Saturday, January 29

Scorned ex-wives could ruin ‘Randy’ Rayong’s political career

(This story has appeared in Free Malaysia Today on Jan 24, 2011 and is reproduced for the readers of The Broken Shield)

KUCHING: Are conversions and polygamy the new political ball game in Sarawak? It appears that a rising number of political aspirants and have-beens are rumoured to be converting from Christianity to Islam to better their chances of currying favours with Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, who allegedly discriminates against non-Muslims.

Whether this new game plan will work for them in the coming state polls is left to be seen. But political observers are betting that a number of Barisan Nasional candidates “will fall” in the polls for these very reasons.

Meanwhile, the “hottest” gossip to hit Kuching streets is Engkilili state assemblyman Johnical Rayong’s recent conversion. Most of his constituents were in shocked disbelief at his conversion that is until his angry wife, Patricia Dexter Sudok, a Christian staff nurse in Kuching, spewed her angst.

She reportedly leant of her husband’s infidelity, marriage and conversion from an SMS message he sent her.

According to the reports, Rayong was caught for “khalwat” and was forced to marry one Kamasiah Abdul Jalil, a divorcee in her 30s with two children, who works in the chief minister’s office.

Rayong had apparently converted on Jan 29, 2010. (was it coincidence then that partyless Rayong who had waited four long years outside Taib’s door was suddenly accepted into the fold in 2010, courtesy of Sarawak United people’s Party whose decision to take him in has cost them dearly?)

Deceiving the Dayaks

The story gets better, Patricia also said that Rayong had been harassing her to return and campaign alongside him as a “Christian couple” in order to mislead his Dayak voters.

Rayong and apparently quite a few other “new converts” such as Mambong MP James Dawos Mamit and Marudi assemblyman Sylvester Enterie are seeking to conceal their new status from their Dayak constituents.

Dawos, incidentally, is Deputy Tourism Minister and Enterie is an Assistant Minister in the Sarawak cabinet.

All this is more fodder for the opposition, it appears. In the case of Rayong, who seems to have a cup-board-full of “skeletons”, he may have lost it all even before the race. According to a SUPP leader, the party is uncomfortable with Rayong’s “history” and is re-assessing his candidacy.

“The voters in Engkilili are not against him converting to Islam. Far from it. In fact, Christians and Muslims in Engkilili sit side by side in coffee shops or restaurants. They also visit each other during Hari Raya and Christmas celebrations. They always live in harmony.

“But they do not like him because he failed to inform them (of his new status) as well as his failure to look after his two Iban wives,” said the leader who refused to be named.

Rayong, he claimed, has neglected his two families. His two wives were said to have complained to Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Numpang. They alleged Rayong had failed to come “home” for the past three months or so. His first wife, Patricia, is related to Jabu.

So angry and disappointed are his wives that they are prepared to campaign against Rayong if he does defend his Engkilili seat.

Besides his scorned wives, Rayong will also have to contend with issues over the authenticity of his degree “as a medical doctor” and his political track record.

His opponents have claimed that Rayong is only a doctor of homeopathy, but had presented himself as a medical doctor and opened up a clinic where he dispensed medicines and treated patients.

They alleged that when the authorities demanded for his certificates, Rayong closed shop. It has also raised questions about his integrity.

In the 2006 state election, Rayong won the Engkilili seat on a Sarawak National Party (SNAP) ticket. During his campaign, he attacked BN coalition partner SUPP and its candidate Jonathan Krai Pilo.

But less than a month after his win, Rayong declared that he was independent and a BN-friendly representative. His angry supporters called him a “political frog” who is only interested in his own personal affairs.

He subsequently applied to join an off-shoot of SNAP, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) led by William, Mawan Ikom. His application was initially accepted in 2007, but faced with strong opposition from SUPP and Taib’s Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), he was forced to resign.

There was also a time when he wanted to join Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) if the Engkilili seat was to be given to PRS under a swapping arrangement with SUPP. But that arrangement failed to materialise and as a result, he lost interest In PRS.

