Sunday, July 18

Economist warns of serious economic repercussions

(This article was first published in the Free Malaysia Today and has been updated and produced here for the readers of The Broken Shield).

KUCHING: An economist with University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) has warned of serious economic repercussions in the State if there are insufficient funds to create and implement economic activities alongside projects planned in the 10th Malaysia Plan.

“Where there are mega projects such as a heavy industry, hydro projects, construction of highways and SCORE projects being implemented in Sarawak in the 10MP, there should be sufficient funds to finance, create and implement economic projects alongside these projects.

“This is to avoid the failures and the experiences in Batang Ai and in Bakun,”
said Professor Dr. Dimbab Ngidang at a paper presented at a recent seminar organised by Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).

Sarawak’s Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud opened the one-day seminar. Five papers were presented.

“We must learn from the past experiences in Batang Ai and Asap in Bakun. The SALCRA farm scheme in Batang Ai does not generate enough income for setters there nor does the resettlement scheme for settlers in Asap, let alone generating high income earning.

“I am not saying that they are not without income; they lack expanded economic opportunities to earn extra income. When resettlement scheme at Tunu (Kapit) is implemented there is also a strong possibility that settlers there will not likely to earn sufficient income like their counterparts in Batang Ai and Asap.

“This is why sufficient federal funding should be allocated to help the state government creates diversified high income generating economic activities for communities directly affected by mega projects,” he said.

Dimbab said: “Now, the same rationale of people-oriented approach in NEP should also be invoked for creating economic activities in order to expand economic opportunities for the affected communities not only in SCORE, but also alongside all government-funded development projects elsewhere.

“When the nation-state invokes a positive discrimination approach, it is not impossible for rural people to capture a fair distribution of socio-economic benefits and/or spin-off effects of the construction of HEP dams, establishment of heavy industry, infrastructures (roads) and modern facilities cutting across the hinterlands of Sarawak.

“That tall order of social responsibility has been discharged in NEP and should be continued for the sake of inclusiveness in the high income policy in NEM so that people in the peripheries are brought into the fold of mainstream economic development.

“Therefore, mixing the correct ingredients in a balancing act between striving for economic growth and inclusiveness of rural peripheries in NEM to create high economy is certainly for the interest of the nation-state so that the lower income groups especially in rural areas are not being left out in the 10MP and beyond,”
he said.

Dimbab related a story how 3,600 people were displaced in 1982 as a result of the construction of the hydroelectric power (HEP) dam at Batang Ai, Sri Aman Division.

About 1,595 families were resettled in the land scheme in 1982, of which each family was allocated 4.5 hectares of farmland: 2 hectares of rubber, 1.2 hectares of cocoa and 0.4 hectares for a garden plot, whereas the remaining 0.8 hectare for rice cultivation is yet to be given.

The cocoa farm scheme was abandoned after cocoa price plunged in the 1980s and has been replanted with oil palm. Although the resettlement scheme provided facilities and infrastructure, the farm scheme has not been able to provide a sustainable income for the settlers, and the lack land for rice cultivation seems to add to the problem of food insecurity.

The aquaculture project in Batang Ai has long been discontinued for lack of funding and found to be not economically viable to run due to high cost of feed and limited market outlets.

He said that in the 1990s, 15 longhouses, comprising Kayan, Kenyah, Kajang, Ukit and Penan people with a total affected population of 9,4289 were resettled at Asap, Belaga district in Kapit Division. Three acres of land were allocated per household at Asap resettlement scheme.

He said: “In short, there are very little economic activities in these government-created resettlement schemes today. The same argument of insufficient income also befalls all these schemes; they are not with income, but not adequate enough for supporting sustainable livelihood.

“Perhaps, a thorough assessment of these projects is also necessary. Given the sacrifices they have rendered to the nation-state over the years, surely the existing critical mass in the above-mentioned schemes deserve special attention in terms of federal allocation for implementing affirmative action programs in the 10MP.

“Federal funding is crucial to help create economic activities in these resettlement schemes whether in the form of cottage industry, aquaculture, commercial orchards and vegetable production or food processing, etc., with supporting technical advisory services by relevant agencies and a guaranteed market for their products,” he said.


Anonymous said...

