Beloved missionary who built S'wak's first micro-hydroelectric dam dies

  • Nation
  • Friday, 01 May 2020

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MIRI: Pioneering Mill Hill Catholic missionary Brother Albert Rottensteiner (pic), who built Sarawak's first micro-hydroelectric dam, has passed away.

Brother Albert, an Italian missionary who holds a Malaysian permanent resident status, died aged 87 in the missionary retirement home in Brixen town in northern Italy on April 29.

He had served in Miri Catholic Diocese in northern Sarawak for 38 years, transforming the lives of thousands of Orang Ulu natives before retiring and returning to Italy in 2000.

Orang Ulu National Association chairman for Sarawak Peter Kallang said the late Brother Albert was a hero to the local natives.

"I was on the phone talking to Brother Albert on April 29 and several hours later I received a message from a friend that he had collapsed and died after a meal.

"He was born in 1933 and came to Sarawak in 1963.

"By the time he returned to Italy in 2000, he was holding a Malaysian permanent resident status, recognition from the government for his role in transforming the native communities in Miri Diocese, especially in Marudi and Long San where he served the longest.

"When he was here, he built the St Pius Primary School, St Paul church, started a trading complex in Long San, modernise farming there and built and commissioned a micro-hydro dam in Long San, the first such micro dam in Sarawak.

"He also constructed the Long San clinic.

"He taught modern agriculture methods, commerce, technical skills in carpentry and electrical wiring to local natives and turned around the lives of thousands of poor natives.

"I have never met anyone so innovative, hardworking, prayerful, disciplined and friendly like Brother Albert," Kallang told The Star.

The micro dam built by Brother Albert in 1979 provides electricity for some 3,000 natives in Long San and its vicinity, a remote enclave located six hours by timber road from Miri.

Kallang, who is Save Sarawak Rivers chairman, said Brother Albert had drawn strength from his faith in God.

He dedicatedly offered himself in sincere service to God with the other Mill Hill missionaries who brought education and Christianity to this state, said Kallang.

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