SUPP reassessing Rayong

In the meantime, Rayong had applied to become a SUPP member and for two years he was left waiting. Then suddenly in September 2010, SUPP approved his application, much against the wishes of majority of its members.

The SUPP’s decision resulted in the resignation of the Engkilili branch chairman and the former five-term elected representative, Toh Heng San, from the party.

But by joining SUPP, Rayong has left behind at least 60% of his supporters who were either members of SNAP or the defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) and supporters of the stillborn Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC) of which he was the protem deputy president.

In fact, his supporters are still angry with him for switching parties as they had voted him in on a SNAP ticket. Many SUPP members in Engkilili, too, may not vote for him as they consider him a “frog” that has upset their branch leaders including Toh and Krai.

After more than 20 years as elected representative, Toh has a strong following not only among the Chinese, but also among the Ibans in Engkilili. Toh and Krai’s supporters will certainly not vote for Rayong for his criticisms against SUPP and for neglecting the welfare and interest of the Dayak community during the last election.

Today, Rayong joins the party that he had severely condemned. In September, when accepting Rayong into SUPP’s fold, the party president George Chan described him as the most “suitable”candidate to represent the party as he was not only close to the people, but also popular with the rakyat.

Now, in the wake of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s brazen command to give him “only winnable candidates”, Chan is being forced to acknowledge Rayong’s weaknesses and eat his own words of the latter’s “suitability” as Engkilili 2011 candidate.

Wednesday, January 26

To All readers in Kuching

Anyone who is interested to join Sarawak National Party (SNAP) is welcome to attend its rebranding process at Grand Continental Hotel, Kuching this Saturday, 29 Jan 2011 beginning from 8.00 am– 9.00 am registration.

Two VIP speakers will be among those
addressing the symposium.

Come early to avoid disappointment as the place is limited.

Any interested person can contact SNAP HQ or Joseph Tawie at 019-8763222

A RM1 billion fund for Dayaks

On Sunday, 23 January, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, announced at a Press conference that the Pakatan Rakyat proposes to create a RM1 billion Dayak Endowment Fund, when the Pakatan Rakyat takes over the state government in the coming election.

The fund is be headed by Dayaks who will be elected by the Dayak themselves, said Lim who is also DAP Nation Secretary General.

“This fund is to redress the gross neglect, improve the economic welfare and uplift the educational standards of the Dayak community,” he said.

First to react to Lim’s proposal is President of Sarawak United People’s Party George Chan who described the plan by the opposition a ploy to win Dayak votes.

Dayak leaders in the Barisan Nasional have so far made no comment.

What do readers think of the proposal? – The Broken Shield

Sunday, January 23

What are UBF and its objectives?

During the meeting at the SNAP headquarters. Seen from left are Jugol, Zainal Ajamain, Dr. Jeffrey, Nilakrisna James and Anthony Liman, SNAP vice president.

United Borneo Front (UBF) is non-partisan and will align with parties who are willing to assist UBF by pursuing for the Borneo Agenda and UBF’s core demands through parliament.

Last Thursday, UBF leader Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan sought the support of Sarawak National Party and was happy that that SNAP is prepared to work together with UBF to pursue this agenda and named Datuk Daniel Tajem as the UBF leader in Sarawak.

Tajem will amalgamate the forces and Sarawak to promote UBF through “Borneo Tea parties”, the government and the media.


1. That the Federal government to establish a “compliance Mechanism” vide a Ministry or an enacted body to implement their core objective and core demands stated herein and comply with Article VIII of the Malaysia agreement.

2. Demand for a fairer and more equitable revenue sharing formula including a review of the percentage of oil net revenue as well as fair and equitable representation and role in parliament/federal cabinet/judiciary and the civil and diplomatic services.

3. Restore the equal partnership status of Sabah and Sarawak to Malaya in the Federation including special rights and privileges for the abolishment of Cabotage/Transport/Trade policies that negatively affect the Borneo states.

