Taib Caves In Over Bakun’s Refugees – But Who Can Trust BN?

Taib Caves In Over Bakun’s Refugees – But Who Can Trust BN?

27 Aug 2012

This post is also available in: Iban, Malay

Flooded out - One of Bakun's floating homes, 'jelatongs' that BN are now proposing to outlaw after being shamed on Australian TV

Following the expose on Australia’s Dateline programme last week, Taib’s state government has at last agreed to fulfil its own promises made to the people of Sungai Asap more than ten years ago.

Land Development Minister, James Masing has now announced that these refugees are entitled to the homes into which they were forcibly moved and they are no longer being expected to pay the government tens of thousands of ringgit for their new dwellings.

So, the message is clear.  When you are dealing with a government like BN you need to stand up for your rights and protest, otherwise they will exploit and abandon you.

There is no worse example of cheating and exploitation that what has been done to the 10,000 people of Bakun who have been flooded from their lands by that enormous dam.  The same happened to the people of Batang Ai and the same looks set to happen to all the hundreds of thousands more Sarawakians who are now threatened by Taib’s plans to build another 12 monstrous and unnecessary dams.

Promises are cheap

The people of Bakun were of course made to understand that they had no choice about their removal.  However, at the time they were promised that they could expect compensation in the form of replacement housing, jobs, compensation payments, land and also wealth from the electricity of the dam.  Free water and electricity were also frequently mentioned to local people by the politicians and bureaucrats who encouraged them to accept the move.

Just not home - the 'resettlement' at Sungai Asap - refugees have been threatened they must pay tens of thousands of ringgit each to the government for these homes

Once they got to the bleak pre-fabricated housing of the resettlement town of Sungai Asap they realised they had been misled.  Officials now told them they would have to pay for their new homes and that these were being valued far higher than the compensation payments they had received for their old homes.  Who had the RM50,000 plus that was being asked by the government for the structures that soon turned out to be badly built and sub-standard?

On top of that, protestors told the Dateline programme that the five acres of land that had been promised to each family, so that they could farm their own food, was never granted.  Some families have found small plots, but the government has never handed them their land titles.

Bakun - producing electricity that many residents of Sungai Asap cannot afford to pay for

So what happened to the billions and billions of ringitt that were made out of deforesting this vast area the size of Singapore in advance of the dam being built?

Why was none of this money used to compensate the local people, pay for their new homes, build adequate hospitals and schools, train them for new jobs and do all the things that had been promised by Taib’s politicians?

What happened to all the promised “progress and development”?

We know what happened to the money when we look at the big houses and jet set life-styles of BN’s politicians and their timber cronies.  Bakun was never about helping the poor people of Sarawak.

The Ukit have returned to their old lands and old homes, which are now floating on the water. BN plans to make them illegal

Faced with hunger and squalor and misery in Sungai Asap, many of those native people have now returned to their original village homes, which are now floating on the sides of Bakun’s enormous man-made lake.

Their pitiful plight and the outrageous story of their exploitation shown on prime-time Australian television is what has provoked the sudden stand down.

Masing, who had been the original Chairman of the Bakun Dam Resettlement Committee and therefore directly to blame for much of the misery, admitted in yesterday’s statement that the state government had previously adopted the stance that it would pay “full compensation” for all previous houses affected by the Bakun Dam project, while demanding the families should pay for the new homes built for them.

No surprise that the government put a low value on the houses it confiscated and a high one on the new ones it provided!

But now he has conceded that the state government has climbed down.  Masing claimed it was the visit by the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak before the last state election that had overruled this mean and arbitrary arrangement.  The PM had been worried at the bad publicity and was seeking a vote catcher and so agreed the Federal Government should pay 50% of the cost of removing the poor refugees from their debt.

Voters held to ransom?

James Masing has presided over this mess for twelve years - how can people trust another set of pre-election promises from this man?

However, Masing’s speech revealed a further scandal!  The money had been paid by the Federal Government in advance of the April 2011 election, yet 18 months later the State Government is still sitting on it!