The big question in the equation is whether the local economic spin-off was mandated part of the whole project package. Oftentimes policy makers look at the global picture and objectives. In the case of Batang Ai the target was electricity coming out cheap being powered by water; the long term cost decreases as initial capital has been amortized over a short period of time. With low maintenance cost, every output above the low maintenance cost, after a certain period of time, will be purely contributing to overall profit.
The cost of major developpment in term of diplacement of people, albeit their readjusting to new type of lifes, like that described by Professor Dimbab is almost always unavoidable unless there is a serious strategy from the planning stage right on which is to treat it on as a separate micro economic parity, and which to be given a separate management module although to be in tandem with the main project itself. By this means it can work out. And if it should fail there is a body (separate management module) to be pick for blame i.e. unless like cocoa prices that plunged in the late 1990s or by natural disaster, or in those sort of circumstances, no blame can be apportioned, really.
The failure of Assap Resettlement is exactly the result of it was regarded as an appendix to the whole project. Had there been an intention that it was a part of the whole programme, surely there were so much timbers extracted in Bakun before the area was developed, so the issue of money to funding it was not enough cannot be an issue at all. As the redevelopment or displacement or resettlement of people were not a serious part of the whole programme, the monies deriveable from those timbers were never part of the whole equation. That went to someones' pockets. This should not have happened, but it did. And that such things were allowed to happen when Tun M was Prima Minister with the present CM was also then already a CM gives rise to a lot of speculations and unanswered questions. So much timbers could translate into billions of Malaysia Ringgit. Where have they all gone to? Some pockets are very well lined and deep. I think that they will answer it to those displaced people of Bakun, I don't doubt this.
Asking for more money from the Federal Government for projects in Sarawak is of course the right thing to do. Our money in Petronas, out of that we have got pittances so far and over the years. More should be paid to Sarawak for our development. Major development projects have been in Semanunjung Malaysia, on the main, with little or none implemented in Sarawak. Our road networks are still in bad shape. The roads linking the major towns of the interior are inadequate and of low standard if compared to the fine good quality road networks in Semanunjung Malaysia. However given that a huge chunk of our national budget is financed by monies from Petronas, the subsidies are being reviewed, our budget deficit is growing, and etc can the Federal Govoeornment lend us its good ears now?, I wonder. And I also wonder as to why is it not the Chief Minister that should ask for more money, especially for his favorite topic SCORE? is there something behind, even this?

Lee Hui said...

Churches opening doors for EC to sign up voters
By Neville Spykerman
July 18, 2010

The Election Commission (EC) held their voter registration drive at the Subang-Sungai Way Methodist Church today — Picture by Jack Ooi
PETALING JAYA, July 18 — As a sign of growing political awareness, churches are now inviting the Election Commission (EC) to hold voter registration drives within their premises.

Representatives from the EC today set up booths outside the Subang-Sungai Way Methodist Church (SSMC) to register voters after Sunday service.

Pastor Phua Seng Tiong described today’s event as a church initiative to help society.

“There has been far too many complaints about things not right but some say they cannot make a difference,” said the church spokesman.

He pointed out the least that any right thinking citizens can do is to vote and that will make a difference.

Two representatives from the EC had their hands full from Christians, non-Christians and even Muslims from the neighbourhood.

This afternoon’s event was launched by Subang MP R.Sivarasa and Bukit Lanjan assemblyman Elizabeth Wong, who are both from PKR.

Sivarasa had also arranged for tents to be put up at the church compound to facilitate the voter registration.

But Phua denied the church was endorsing either Pakatan Rakyat(PR) or Barisan Nasional (BN).

“There are no political banners here and no political inclination in the event,” he said.

This sentiment was echoed by Jasmine Ng who had arranged for the EC to come to the church.

“It is strictly non-partisan,” said the co-founder of the non-racial. Growing Emerging Leaders (GEL) Centre.

She said it did not matter who those who registered voted for but they be allowed to make their choice.

“Without a voice you cannot make your choices known in a democratic system,” said Ng.

Ng explained that the GEL had launched a Voice Your Choice. campaign to get two million Malaysians to register as voters. by year end.

So far the on-going campaign has registered 30,000 new voters.

Ng also commended the EC for their willingness to work with GEL.

While most of their registration campaigns have been carried out at malls the EC has also shown their willingness to set up their booths at Churches.

Last week, a similar programme was held at the KL Baptist Church in Jalan Alor where 75 people registered in just two hours.

Today, there were 71 new voter registrations and 80 change of addresses between 12pm and 6pm.

Salak said...

["...Therefore, mixing the correct ingredients in a balancing act between striving for economic growth and inclusiveness of rural peripheries in NEM to create high economy is certainly for the interest of the nation-state so that the lower income groups especially in rural areas are not being left out in the 10MP and beyond..." ]

So much verbosity it's gotten to be gobbledegook now.

If the rural folks are seen as left out, the distributive fundamental of economics is stuck at the first post!

For heaven's sake don't even mention anything about high income!

apai irau said...


taib is cute said...

May be of interest, still a work in progress as there is a lot to read and post on

Uchu aki Biat said...

apai irau,

SELCRA was set up in 1976 (34 years now).

Jabu said RM330 millions have been paid to the 20,000 participants.

My calculation, during the 34 years, each participant only gets the dividends of RM40.43 a month. Is that Jabu proud of and asks skeptics to wake up.

My grandma is earning RM30 - RM50 a day at Pasar Tamu by selling `meding` at RM6.00 a kilo.

So, it is better for the landowners to grow `meding` on their land instead of giving them to plantation companies to be developed.forapa

Mata Kuching said...

In a highly corrupted and oppressive regime where the political agenda is to keep the rural people poor and beholden to the government NOTHING will work and benefit the rural population where funding purportedly for rural development would have been siphoned and squandered by the power that be. That is the root cause of the problem and not due to poor planning or lack of funding. The CM and PM department alone have been allocated almost RM2 billion and RM9 billion respectively. Do we need to say more? How did they spend these allocations and why must they be given such outrageous allocations?