KOTA KINABALU: Concern over the impact of the proposed Papar dam is growing.
Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) vice-president Datuk Johnny Mositun said the state government should submit proof that detailed and proper studies were carried out before going ahead.
He said apart from the location, other worries included the rights of the villagers and the dam’s environmental impact.
Similar concerns were also voiced out by three NGOs – the Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam, the Sabah Environmental Protection Association and Tanah Dahai.
“These NGOs have called on the government to follow due process regarding this mega project,” Mositun said.
He claimed that there was support from groups led by a certain individual with close links to a state minister and contractors and who did not represent the people of Papar or the affected villagers of Ulu Papar.“Why the need to build a dam in such a hurry?” he asked, adding that he had been receiving complaints from Kaiduan villagers about the issue.
Mositun added that it was puzzling that the location of the proposed dam kept changing.
“A detailed study must be made each time a new site is chosen, including an environmental impact assessment,” he said.
He pointed out that the latest site was close to the original Kaiduan Dam site in Penampang, suggesting that it was just a slight rehashing and modification.
He noted that over 100 villagers in Papar would be affected and their concerns must be addressed.
Mositun questioned why Penampang MP Datuk Darell Leiking and former Moyog assemblyman Terence Siambun, who had strongly objected to the original Kaiduan Dam proposal when they were in the Opposition, were keeping quiet.
He also took to task Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Peter Anthony, who despite claiming to champion the interests of Papar had supported the project.
“He did not talk about Papar’s longstanding requests for a second bridge and irrigation problems that had caused misery to so many padi farmers,” he added.
Separately, Leiking’s political secretary Pritchard Sebastian Gumbaris said the minister had repeatedly highlighted that not an inch of Penampang should be touched for the proposed dam.
He said Leiking had also stated that as Penampang MP, he had no right to interfere and that it was up to the Papar residents to make development-related decisions for their area.
Gumbaris called on the state government to adopt a more transparent approach with the project, particularly the exact location.
“This is important to resolve the confusion among the local community and put an end to allegations by certain people in painting a bad picture of the state government.
“They should act with professionalism. It is a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” he said.