Masing was blatant about Taib’s tactics in this respect.  He plans to use the announcement in order to curry favour with voters over two elections!  The promise of money that was made before the state elections in 2011 is to be announced again just before the next Federal Election, which is likely to be in 2013!

Why should the suffering people of Sungai Asap be forced to wait another two years to be given their right and to have promises fulfilled when at least the Federal Government has paid its share of the deal a good two years previously?

Do we think it is because Taib lacks funds or do we think it is because he is determined once again to try and bribe people with things that should be  rightfully theirs?

Twelve years after their brutal banishment from their lands the people of Bakun are still waiting for promises to be fulfilled.  And while it is good that Taib’s government has now been shamed into repeating these promises , who can believe a word BN say in advance of an election?

Masing should take heed of what his colleague Senator Idris Buang told Dateline in his interview.  The Senator said that any instances of outstanding compensation should be considered illegal!:

“they ought to be compensated. It would be illegal, actually, if they’re not”.

Yet there are thousands of such cases in Sungai Asap and his BN government has perpetrated illegal land grabs and requisitions against tens of thousands more throughout Sarawak.

Shrine to a past life - the tragic jelatongs of Bakun lake number 270 !

The people should learn from this lesson that ten years of meekness was rewarded only by meanness from BN and that only by standing up for their rights and by joining the demands of the opposition parties and human rights lawyers, who have been fighting their cause, have they managed even to gain the smallest concessions.

And they should never trust Taib to fulfil those concessions when they are made BEFORE an election with a commitment to delivering AFTER the election!

Taib’s government is now trying to ban the people who had in desperation returned to their floating homes after finding they could not make a living in Sugai Asap.  BN want to make an exclusion zone and outlaw these shrines to the past history of the Ukit people.

Is this a government that anyone wants to retain at the next election?




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  • aborium

    It is known fact that generally politicians in this country do not serve us well because they don’t tell the truth and they don’t keep their promises. More significantly, they act more like ‘towkay rakyat’ than ‘wakil rakyat’. This lies at the core of our present predicament.

  • Baleh Madman

    Resettlement Housing scheme – BN should not charged the displaced Dayaks at first place!

    After the Sg Asap Resettlement housing scheme conveniently written off by BN prior to state election, looks like the same shit still unresolved for the poor Bengoh Dayak folks affected by the dam project there…

    James Masing the ever-willing Dayak StoryTeller spinning lies, spoofs about Bakun dam benefits and prompt compensations well over 10 years is a clear proof how cruel BN towards the Dayaks even forcing them to pay for their new house loans which shouldn’t happen at first place!

    Chased away and then must PURCHASE/LOAN for their new house! Total madness by BN!

    Now same shit happen at Bengoh Dam and its resettlement housing scheme too.

    Again the poor Dayaks there left in limbo on their resettlement housing scheme status even after state election promises pledged by BN.

    The clowns Jerip, Dawos, Pemanca Austin again reprised their James Masing-roles in this sick comedy

    Worst still the same BN Kronies keep getting the new RM19 million housing contracts on top of earlier RM168.8mil contracts looted

    Fat profits looted by Kronies but benefits nothing for the poor Dayaks…typical BN lah


    Bakun families worried over compensation

    By Jacqueline Ann Surin, The Star, Friday, July 06, 2001

    PETALING JAYA: The 189 families in the Bakun area which have decided not to move to the state resettlement area in Long Asap and Long Koyan are concerned that they will not receive full compensation for their land which will be inundated by the Bakun dam.

    Bakun Region People’s Committee (BRPC) secretary Gara Jalong said they had received only 30% of the compensation due to them which was paid out in 1999.

    “We received a letter informing us of the 30% compensation payment but until now we still don’t know when we will receive the balance,” he said on Wednesday night during a public forum in Universiti Malaya on the plight of the Bakun-affected villagers.

    Gara, a Kenyah, who also represented the families still living in Ulu Balui, said the villagers had been told verbally by the district officer that those who refused to move to Long Asap and Long Koyan would not receive the rest of the compensation.

