KAPIT: The payment of RM4.37 million last Tuesday to 371 families from seven of the eight villages affected by the Murum hydroelectric dam project represents yet another ‘promise fulfilled’ by the government.
Six of the seven villages are Penan villages, and the other a Kenyah-Badeng one. The Penan settlements are at Long Malim, Long Singu, Long Tangau, Long Luar and Long Menapa, while the Kenyah-Badeng settlement is at Long Malim.
Museum Department director Ipoi Datan said the payment was for ‘penti pemali’ (payment for rituals) for those graves which would be inundated when the dam, which is about 70 per cent completed, is inundated.
On hand to witness the payment were Assistant Minister of Penan Affairs Datuk John Sikie Tayai and Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage Liwan Lagang.
Also present at the cash payout sessions which were held at Long Malim, Long Menapa and Long Singu were political secretaries to the chief minister Angeline Umis and Richard Wills, Kapit Resident Dahim Nadot and Belaga District Officer Abdul Halim Abdullah.
Ipoi said the government decided to make the payment following two negotiations with the affected Penans in Bintulu and Kuching last month over the blockade erected.
He said delay in paying the ‘penti pemali’ was cited by the Penans as one of the reasons for erecting the blockade which disrupted work at the dam.
A similar payout involving RM1.51 million was also made by the government through the Museum Department to Penans from Long Wat, which is located nearest to the dam, in August this year.