4. Demand for the abolishment of Cabotage, Transport and Trade policies that negatively affect the Borneo states.

5. Demand for the respect and implementation of Native rights/NCR and articles 153 of the Federal Constitution.

6. Demand for a shift in the economic development focus to Sabah and Sarawak including the narrowing of the economic and digital divides between Malaya and Sabah and Sarawak, and;

7. Resolve the illegal immigrants (PTI) and “Project IC” problems and the threat to territorial integrity of Sabah and Sarawak including the passing of the heaviest deterrent sentence on rimes related to the issuance of citizenship to illegal immigrants.

Its mission is to reverse colonization-style form of governance and restore the special rights, privileges and equal partnership status of the Borneo States in the Federation.

That the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak will be a free, politically autonomous, democratic, secure and economically progressive state of Malaysia.

To ensure that the Malaysia agreement including the 20/18 points conditions, assurances and the undertakings by Tunku Abdul Rahman and those contained in the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report as well as the Cobbold Commission are respected and implemented as per Article VIII of the Malaysia agreement 1963.

Empowering the people by educating them about their political economic history; their rights and responsibilities, and to inculcate the spirit of our struggle for justice.

UBF, as a pressure group and civil rights movement, will align itself with political parties, organisations, and individuals who believe in our struggle and who can support, fulfill, or satisfy our objectives, demands, and agendas. We stand on the side of reason, logic and what is right for the people of Borneo.

The Broken Shield: Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan was supposed to meet leaders of Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU) and Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA) at Telang Usan on Thursday night, beginning from 7.00 pm. But because the hall was booked for another function, the meeting place was shifted to SNAP Headquarters where Dr. Jeffrey had met SNAP leaders earlier in the afternoon.

Sadly none of the SDNU and SDGA dared to come out to attend the function on the reason that there were many Special branch Officers around. They were scared that they might be “marked”.

I would have thought that SDNU and SDGA leaders are the cream of our society. If those civil servants who sit in the committees of the two organisations dared not come out, fair enough. But what about committee members who are pensioners?

Jeffrey Kitingan has been sent to Kamunting Camp under ISA for fighting for the rights of peoples of Sabah and Sarawak, you and me and our children and their children’s children. He is still fighting for it.

I thought we were the descendants of the famous headhunters of Borneo. But now weare so ‘takut’.

No wonder our community continues to be suppressed, oppressed and marginalized.

Tuesday, January 18

Join SNAP, Dayaks urged

SIBU: Former President of the defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) Daniel Tajem called on all Dayaks especially the ex-PBDS members in the State to join Sarawak National Party which is now undergoing a process of rebranding.

“The policy, principle and the objective of SNAP are similar to those of the defunct PBDS,” he said at the SNAP symposium in Sibu.

“What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for all our native customary rights land to be taken away to be made as estates of certain Barisan Nasional leaders and their cronies and family members with little pittance given to the land owners?

“Do you wait until your individual rights whittle down to nothingness?”
he asked.

Tajem, who was also former deputy chief minister, said that SNAP is the right avenue for the people to support.

He said: “We want to play an important part of a machine of politics that will churn the wheel and I can see that with the death of PBDS, we have no alternative but to support SNAP.”

Earlier in his opening g remarks, SNAP President Edwin Dundang said that the party’s symposium is to put SNAP back into the “factory” once again with the hope that it may churn SNAP out as either an old product with a new casing like an old wine with a new bottle or even become a different product with a new brand that will attract new sets of customers in addition to the previous Dayak and rural based set of customers.

“Inputs are needed from all of us present as to how we can together move SNAP once again,” he said.

He said that SNAP which was deregistered eight years ago by the Registrar of Societies has become legally operative since 23 June 2010 following the decision of the High Court of Appeal, which affirmed no legal reasons why SNAP was to be deregistered.

