Hold town hall session on Papar dam, Sabah government urged

A protest against the Papar dam held in August last year.

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government, especially the infrastructure development ministry, has been urged to adopt a more transparent approach by providing a clear and detailed explanation of the Papar Dam.

In a statement today, Pritchard Sebastian Gumbaris, who is the political secretary to Penampang MP and International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking, said such information is important to resolve the confusion among the locals in Penampang.

He said this would also put an end to attempts by certain quarters to seize this opportunity to paint a bad picture of the Sabah government.

He said Leiking had already stated that “not an inch of Penampang land” could be utilised for the Papar Dam.

Gumbaris said greater transparency on the dam is required because it would involve a huge sum of funding, presumably from federal coffers, and the project would need an in-depth understanding of the interests of the local community without being bulldozed through.

He said Leiking had been bombarded with phone calls and text messages about the exact location of the dam,.

Members of the public were also anxious to know whether the proposal will affect any part of Penampang and whether there had been prior discussion between the infrastructure development ministry, Penampang district council and the Penampang MP’s office on the matter.

Gumbaris said Leiking was not privy to any meeting or discussion held either by the state Cabinet or the infrastructure development ministry on Papar Dam, which is supposed to be built in Papar.

Leiking also has no knowledge of its exact location, he added.

Gumbaris agreed that water supply is a problem in Sabah but Penampang should not be asked to make sacrifices while other districts did nothing.

“This is more so when the proposal itself is shrouded in secrecy.

“It is important that the Sabah government does not emulate the governance of BN and Sabah Umno where all decisions of the state government at that time were made unilaterally and shrouded in secrecy without involving the stakeholders.

“The state government should act with professionalism and finesse on this matter.

“I hope that the state government will be more inclusive to ensure all stakeholders are given the opportunity to raise their concerns through open discourse, such as a town hall session.

“Such a platform will also provide the opportunity for the state government to provide a more detailed explanation on this issue.”

Gumbaris said, in the end, it was really up to the people of Papar to decide whether they wanted the dam.