Warisan broke promise to cancel Kaiduan dam, says NGO

Villagers taking part in a protest against the Kaiduan dam, later renamed Papar dam, project.

KOTA KINABALU: A non-governmental organisation (NGO) today expressed its frustration with Warisan for breaking its promise to cancel the controversial Kaiduan dam in Papar which threatens to displace thousands of villagers from their ancestral land.

The Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam (Takad) said that instead of moving to cancel the mega project, the state government “simply changed” the name of Kaiduan dam to Papar dam, and increased the cost from RM2 billion to RM3 billion.

Stressing that the land and identity of the 3,000 indigenous people would be destroyed if the project is continued, Takad spokesman Diana Sipail said the dam will also spell the end of the Crocker Range, which was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by Unesco in 2014.

“We would like to remind the public about our frustration with the Warisan government, Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Upko, who betrayed our votes and support in the 2018 general election.

“We were 100% behind the leadership of Shafie Apdal and PH, who promised to cancel the Kaiduan dam. Now we realise that political pledges are just empty promises, and our votes are only important during elections.

“In conjunction with this special day, we at Takad would like to reiterate our commitment to our struggle against this mega dam despite being betrayed by Shafie’s government,” she said in a statement in conjunction with International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2020.

Sipail said there had been no transparency in the project and until today, no consultations had been held with the villagers or in-depth studies carried out on the dam and its impact on the local communities.

She reiterated Takad’s demand for the setting up of an independent commission comprising environmental and water experts to study the impact of the dam on the indigenous communities and the surrounding environment.

She also hoped the proposed commission would look into sustainable alternatives to dams.