SAMALAJU: The influx of new mega industrial projects worth RM44bil into the new Samalaju state constituency in Bintulu Division in northern Sarawak raises concern over their social and environmental impact.
A no-holds-barred political-dogfight has developed in the quest for political control of Samalaju – a rich seat that is worth more than RM60bil in existing and incoming projects.
Kidurong State Assemblyman Chiew Ching Sing, said at least 27 new mega-projects have been approved by the state government to be built in Samalaju in the coming years.
“These huge projects are in the metal processing and petrochemical processing sectors and also the pulp industries, he told The Star.
“They will definitely put a strain on social life and especially on the environment.
“The state must get ready for measures to deal with the pollution that may result from these projects.
“All the necessary mitigation measures must be in place now even before these projects start,” he said when interviewed.
Chiew, who is Sarawak DAP deputy chairman said Samalaju is a new state constituency carved out from his existing Kidurong seat.
Two Barisan Nasional component parties – the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) – have both publicly staked their claims to Samalaju.
Both parties have publicly announced that they will be fielding their candidate to contest in Samalaju under the Barisan Nasional ticket and leaders of both parties have been exchanging verbal volleys with each other over which party have more merits to contest in Samalaju.
The Star recently visited Samalaju and saw vast clearing of land and construction taking place in numerous locations in an area that already features gigantic industrial plants.
Chiew is unhappy that Samalaju had been taken out from Kidurong.
Chiew said that Kidurong is now only left with 19,000 plus voters.
“The Election Commission formed the new seat of Samalaju by taking away part of Kidurong and in the process they took away about 13,000 voters,” he said.
“Now my constituency is left with only about 19,000 voters.
“That is not the only issue. Samalaju now is made up of about 90% bumiputra voters.
“That means that Kidurong is left with mostly Chinese voters only.
“This is bad for racial integration. The Election Commission did not consult me or my party when carrying out the redelineation exercise. This is not democratic.
“Now BN feels they have the best chance of capturing Samalaju.
“That is why BN parties SPDP and PRS are fighting each other for Samalaju. It is a lucrative seat with lots of financial prospects now already there and much more to come in the coming years.
“Samalaju is worth more than RM16bil in existing projects and incoming investments in the 27 new mega projects that have been approved are worth another RM44bil” he said.
Chiew said his party will contest Samalaju and will make sure it fields a strong candidate.