KUCHING: Some 15 headmen in Belaga, whose villages had been affected by the Bakun dam, are against a proposal by the state government to turn 18 islands in the dam reservoir into national parks.
State PKR chairman Baru Bian said apparently these headmen were believed to have made written objection against the proposal.
“They are going to have public demonstrations in the coming weeks to show their objection,” he told a press conference here yesterday.
Baru said the government should consider giving these islands back to the people, who had lost so much in giving Bakun to the nation.
Furthermore, he said, the government need not wait for evidence that these were pemakai menua (communal land).
Instead, he said, the state government should go to the ground and heed the local sentiments.
Recently, the state government issued a notice under Section 10(1) of the National Parks and Nature Reserves Ordinance of its intention to gazette an area of approximately 66,721ha in the upper reaches of Batang Baleh as Baleh National Park as well as 18 islands in the Bakun dam reservoir as Bakun Islands National Park with an area of approximately 5,528ha.
According to the notice, anyone with rights or privileges over the land must submit their claims together with evidence to the Chief Park Warden in the Sibu regional office within 60 days of the publication of the notice.
On a separate matter, Baru urged the state government to make agricultural assistance and opportunities available to all.
While he praised the state’s efforts to improve the livelihood of the rural people through rubber planting projects, he said assistance had to reach everyone regardless of their political affiliation.
“We have received reports from Baram area that these assistance had been withdrawn because they were PKR supporters.
“We would like the Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu to fulfil his promise that these assistance will benefit all rural folk.”
Another matter of concern was that Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority should not have a restriction whereby it needs a minimum of 10 families to commence a rubber plantation project.
Baru said as long as there was ample land to start a project, it should not matter if there was just three of four families.
Furthermore, he said, don’t subject this to endorsement from the Land and Survey Department over which was NCR land.
“If you do, the department will not give its approval as it will say it is state land.
“The best option is to get the community leaders in the area to verify if the area was NCR and then move ahead with the project.”
He said the same went for fish fry projects.
He called on the people to approach the agriculture departments in their areas and get these fish fry to rear.