    “We are worried and clueless about our compensation. Whether we move to Long Asap or not, if our land is affected, we should be paid compensation in full,” he said.

    He said that authorities should reveal to villagers the perimeter of the land which would be affected by the hydroelectric dam.

    “Nobody has told us anything and, as a result, we don’t know how far up we should move,” he said.

    Gara, together with another six native representatives, was in Kuala Lumpur for three days to meet Human Rights Commission of Malaysia representatives and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

    The trip, organised by Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), was also to raise public awareness on the plight of natives.

    Among others, the representatives said that longhouses provided by the state in Long Asap were of poor quality and designed badly without consultation with the people.

    SAM legal adviser Meenakshi Raman said the construction of the longhouses was contracted to Bucknalls, a British company, which did not understand the social functions of the longhouses.

    “We urge the Government to reconsider the Bakun project as it has no economic benefit for the people and has caused them hardship,” she said after launching SAM’s campaign for public signatures against the project.


    Masing: Bakun Project to Benefit Villagers

    Borneo Post, Monday, March 05, 2001

    KUCHING: The revival of the Bakun project is expected to provide local villagers would with employment, said Minister of Social Development and Urbanisation and Chairman of Bakun Resettlement Sub Committee Datuk Dr James Masing. There are also many plantations around the Bakun resettlement areas which require many workers, he said.

    He conceded that currently not many villagers are keen to work there, but believe they will soon take advantage of the opportunity. The minister blamed NGOs for the reluctance of some villagers who still refuse to move to the resettlement zone.

    “This is rather silly because they (the NGOs) are encouraging these villagers to move backwards in time instead of forward,” he said but added that the villagers would have to move eventually as there would not be any facilities at the former location.

    “I do not know how many of you have been to the Bakun resettlement, but I have been to the old longhouses in Ulu Baloi before,” he said.

    Comparing the old and the new longhouses now, today’s longhouses are much better in terms of construction while facilities in the Bakun resettlement are much, much better with electricity and water supply and roads.

    “So what else do you want?” Masing asked when speaking to journalists yesterday. Moreover, the resettlement areas are only two hours drive from Bintulu compared with Ulu Baloi which took three to four days to reach. Masing said the sentiments among the older generations who refuse to leave their homes was understandable but the Bakun resettlement villages are to cater for the younger generations as well who shall have easier access to education and better facilities.

    Meanwhile, Energy, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Leo Moggie said local companies will benefit from the revived Bakun Dam project which now costs one-third less than earlier estimates. “Local companies, including those in Sarawak, with the expertise can participate in the dam construction,” he told journalists. Tender for the dam project shall be called soon. Moggie said the project cost has been lowered to RM9 billion from RM13.5 billion because the planned submarine cables to transmit power to Peninsular Malaysia has been scrapped.

    The Government has already spent RM1.5 billion to compensate displaced villagers. To date, 53 families have refused the offer to resettle at Sungai Asap.


    ‘Bakun Dam built to last’

    by Peter Sibon, The Borneo Post Posted on October 15, 2010, Friday

    Masing says facility structurally sound and people should not feel threatened

    BAKUN, Belaga: The safety of the people living downstream of the Bakun Hydro-electric Dam right down to Sibu is assured as the dam is “built to last”.

    “Bakun Dam is built to last. It’s structurally sound and made with both economic and human factors taken into consideration,” assured Minister of Land Development Dato Sri Dr James Masing.

    He said those living downstream of the dam had no reason to fear that the dam would collapse and bring disaster upon them.

    “What we have today is the product of many leading brains in the business of building dams around the world.

    “The dam will serve its purpose, which is to provide the power that our industries need.

    “I am very happy to witness the historical event (impoundment) as I was involved in the development of the dam since 1982,” said Masing.

    He was a research officer with Sesco before he joined politics in 1983.

    Masing, who was speaking to the media at the dam site here yesterday at the end of his tour of the facility a day after its impoundment, also gave the assurance that communication would not be interrupted after the impoundment exercise.

    Masing, who is Baleh assemblyman, also assured that the Rajang River could also be controlled to mitigate flash flood, after the exercise.