“SNAP was almost dead, only surviving through a very thin thread of so-called ‘stay of execution’ otherwise legally SNAP is dead.

“It was deserted almost over night as members left the party leaving behind some 70,000 members,”
Dundang said, calling on all members who had left the party to return in order to make the party stronger once again.

The party at that time had a membership of 123,000.

SNAP was regietered on 10 April 1961 and had played a major role in the formation of Malaysia. Its Secretary General Stephen Kalong Ningkan was made Sarawak’s first chief minister.

During the height of its electoral successes in 1974 SNAP won 18 state seats and nine parliamentary seats.

Today it has no elected representative either in Parliament or in the State legislative assembly.

(The story first appeared in Free Malaysia Today)

Monday, January 17


Picture of SNAP leaders during the symposium in Sibu


Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

There is an undisputable ring of truth in that adage.

At national level, billions of Ringgit of People’s money has been spent in the PKFZ project and in the process, the bank accounts of some powerful personalities have grown unmanageably fat.

If not for a change of government that has occurred in Selangor, these corrupt practices and the massive abuse of power involved could not have been discovered.

We hear of a few hundred millions ringgit kickbacks involved in the purchase of military wares. But yet, a submarine cannot drive and military equipmentare substandard.

Those billions of ringgit lost through the rampant practices within the BN beaurocracy could be saved for development projects that could better benefit the rakyat.

Today, as we sit here, the PM is paying a visit to Bakun Dam. Predictably some time later an announcement will be made that the dam will be sold to the state government at a favourable price and at a favourable scheme of repayment.

The federal government would have already made a loss of billions of ringgit and our state government would within a span of couple of years incur billions of ringgit in repayment, spending money that could be utilised for the people’s benefit.

Predictably also, like many of the mammoth projects before, the state government would either sell the dam pretty cheaply or sell the energy generated by the dam cheaply to Sarawak Energy Berhad.

Billions of ringgit of money of the people of Sarawak would had been spent, but ironically the people as consumers of electricity would suffer more by having to pay increased electricity rates and Sarawak Energy Berhad will be making huge profits.

Who own and control Sarawak Energy Berhad?

Billions of ringgit have gone down the drain in the failed First Silicon project. But to the BN leaders that does not matter. The members of the Board of Directors and the senior management appointed by the BN State government get fat pay cheques, fees and allowances.

Money-making government undertakings are privatised. Road maintenance and road construction function of the PWD, enforcement function of the Forest Department and a few others have been awarded to private entities. Who own and control these enterprises?

Who own and control CMS, PPES Works, Naim Cendera, Sarawak Forest Corporation, etc?
Prime state land, for eg.the government quarters area in Batu Lintang and Sungai Bakong area in Sibu etc, are alienated to Naim Cendera to be turned into commercial development projects. Again, who own and control Naim Cendera and how are they connected to people in power?

Those are but a few examples. Not many years ago, logging permits to large tracts of forest areas were invariably granted to children, in-laws, friends, nominees or political affiliates of those in power.

Now, large tracts of plantation lands are alienated to the same people. It is not so bad if the lands are state land but it would be sinful if the lands are NCR of Native communities. The BN government just couldn’t be bothered.

The BN government says it would not take away people’s land without adequate compensation but when a great number of native communities find land they have cultivated for generations with rubber, padi and fruits are alienated to a plantation companies, they are baffled. To them, the reality is they have been robbed of their land.

The BN government has been oblivious to the plight of the native land owners. It has embarked on a policy of freezing issuance of titles to NCR land and has amended the land code many times thus making it easier to grant provisional leases to companies belonging to BN leaders and their relatives and making it difficult for the NCR landowners to prove their claims to NCR lands.

These are the ways of modern-day Robin Hood i.e. rob the poor to give to the rich.

