Warisan-led govt just a continuation of BN rule, says anti-dam group

Members of the Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam, led by Diana Sipail (third from right), handing over a memorandum to Chief Minister Shafie Apdal at the Sabah state assembly in April.

KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah grassroots movement has given red marks to the Warisan-led state government, describing it as a continuation of the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) rule and claiming it has not lived up to the people’s expectations.

The Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam (Takad) said it could not find any notable achievements by the government one year after Warisan took over from BN.

Takad spokesman Diana Sipail added that the government had embarked on new projects without consultation.

“Projects announced have not gone through the consultation process at the community level which is demanded under the Free Prior and Informed Consent principle.

“What’s more worrying is the new government is using its present popularity to go against what Sabahans want,” she told FMT.

Takad was set up to protest the Kaiduan dam project, which was shelved in 2015 but revived by the Warisan government under a different name and location along Sungai Papar.

Critics say the dam would encroach into native land and submerge villagers’ homes, affecting over 3,000 people and undermining the rich biodiversity along the Papar river which is within the Crocker Range.

Last month, Takad handed over a memorandum to Chief Minister Shafie Apdal, urging him to scrap the mega dam project.

Sipail said the group was also cautious about other mega projects given the go-ahead in Sabah.

She said other mega projects include the construction of 10 new luxury hotels in Kota Kinabalu by 2021, a mega resort in the waters off Lok Kawi, and limestone mining at Pulau Balambangan off Sabah’s northern Kudat district.

She also questioned the government’s plan for a floating city project in Semporna, as well as the Tanjung Aru Eco-Development despite Warisan’s promise to scrap these projects before the general election last year.

“The most disappointing is the continuation of the Kaiduan dam, of which only the name has been changed (to Papar dam) as it would still be built along the same river,” she said.

Sipail said the environmental impact assessment report for the project must be scrutinised, and stakeholders should be involved in the decision-making process.

“What is the use of returning Sabah’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 if the indigenous people’s way of life and their native customary lands, which are our identity, are no more?” she said.