    Earlier on, Masing was briefed on the progress of the impoundment by the managing director of Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd, Zulkifle Osman.

    He was accompanied during the visit by his wife Datin Sri Corinne Masing, political secretary to the chief minister Angeline Umis, Kapit Walikota Philemon Nuing, and Councillor Tan Kian Hoo.

    Sarawak Hidro, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated, is the developer of the dam.

    The dam is expected to produce power by the third quarter of next year. The initial power is estimated at 300 megawatts and would gradually reach the 1,700MW. Its maximum capacity is 2,400MW.

    Bakun Dam which costs some RM7.3 billion has eight turbines.

    During a press conference held at his residence in Kapit early yesterday morning, Masing assured that the government would pay compensations to 35 families from four longhouses.

    These families did not move to Bakun Resettlement Scheme at Sungai Asap.

    The total compensation is estimated at RM1.12 million.

    “While over 12,000 people were resettled in 15 longhouses built by the government at Sungai Asap in 1990, these families of 120 people just refused to budge,” said Masing.

    He said besides the compensation, each family will also be paid an allowance of RM7,175 for removal, transport and performance of cultural or religious rituals, and a subsidiary allowance of RM5,000 for building materials at their new longhouse site at Naha Jale.

    Masing said the Land and Survey Department is now processing the payments and Kapit Resident’s Office had fixed Wednesday, Oct 20, to pay the affected families.

    He also said that based on the survey by the Belaga District Office in April this year, there were 177 families or almost 1,000 people who are not included in the first group mentioned above.

    “As they were originally from the resettlement scheme of Sungai Asap, the government would assist them to move back to their longhouses at Bakun Resettlement Scheme. A subsidy of RM2,000 will be paid to each family,” he said.

    Masing stressed that for those with ‘bilik’ in the resettlement scheme, the government has decided to give them a 50 per cent discount or RM25,000 of the cost.

    “The government has also decided to release the ‘bilik’ in the scheme to all the owners whose compensation is RM25,000 or below.

    “In essence, the government is topping up the cost of the ‘bilik’ for those whose compensation is below RM25,000.

    “Meaning they are not required to pay anything now other than the compensation money which has been withheld,” he said.


    Govt cancels resettlers’ RM41-million debt

    by Peter Sibon, Borneo Post, January 16, 2011, Sunday

    BELAGA: Prime Minister Datuk Patinggi Najib Tun Razak has announced that the federal government will write off the remaining RM41 million housing loan to some 1,500 families in the Sungai Asap Resettlement Scheme.

    He said the decision was taken as the people in the resettlement scheme have no proper income.

    In all, some 10, 000 people were affected as a result of the resettlement programme when Bakun Hydro Dam was built more than a decade ago.

    “In principle we will cancel the housing loan. The details and mechanism of how it will be done will be discussed with Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd, the developer of Bakun Dam,” Najib told the people at a meet-the-people session at Rumah Belor, Sg Asap here yesterday.

    He added the government wanted to write off the loan because it understood their plight and hardship.

    The prime minister was taken by their plight and promised to bring more development to the people displaced by the dam.

    He had earlier revealed that the federal government acted in cognizance with the state government which had also cancelled the other half of the RM41 million allocated for the housing scheme.

    Besides announcing the cancellation of the remaining housing loan, Najib also announced that the federal government will build the much awaited Bakun-Belaga Road at a cost of RM62 million.

    He said the road would be built by the army to lessen the cost.

    Najib revealed that if JKR were to build the road, it would cost RM350 million.

    “But the army will build it under the ‘Jiwa Murni’ programme to reduce the cost,” he said.

    Najib also announced that the electricity supply to the people of Sg Asap will be connected to the main grid at a cost of RM22 million.

    Najib, who is also Minister of Finance said he was sad to hear that the people in Sg Asap did not get enough land to increase their income as the allocation was only three acres per family.

    “We will find the best ways to allocate more land to each family to ensure the people have a better income,” he said.

    Najib announced that the government would also build nine resthouses (Rumah Arau) for Penan pupils at Sg Urun at a cost of RM100,000 each.