The announcement now that the government is carrying out perimeter survey of NCR land is calculated for election purpose when the government realises it is in danger of losing power. But why only now and why only perimeter survey and not survey of individual lots? In any case, those surveys that have been embarked upon are only at areas to serve the BN election strategies

In strategising to hold on to power at all costs, the BN leaders are preaching to the Tuai Rumahs and Ketua Kampungs to keep away opposition campaigners. That is a selfish and irresponsible tactic which is oblivious to the adverse consequences to the solidarity and social cohesion of the longhouses and kampungs. It is a sure recipe that will destroy the social and cultural fabric of our communities. Again the BN leaders couldn’t care less.

The BN and its predecessor, the Alliance, have ruled this country and this state for almost half a century. That is far too long by anybody’s reckoning. Some BN leaders exhibit arrogance of power to proclaim that only the BN, can bring development.

But the truth of the matter is of course that parties other than the BN if put to power, backed by the same or even an improved civil service and having access to the same consolidated funds can not only bring development to the people but can better administer and manage the state and country.

The Kelantanese have demonstrated that they are happy with a non-BN led government. They have returned PAS to power in consecutive elections. From what we hear, the people in Selangor and Penang are happy with their Pakatan governments.

So to provide a check on the almost absolute power wielded by the BN government in Sarawak, it becomes imperative that we go for change. Change can only be for the better.

We believe therefore that a rejuvenated and revitalised SNAP working alongside its Pakatan’s partners will be instrumental and crucial in bringing about this urgently needed change so that power will not become absolute and corrupt.

Let’s hope we will have a meaningful and fruitful Symposium.

Thank You.

Thursday, January 13

Don’t let Opposition into your longhouses, village chiefs told

This was the headline in The Borneo Post dated 10 Jan 2011 which quoted Political Secretary to the Chief Minister Andrew Shilling Banggit as saying.

“Longhouse chiefs have the right to say who can or cannot enter their premises. For instance, they can shut the door if they are approached by members of the Opposition who only want to spread ill-will in their longhouse,” he said.

“Don’t accept them (Opposition) into your longhouse. Longhouse chiefs have the right to prevent them from coming into their longhouses,” he said when officiating at a fire-prevention programme at Rumah Unjah Besh, Sungai Melanggan, Sibu.

The programme was organised by Rumah Unjah Besh’s village development and security committee (JKKK) in collaboration with the Sungai Merah Fire Rescue Services Department.

Penghulu James Semilan, Penghulu Jeffrey Sut and Tuai Rumah Unjah Besh were among those present.

Shilling, who represented Second Minister finance Minister Datuk Sri Wong at the function, cautioned longhouse dwellers that the opposition had the capacity to ‘poison’ their minds to hate the government.

“Thus, you must all be careful when allowing people or parties to come to your longhouse".

He added that longhouse folk especially from Bawang Assan constituency must continue to back the government as they still needed numerous developments to uplift their living standard.

Now let us compare this story with another from Opar, Lundu. Both of these constituencies are under Sarawak United People’s Party. The following story appeared also on The Borneo Post dated 12 Jan 2011.


Landowners from Kampung Stenggang along Bau-Lundu Road, whose lands were given to private companies for oil palm plantation, blamed Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) for its lackadaisical attitude in helping them solve their problems.

They claimed that SUPP and its elected representative had failed them on the issue despite many appeals and “SOS” calls made.

According to a press statement issued yesterday (11 Jan), which was signed by its village chief Motion Sodiap and chairman of Kampung Stenggang, Bau NCR Defence Action committee Carolus Joim Langis such inaction by SUPP had invited adverse remarks on the party.

As it is now, SUPP’s rating in our area is at its lowest ever since Ranum Mina held the seat some two years ago", they said.

They also said that the affected landowners had no other option but to go to court after having exhausted all political avenues.

Kampung Stenggang is part of Opar State constituency which is held by Ranum, representing SUPP.

“If Barisan loses in Opar, it is not because the people in the area dislike BN, but because SUPP’s inaction and indifferent attitude to the people’s complaints,” they said.

