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Dam-threatened villagers vow to fight to death

Youths from Kg Tambatuon are prepared to sacrifice
their lives to defend their land.
KOTA KINABALU: A group of 30 or more youths from Kg Tambatuon, Kota Belud, has vowed to defend their village against the controversial Tambatuon dam project there.

“We are prepared to sacrifice our lives defending our land, instead of end up dying as a ‘refugee’ on others’ land,” they solemnly vowed.

They made the vow during a ceremony before three old Batu Sumpah (curse stone) at the village yesterday and were led by Jahim Singkui, the son of former village head there, Singkui Tinggi.

The three Curse Stones were erected by the forefathers of the villagers of Kg Tambatuon, during the British colonial era after the Japanese occupation, as a pledge between the then British government
and the villagers, that the village shall not be disturbed in any way.

The ceremony was aimed chiefly to remind the present leaders of their forefathers’ struggle to preserve and to defend their village from any encroachment.

Meanwhile, Agnes Liewpin, the division chief of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Kadamaian who led a delegation of SAPP Central Youth committee members, promised to support the villagers in their bid to save their kampung.

She also urged the state government to look for an alternative site for the proposed project, such as in Kg Pungitan, Kg Wariu or Kg Sorob, which are less populated.

The proposed dam will force the resettlement of around 600 villagers who have lived a relatively prosperous life without much government assistance.

However, Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan is adamant that the village must make way for the dam to boost rice production and avert a recurrence of the 2008 rice crisis.

He said that the construction of the Tambatuon dam would help to irrigate 25,000 hectares of unproductive paddy fields in Kota Belud.

Agriculture experts however have questioned the costly plan which would set back the government by between half a billion to one billion ringgit.

They contend that poor irrigation rather than short supply of water is the main cause for the low yields from the padi fields of Kota Belud.

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