    He said the government’s transformation plan was to ensure that no race was neglected in terms of development.

    “Our desire is to see that no single race – no matter how small or isolated – will be left behind by the present government,” he reiterated.

    At the function, the prime minister gave a RM5 million allocation to the Bakun Trust Fund, headed by Minister of Land Development Dato Sri Dr James Masing who is also chairman of the Bakun Special Resettlement Committee.

    Najib also announced a RM1.14 million allocation to the Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) to train entrepreneurs to ensure the Dayak community especially Ibans, Bidayuhs and Orang Ulus were not be left behind in business.

    He also gave RM450 each to 114 primary pupils and RM600 each to 36 secondary students.

    Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Billy Abit Joo also spoke at the function.

    Some 3, 000 people gathered at the longhouse, including some federal and state ministers.


    Villagers demand full compensation from the state before being resettled

    by KERNI PUAH, The Star, Tuesday August 10, 2010

    RESIDENTS of four villages affected by the construction of Bengoh Dam in Penrissen will not heed the state’s directive to be resettled until it pays full compensation for their houses, crops, land and other property.

    The state has so far compensated them for only their houses and land that will be inundated, but not for their farm land and native customary rights (NCR) land.

    The 359 villages demanded that the state pay everything before they agree to move to the resettlement area near Kampung Semadang.

    Construction of the RM310mil Bengoh Dam began in August 2007. It is slightly behind schedule and set for completion in December this year.

    Bengoh Dam Resettlement Committee coordinator Pemanca Austin Dimin, when queried on the villagers’ claims, said there were several matters which needed to be addressed.

    He said that a total of 1,600 people from Kampung Taba Sait, Kampung Rejoi, Kampung Bojong and Kampung Semban were affected by the project.

    “The villagers insist on not paying for the houses which the state will build for them at the resettlement site,” he added.

    Dimin said: “There are 155 families squatting in their parent’s houses and demanding that the state give them free houses at the resettlement area if they need to move there.”

    The state planned to build 204 houses costing RM48,000 each to be purchased by the resettlers, he said.

    Syarikat Perumahan National Bhd (SPNB) will provide an allocation to build the houses. As at yesterday, however, work at the site was still at clearing stage.

    Earlier this year, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Peter Chin said he would talk to SPNB to speed up the allocation so that the affected families could move to their houses in June next year.

    Dimin believed the unsettled matters could have cropped up due to the absence of studies on the social aspects prior to the project’s implementation.

    In view of this, he said the state was looking into these aspects to help resolve the issues.

    The dam was proposed to meet an increasing demand for treated water in the Kuching and Samarahan divisions.

    Based on studies, raw water from the dam when completed would meet the demand from Kuching and Samarahan until 2030.

    The dam will have the capacity to store 144.1mil cubic metres of water and increase raw water production at the Batu Kitang treatment plant from the present 786 to 2,047 mega litres per day (MLD).

    Presently, the reservoir at Batu Kitang, which provides most of the domestic and industrial water supply in Kuching, has a capacity for only 786 MLD while demand in Kuching alone stands at 635 MLD.

    The Bengoh Dam project uses latest technology that is recognised worldwide. Its construction involves the use of roller compacted concrete (RCC) technology which is proven in developed countries and will ensure a good and lasting dam.

    It is the second dam in Malaysia to use RCC technology after the Kinta Dam in Perak which was completed three years ago.

    Naim Holdings Bhd is the main contractor for the dam.

    The company is also responsible for the construction of a road linking Kampung Semadang and the resettlement area leading to the main road of Jalan Puncak Borneo. This project which began early this year is 70% completed.

    On the project’s delay, StarMetro was told that multiple factors including heavy rain at the end of last year and early this year were the reason.


    Kpg Rejoi Folk In The Dark About New Homes

    The Borneo Post, August 9, 2011

    Several residents of Kampung Rejoi, that is a of the 4 affected villages, yesterday uttered their regard on this matter.

