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Listen to the People's Views - Dr. Jeffrey

Kota Kinabalu:    “The Sabah government should listen to the views of the people affected by the proposed building of dams in Kaiduan in Penampang and Tambatuon in Kota Belud.  This is equally applicable to other projects that affect the lives and livelihood of the people” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief in commenting on the on-going spat over the Kaiduan dam.

People just do not complain for no reason.  There are obvious reasons for the grievances of the people affected by the proposed Kaiduan dam in Penampang which may affect about 10 villages in the district and thousands of people living there.

It may be traumatic and nerve-wrecking as it involves displacement and uprooting from their villages which the villages have known all their lives since the days of their ancestors.

There may also be a gap in information getting down to the people on the ground.  So, it would be better to have proper dialogue between the government and the people so that there is transparency and feedback from the people.  The dialogues will ensure the right information is available and that a viable win-win project can be implemented or a bad unsuitable project is avoided.

The old days and old ways of the government of the day knowing everything and knowing what is good for the people is dead and gone in the modern era of online communication and information available at the fingertips.  The government can no longer hide information from the rakyat.

The government and the Ministers, civil servants and consultants of any project need to learn that that they can no longer impose their decisions and will on the people anymore.

The signs are omnipresent with the people in Moyog, Penampang and Kadamaian voting out the incumbent ruling government ministers and candidates are warning signs for the Sabah government to take heed of the people’s voices.

For the Kaiduan and Tambatuon dams, the Sabah government owes the people a proper and informed dialogue with full and frank disclosure of the projects and to give the people a proper and due opportunity to be heard before evaluating to proceed with the dams.

For all we know, there may be a hidden agenda somewhere by some people.   There could also be other possible solutions.  From feedback gathered, there could be a better alternative site and alternative river to the Tambatuon dam.   

For the Kaiduan dam, the solution may lie in expanding and improving the efficiency of the existing dams and building a smaller alternative dam to the proposed Kaiduan dam.  A bigger dam could also be built further away without displacing so many people and villages and piping the water a longer distance to Kota Kinabalu and the surrounding areas.
If building a further alternative dam is an issue of costs, it should not be an issue at all.   If the federal government can fund the new Pahang-Selangor water pipeline through a specially built 43 km. transfer tunnel and through the Titiwangsa Main Range from Pahang to Selangor/Klang Valley costing RM3.94 billion and a total project cost of more than RM9 billion, surely it can fund the alternative dam for Kota Kinabalu, if necessary through a new water tunnel through the Crocker Range.

After all, the federal government and Petronas will be receiving RM26.6 billion from Sabah’s oil and gas in 2014 and the Umno/BN federal government owes its current stay in power due to the MPs from Sabah.  If the current 22 BN MPs from Sabah were to switch camps, there could be a change of the federal government or another round of fresh elections.

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