KOTA KINABALU: All state representatives should hold a round-table meeting to decide whether or not to proceed with the construction of the controversial Papar Dam.
Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin said this discussion must be held and the issue of the dam properly debated so that a consensus could be reached before deciding.
He said the meeting must also touch on solving Sabah’s water shortage problem, with or without a dam.
"Without any consensus and agreement from all parties, it is going to be useless to continue talking about the dam as a long-term solution as the government will once again face the issue of repeated opposition to its construction," he said in a statement recently.
On the ongoing initiative by the Sabah Water Department to reduce non-revenue water (NRW) in the city, he said this was not a long-term solution even though it may help relieve some water woes in Kota Kinabalu.
He said projects were being carried out to reduce NRW but in the long run, the most feasible method proposed by the government was to build a dam.
"And the proposed Penampang or Papar Dam as we call it is the same one that many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and some state leaders have been strongly against for years," said Chan.
NGOs and politicians including from Parti Warisan had been against the construction of the dam for various concerns such as floods and possible displacement of villagers.
The dam, said to benefit the whole west coast from Beaufort to Kota Kinabalu, was first proposed at Moyog (Penampang) as the Kaiduan Dam project over 10 years ago, before being shifted to Papar.
In 2019, the then state Infrastructure Development minister Datuk Peter Anthony said the damn had been moved closer to the Papar boundary and would not affect those in the previous location in Penampang.
Environmentalists and villagers said, however, that the area was not that far from the initial proposed site and could affect Papar River tributaries that run through the catchment areas there.
Back then, Anthony said the new “final” site selected for the RM3bil Papar hydroelectric dam was adjacent to Kampung Mandoringin in Ulu Papar.
Scrapping the project was among Pakatan Harapan's 2018 election promises.