    They hope that the houses would be since to them for giveaway so that it would not usually ease their financial weight but moreover as a form of reward for all the romantic suffering they had to continue to segment with their present homes.

    Kampung Rejoi’s Youth cabinet chairperson Tim Kawen, 43, mentioned the villagers were keeping on to promises done by specific leaders not long ago that they would be authorised to pierce in for free.

    “We do not know about the correct arrangements on our resettlement.

    “We still pin our hopes that the guarantee to give us giveaway houses will be fulfilled…the leaders should consider our gratification too,” he said.

    Fellow villager Genso Ese, 30, mentioned he hoped the supervision were receiving note of the sacrifices they (villagers) had to make by leaving their homes that they had lived for many generations, not counting the traditional home they had there.

    He sharp out that many of the people there were low-income farmers who would not have the means to purchase new houses.

    “It does not matter as to when our new houses will be completed.

    “What counts right away is that you obtain to pierce in for free,” he said.

    Meanwhile, Bengoh representative Dr Jerip Susil mentioned the subject of either the supervision would enable these houses to be since giveaway to the affected villagers had nonetheless to be decided.

    When contacted yesterday, he mentioned there had been countless enquiries by the people on the matter.

    “One thing for sure, their new homes are being built beneath the Rumah Mesra Rakyat (RMR) scheme, but you do not know nonetheless if these would be since giveaway to the people,” he said.

    Apart from Rejoi, 3 other settlements, namely Semban, Taba Sait and Pain Bojong are to be replaced by the building of the RM315 million Bengoh Dam. The complete race is about 1,000 people from 394 families.

    A home between Kampung Semadang in Penrissen and Kampung Skio in Bau had already been cleared to resettle the affected residents but the entire routine could not go uniformly as a few villagers were still dejected with specific things, quite on how they were compensated.

    The Bengoh Dam involves building a fountainhead to store about 144.1 million cubic metres of H2O to encounter the taking flight final for treated with colour H2O in the southern segment of the state.

    The building of this dam is mentioned to be finished but its seizure is tentative the finishing of the resettlement intrigue is to replaced people.


    Unresolved resettlement issue stalls impoundment process

    The Star, Friday October 14, 2011

    KUCHING: The Bengoh dam construction is completed, but authorities are unable to begin the impounding process because the resettlement housing scheme is not ready.

    “There is a suggestion that perhaps half of the dam can be impounded first while villagers wait for the housing scheme to be completed. That’s a suggestion we are considering,” Bengoh assemblyman Dr Jerip Susil told reporters here yesterday.

    “But it depends. There will be problems arising from that suggestion and we’re studying the impacts. Nonetheless, the fact is Bengoh will be a big water source that is very important to Kuching. We are already running low on water supply.”

    Dr Jerip, who is Assistant Health Minister, said authorities had set a new target of readying the houses for the affected 1,000 villagers before the end of next year.

    “The end of 2012 is the absolute latest. Our hope is that the houses will be ready by June next year, then the people can move and we can fully impound the dam,” he said.

    According to Dr Jerip the builder of the resettlement village has been told to speed up the building process.

    “The basic infrastructure is mostly there already — the roads, the water supply, electricity, all mostly done, except of the houses.”

    On a related matter, Dr Jerip said the state government had agreed to the villagers’ request to expand an existing perimeter survey in the Bengoh area. “There were some outstanding issues. The perimeter survey is not completed yet, but we’ll also survey land outside the perimeter (last agreed on). We will compensate according to fair rates.”

    Dr Jerip said the state government has agreed to speed up the entire process so that the dam could begin impoundment as soon as possible.

    The flooding of the Bengoh dam will affect four villages of Kampung Pain/Bojong, Kampung Semban, Kampung Rejoi and Kampung Taba Sait.


    Naim gets final package worth RM19m of Bengoh dam project

    By JACK WONG, The Star, Monday March 19, 2012

    KUCHING: Naim Holdings Bhd has been awarded the fourth and final package of Bengoh dam project in Penrissen near here, bringing the total contracts the company secured to nearly RM570mil.

