minister, said the government would not be rash when it came to the project, and that the alternative site was proposed to address the issue of water shortage following the scrapping of the Kaiduan dam.
“I’m sure Peter Anthony will explain and engage with the stakeholders. You should never rush into things until you settle with the stakeholders.
“I’ve been (through the ministry) trying to bring a lot of investors to Sabah, but the same complaint keeps coming back to me: water and electricity, big problems in Sabah.
“Investors are saying ‘we’d like to invest but can you solve those two problems?’,” he said.
Anthony previously announced that there would be no Kaiduan dam but that the government would be building a RM2 billion dam in Kampung Bisuang in Papar.
Leiking, who is also Warisan deputy president, said PBS secretary-general Johnny Mositun had gotten it wrong when he accused the party of breaking its promise to scrap the Kaiduan dam project if it came to power.
“The project was scrapped… I think Mositun got it wrong. His previous Umno-led Barisan Nasional government was the one pushing for it when PBS was with Umno.
“And led by his president Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the former YB (elected rep) who was defeated by his own brother Jeffrey (in the last election)… he was pushing for the Kaiduan dam.
“So for Mositun, he should ask Pairin,” he added.