KUCHING: The revelation that the Baram MP and Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Jacob Dungau Sagan and his family members were given business contracts in return for his support for the dreaded Baram dam has infuriated the Kanyan, Kenyah and Penan communities in the Upper Baram River.
“Even the Iban and other communities down river are also equally angry if the allegations are true. He has betrayed us as the voters,” said Patrick Sibat, a potential candidate to challenge Sagan in the coming election.
It was revealed on February 25, 2012 by Sarawak Report that Jacob’s family members were given business contracts and belian concessions worth more than RM63 million allegedly as rewards for his support for the construction of the Baram dam.
“Following this revelation, the issue has become the main topic, and everybody is talking about it,” said Sibat.
Although Sagan’s name is not listed in the company named Dema Tiga Sdn Bhd, his wife’s name, and the names of his brother and daughter are reported to be the owners of the company.
Nevertheless, Sagan is implicated as Sharizat Jalil is implicated in the NFC (National Feedlot Corporation) run by her husband.
Sarawak Report alleged that Dema Tiga has received RM63 million in public contracts over the last five years including one for a rural water system funded by the federal government and commissioned by the Sarawak Public Works Department.
It was also reported by Sarawak Report that Sagan, his wife and daughter are the secret holders of three timber concessions to harvest belian wood (iron wood) in his parliamentary constituency.
The belian trees worth several millions of ringgit need to be harvested before the proposed dam floods the area.
“These revelations provide the answers to those who have been wondering why Sagan has been eager supporter of the dam and the defender of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud,” said Baru Bian, Sarawak PKR Chief recently.
Sagan has denied the allegations by certain quarters and individuals who he said were plotting to kill him off in his constituency ahead of the general election.
Sagan has been named by his party, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party, as the candidate to defend the seat for the Barisan Nasional.
Saying that he has nothing to do with all these-called timber contracts, Sagan said: “These allegations are the work of certain politicians who are collaborating with non-governmental organisations to tarnish me.
“I am studying all the allegations in details. I am thinking of legal actions against them to clear my name,” he said.
The proposed Baram dam is the most hated of all the dams that have been constructed and Sagan’s strong advocate for the dam may cost him the Kayan, Kenyah and Penan votes.
The anti-Baram dam group has collected more than 20,000 names of those who are against the dam.
The dam once completed will be 162 metres high and will flood an area of 41,200 hectares of mostly native customary rights (NCR) land together with 26 villages and longhouses in the Upper Baram River. Even Sagan’s longhouse of Long Anap will be submerged.
More than 20,000 natives will be forced to be removed and relocated elsewhere.
In the last state election, the Baram dam was the main issue which almost cost Dennis Ngau, a BN-PBB candidate to lose the Telang Usan seat, which is part of the Baram constituency as 55% of 13,623 Kenyahs, Kayans and Punans voted against him. He was ‘saved’ by 2,000 Iban voters from Puyut Polling district in the Marudi constituency.
It is interesting to note that for the coming election Sagan is going to face the same people in Telang Usan who voted against Ngau in the state election. To win, he must have the support of at least 60% of more than 10,000 Iban voters from the Marudi seat, the other part of the Baram constituency.
The big question is: Can he secure 60% of the Iban voters especially in view of the fact that they are mostly supporters of Sylvester Entri who had been expelled from SPDP? Entri’s bitterness against SPDP and its leadership including Sagan for his expulsion is too deep to be pushed aside.
You may recall that more than 30 longhouses led by their longhouse chiefs were angry over Entri’s expulsion so much so that they tried to stop SPDP President William Mawan Ikom from visiting a longhouse in Marudi in October last year.
Now these longhouse chiefs are looking forward for an Iban to contest the Baram seat, which hitherto has been represented by Kayans and Kenyahs in the last 40 years.
They have in their minds Sibat as their possible candidate. Some prominent Orang Ulu leaders including Harrison Ngau, the former MP are claimed to be supportive of Sibat’s candidacy.
There are also several other forces working against Sagan. After being an MP for four terms, he is generally perceived as a low performer by the voters.
For a significant number of times, he had delegated to his family members like his wife and brother-in-law to represent him at official functions.
This practice irritates the voters.
It is believed that Sagan is now in ‘hot’ seat.