    The fourth package, worth RM19mil, is for the construction of 204 detached houses for some 1,500 villagers from four Bidayuh settlements who would be relocated before the dam was impounded.

    The settlements, which are all inaccessible by road with the furthest to take eight hours by foot to reach from the nearest Jalan Daru, off Jalan Puncak Borneo, would be submerged in water when the dam reservoir is flooded.

    The new houses are expected to be ready in a year’s time. Sarawak Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan performed the earthbreaking ceremony for the housing project recently.

    The RM310mil dam had been completed about 18 months ago. The second package is for the construction of the RM70mil Sematang-Skio Road that will provide access to the resettlement scheme.

    Contract for the third package, worth RM168.8mil, involves the design and development of basic infrastructure, including a road system for the housing area and agriculture land, water and electricity supplies, for the scheme, located about 43km from the city.

    The project is undertaken by wholly-owned subsidiary Naim Engineering Sdn Bhd.

    Naim corporate services and human resource senior director Ricky Kho said the Sematang-Skio Road access road was near completion.

    “Works for the infrastructure package areprogressing well and it will be ready in three months,” he told StarBiz.

    The dam, which is 63m tall and 267m long, is designed to secure increasing raw water needs for a greater Kuching and Samarahan up to 2030.

    The Kuching Water Board now draws its raw water from Sarawak River.

    A lake with a surface area of about 10 sq km will be created when the dam is impounded. The dam reservoir could store some 144 million cu m of water.

    Bengoh dam is the second in Malaysia built using the roller compacted concrete technology.

    Kho said the “dam’s impoundment, which had been delayed by the relocation of the villagers, would take nine months.”

    The Sarawak government will compensate the villagers for moving out from their ancestral homeland. They will be given agriculture land for farming activities.


    Resettled villagers still hopeful of being given free houses

    The Star, Monday March 12, 2012

    KUCHING: Residents of the four villages affected by the RM310 million Bengoh dam still hope that they will be given free houses at the Bengoh Resettlement Scheme (BRS) even as there is no confirmation on the matter.

    During a ground-breaking ceremony of the housing project site near Kampung Semadang about 50km from here on Saturday, there was no official announcement stating that the affected 204 families would get the houses free.

    “There was no decision made yet on the matter (free houses) because our main focus now is to build the 204 units of houses and install other basic infrastructure,” said Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister Datuk Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, who officiated at the event.

    The affected families from the four villages, namely Kampung Taba Sait, Kampung Rejoi, Kampung Pa’in/Bojong and Kampung Semban, should have moved to the resettlement scheme in 2010 but the relocation was delayed due to some problems.

    They demanded that they be given free houses at the new resettlement after refusing the offer by the Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd (SPNB) to build a house for them at a price of RM89, 000 per unit, stating that they did not want to be burdened by bank loans.

    Last Saturday, they were hoping for the good news.

    Chairman of the liaisons committee on the resettlement, Itodio Peu said as affected residents were forced to move, so it was just fair they are given free houses.

    Peu, when met at the ground-breaking ceremony, also said the villagers would not move to BRS until their demands were fulfilled by the state government.

    “The villagers have demanded they be given free houses, along with having their lands, crops and properties to be fully compensated,” he said.

    Peu also disagreed with the suggestion for primary school pupils from the four villages to be moved to study at SK Bengoh.

    “The idea will not only burden these pupils but also their parents.

    “The authority should build the schools and the necessary facilities such as community halls and churches first at the BRS before asking us to move to there,” he said.

    Peu said as a result of the construction of the Bengoh dam, 90% of crops planted by villagers of Kampung Taba Sait such as rubber, cocoa, pepper and fruit trees was destroyed.

    According to him, the state government had yet to pay compensations for their other properties such as houses, land and crops, as well as monthly financial aid as promised to them.

    “We were promised payment of disturbance allowance, but so far no payment has been made,” he said.

    The construction of the BRS housing units totalling RM19 million would start this month and is expected to be completed by December this year.

    According to Housing Assistant Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, these project would be implemented by the Housing Development Corporation (HDC), through its contractor Naim Engineering Sdn Bhd.