They said that BN had been performing satisfactorily in their area and it was now up to SUPP to show that it can work in tandem with the BN spirit of 1Malaysia – People first, Performance now, failing which SUPP ought to be ready to hand over the Opar seat to the Opposition in the next election.
In the first story, what does it imply? To The Broken Shield, Shilling does not want the Opposition to know the problems faced by the people in the Bawang Constituency. Nor does he want the people to tell the Opposition about their problems.

During the Sibu by-election in May last year, we went to many of the longhouses and found that the majority of the longhouses have no clean water, no electricity and no proper roads.

Worse, their native customary rights lands have been grabbed by the government and leased to crony companies.

Shilling wants all the people in the constituency to have a blinkered view of seeing what SUPP wants you to see. Wake up and get rid of your “Apai Saloi” mentality.

Tuesday, January 11

PRS Youth criticized for lack of activities

Former supreme council member of Parti Rakyat Sarawak Joseph Allen has criticized the PRS youth for lack of activities especially when the state election is very near.

“I have not seen them doing anything at all, whereas youth wings of other political parties are very active organizing this and organizing that,” he said, pointing out that if they do not do anything now they will be held responsible for the defeat of PRS candidates.

“Please do not rest on your laurels. You better do something to help the party. Today’s society is very well-informed on what is going on,” he said.

PRS youth is headed by Assistant Minister Mong Dagang and he is very busy in his constituency attacking and criticizing retired civil servants including retired teachers and army personnel who do not support him.

He even called them “left wing” elements for badmouthing the government.

Mong of course does not know why they are unhappy with the government, because Mong has never worked in the public sector.

These retired civil servants are unhappy because they have been deprived of their promotions even though they are qualified to hold even the highest post in the state; their children have been deprived of places in the universities, scholarships, recruitment to the civil service, and worst of all, they know their parents’ native customary rights land and their own land have been taken away by the government and have been leased to crony companies.

If all these happen to you, will you not be angry with the government especially with the Dayak ministers and YBs?

Friday, January 7

SNAP to be rebranded

Picture shows the group before the meeting

KUCHING: Discussions have now been carried out between leaders of Sarawak National Party (SNAP) and leaders of the defunct Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) on the move to rebrand SNAP which has been left in political doldrums for the last eight years after a leadership crisis.

The rebranding of the party will not only make it into a formidable force, but it will become a truly multi-racial party of the future.

Among those involved in the discussions include former PBDS President Daniel Tajem, former PBDS treasurer general Anthony Liman, Douglas Alau, former PBDS executive secretary and several hardcore members of the defunct party, who have not joined any political party since the deregistration of PBDS in 2004.

Committee members of the stillborn Malaysian Dayak Congress (MDC) have also joined the discussions.

Asked to confirm the move, the SNAP Secretary general Stanley Jugol admitted that several discussions have already been held in Kuching and in Miri and a number of these leaders have been appointed to hold key posts in the party.

“SNAP is open to all who share its aspirations and struggle. It is going to remain as an inclusive party working under Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Alliance).

“By rebranding the party, it is hoped that SNAP will once again return to its past glory,”
he said, pointing out that the formation of Sarawak Pakatan Rakyat in May last year gave an opportunity for SNAP to play a bigger role both nationally and locally.

“We want to play a bigger role in Pakatan, but the party must first reorganise or rebrand itself in an effort to strengthen the party,” Jugol said, adding that the party needs the expertise and the guidance of the veteran Dayak politicians.

“But we also need young and professional people to come forward to be members of the party, because they are going to be the future leaders of the party,” he said.

Jugol said that the party has agreed to organise asymposium in Sibu on 15 January to explain the move to the people.

He also said that another symposium will be held in Kuching towards the end of the month on the same objective.

Later in February, the “new” SNAP will be launched, he said.

Jugol said that the party also agreed to form a “Council of Elders” whose main task is to guide and advice the party on matters of importance such as the issues of native customary rights land, traditions, customs and Adat.

