Other sustainable alternatives to Papar dam should be looked into, says Kapayan assemblyman


KOTA KINABALU: A one-time grassroots leader who was against the Kaiduan Dam, and is now in the ruling state government, is sticking to her firm belief that other alternatives should be looked at.

DAP’s Kapayan assemblyman Jannie Lasimbang said this, amid an announcement by the state government that the Papar dam will be implemented.

It was to replace the controversial Kaiduan dam, but environmentalists and communities are saying it will still lead to the same impact.

Lasimbang, who was at the forefront of the campaign against Barisan Nasional’s plan to build the Kaiduan dam, made it clear that the native's rights must be respected, while taking into account development needs.

“From my personal point of view, as Assistant Minister of Law and Native Affairs, in this case if it is going to affect the natives, we need to ensure that we look at all these aspects of environment assessment, social impact assessment; these must be adhered to.

“But one thing, I also believe is we must look at the alternatives. Malaysia has committed to a sustainable development goal, meaning we should look at development from the perspective of being fair to not just communities, but also as sustainable for our environment as well.

“However, based on my previous experience being in Suhakam (as commissioner), looking at the resettlement and compensation (deals worked out by state government), it has been lacking in what is being promised,” she told reporters after the closing a workshop on underage marriages on Wednesday (July 3).

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal previously said he had spoken with Lasimbang and her sister, Moyog assemblyman Jenifer Lasimbang, who was also vocally against the Kaiduan dam, on the matter and while he respected their opinions, said the Papar dam project is needed by the state.

“There are also some misunderstanding that we are quiet, as it is a different situation where we are now the government.

On whether villagers or activists have approached her about their grouses against the Papar dam, she said there were some familiar faces from the past, and urged them to continue making noise where needed.

“My advise to them is to ensure that the government respect their positions. Continue what they believe and don’t be deterred, just because there are announcements on (projects).

“I hope there will be a good forum established for them, so they can talk about this in a proper platform.

“I will do my best within my government to give my point of view … of course there are things in government we need to improve, we need to have good dialogues,” she said.

On the actual location of the new proposed site, which was said to be around the same or close to the Kaiduan dam, Jannie said, "I think I better not comment on that because it is much more technical.

“All I know at the last state assembly sitting, a question was asked whether Enviromental Impact Assessment (EIA) report has been carried out, and it was very clear coming from Sabah Tourism, Culture and Enviroment Minister Datuk Christina Liew that it has not come out yet,” she added.

Jenifer, meanwhile when contacted, said she will not be making any statement on the Papar Dam, as it is not under Penampang.
   

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