Monday, August 29, 2011

When `people's representative' speak like `Government's representative'

The Bengoh dam project began discussion as early as 2003, actual construction started in 2008, and finish construction last year in 2010.Impoundment of the dam was scheduled for midlle of last year-but various reasons eg the state elections, caused it to be delayed till now. In the process there had been numerous occasions where the proponent tried to justify it to the 1000 over affected residents through a number of forums and discussions. From our research on the dam's construction history we found that the `elected representatives' almost always speak for the government as the proponent of the dam project. Then who will speak for the people?

Even without an organised voice the residents actually questioned the justifications given to the residents eg The MP for the area Dr James Dawos Mamit (see the video below) said repeatedly that the residents will benefit from the work opportunities and development of infrastructure for the place. But what good if the people have to move away from the place? The MP also said that the residents must move, among others, to avoid polluting the water meant as a reservoir for drinking water for Kuching. But the residents found a map proposing tourism projects around the dam once the residents left-with their homes converted into home stay tourism props! Why the pollution argument does not apply to tourists but only to the residents? Why the residents cannot stay to benefit from the tourism development-after they had made the ultimate sacrifice of making way for the dam? Actually a significant proportion of the residents had constructed an entirely new village at higher altitude to avoid the dam while at the same time keep their ancestral lands under their feet!

As a worst example: the most part of Semban village will not be submerged by the dam-but they are asked to leave -leaving their homes targeted for home stay tourism. Is there a plot to grab the lands and houses of the residents behind the construction of a public amenity? MP James Dawos Mamit also said that the residents must choose where they want to move. Then lately the government decided that they must move to Medan Tun Abdul Razak, miles away from their ancestral land. Did the residents get to choose the resettlement locations as promosed? Did they get to choose a Bidayuh name for their resettlement area-may be after their own heros rather than a name of another community? Without going further we find that the `government representatives' no longer speak for the people-let alone their best interests!

Now it is left to the Malaysian public to come to the help of these citizens who are cornered by a development project where all manners of private interests are inserted in the name of building a public amenity. Things may be different if the `elected representative' actually speak for them-you may think. The residents who missed an opportunity in the state elections will have another chance in the coming General Elections!

A tourist's video here actually show how the Kampong Sait residents had made their choice by the most concrete way they can ie build a new village on higher ground. What more the `elected representative' and the government he speak for, need to know where they choose to move?

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