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To dam or not to dam

Jenifer (centre) in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the event.

23rd July, 2019


KOTA KINABALU: A soft approach has been taken by the Warisan-led government on the proposed Papar Dam with an assistant minister calling on affected villagers to make their voice heard in black and white.

Moyog Assemblywoman Jenifer Lasimbang, who does not seem to know the exact location of the dam site, said the residents could write formal letters to the government.

She said dialogues involving those said to be affected by the dam construction, are ongoing with some village heads in the process of writing letters to her.

This, she said, is a platform to enable democratic practices among the people.

“There is a lot (of grouses) verbally, but I advised village heads to state their stand officially, written and stamped, and try to ask as many villagers as possible because we have to listen to the people.

“Even at the kampung level, we have to ensure…this is part of a democratic process – everybody has a voice so we must facilitate, give platform for them to be able to do so,” she said.

She added that multiple discussions have been made with villagers and native leaders in areas that would be affected including village heads in Ulu Papar last Saturday to obtain their feedback over the dam’s construction.

Among others, the people demanded further information about the proposed dam and urged the Ministry of Infrastructure Development to conduct more dialogues before finalising a decision.

“It’s a mixed reaction; some had outright said no, some said they need more information while some of them said it doesn’t matter because they need water,” she said after opening the Malaysia-Japan Children’s Art Exhibition here on Monday.

Jenifer who campaigned against the previous Kaiduan dam when she was running for the office said her role now as the people’s representative was to listen and bring forth their voices.

She said the scrapping of the previous dam was an achievement but that they would have to continue to look for other options now.

On the actual location of the dam, she said there has not been anything in black and white despite the proposed site at Mondoringin in Ulu Papar.

“So we are asking for official statement, paperwork and other necessary reports; we must have an informed decision. “We have to respect human rights, native rights, and go through the tedious and important process of free, prior, and informed consent.

“We must ensure that people actually believe in the government that upholds the principle of transparency, accountability, and responsibility,” stressed Jenifer.

She said she has been engaging Chief Minister Shafie Apdal and Datuk Peter Anthony on the matter and will continue to do so.

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