Following a bitter leadership crisis in 2002, SNAP was not only reduced into a “mosquito” party, but was also deregistered by the Registrar of Societies. However, it was given a stay of execution pending its appeal to High Court. It was only on 26 June last year that the Court decided on SNAP’s favour.

The crisis began when the party found its former Treasurer General Tiong King Sing, the MP for Bintulu guilty as charged for tarnishing the name of the party over the failed TV3 building project in Bintulu.

His expulsion on 11 April 2002 led to nine central executive committee members walking out from the meeting as they did not agree with the decision of the party.

It also triggered the mass resignations of nine of its elected representatives and members who on 5 November 2002 formed Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP). The “gang of nine” as they were popularly known was led by William Mawan Ikom, who later became president of the newly formed party.

The third party to be formed after Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and Party Negara Sarawak (PANAS), SNAP’s formation on 10 April 1961 opened the way for the Dayaks to participate in politics during Sarawak’s preparation for independence.

When Sarawak became independence through the formation of Malaysia in September 1963, Ningkan who was the founding secretary general was made Sarawak’s first chief minister.

In the height of its electoral successes, SNAP had nine MPs and 18 state legislators. In 1976 SNAP joined the Barisan Nasional until it was unceremoniously kicked out in 2002.

Today it joins a new coalition, Pakatan Rakyat together with DAP, PKR and PAS.

Tuesday, January 4

Masing suggests setting up of Resettlement ministry

KUCHING: Sarawak’s Land Development Minister James Masing has called for the setting-up of a new ministry to deal with the resettlement of the natives affected by the displacement of the construction of dams.

“This ministry must have the authority to apply for allocations for engaging experts in looking into issues related to resettlement as well as the power to negotiate for terms for those affected,” he said to newsmen.

“Currently there is no ministry which has ‘resettlement’ in its job description despite the fact that resettlement in itself is a highly complicated matter that needed much attention. This is especially so in terms of financial and social aspects where there must be proper dealing with the villagers who are involved in the resettlement process.

“Now we are only asked to act on an ad hoc basis. I have been asked to help up in the Bakun dam resettlement because my wife is an Orang Ulu who comes from there.

“As an anthropologist, I don’t mind undertaking the resettlement projects. However, without the proper setting up of a ministry, I was neither the authority to apply for allocations for engaging experts to look into the resettlement issues nor the power to negotiate better terms of the affected people.

“These people were asked to move not that they chose to it. To me, they should be provided with basic facilities including housing, water and electricity free in the resettlement area rather than asking for it,”
he said.

The needs for the setting up of the ministry are now greater in view of the fact that the state government is going ahead with the construction of more dams in the state, he said, pointing out that the state government should follow what was being done in China.

Masing, who recently visited China’s Three Gorges Dam, said that the project involved the resettlement of one million inhabitants and it has been done well because the resettlement budget took up as high as 45 percent of the construction cost.

“The dam costs US26 billion and 45 percent of it has been allocated for resettlement purposes. As for the Bakun dam, the cost of the dam is RM7.2 billion but only RM500 million has been used for the resettlement programme,” he said.

On top of that, he said, the people have to pay half of the amount back to the government for the housing and other facilities built for them.

“To me the cost of resettlement should be added to the cost of the construction of the dam,” he added.

Masing said that the government should have learnt lessons from its first Batang Ai dam built in 1982 that has flooded an area of 21,000 acres, involving in the resettlement of 3,000 Ibans in an area of 8,000 acres.

Presently, there are two on-going resettlement projects namely the Bakun and Bengoh dams. The Bakun dam was constructed for renewal energy which resettlement programme involved 10,000 natives from the Orang Ulu communities.

The Bengoh dam involved the resettlement of 1,600 Bidayuhs from four villages of Kampung Taba Sait, Kampung Rejoi, Kampung Bojong and Kampung Semban.

Masing admitted that the problems of relocation and resettlement programmes of the natives living within the affected areas have not been fully resolved due to the dissatisfaction among those affected.