Penguang: Make issues public domain

The Long Lama bazaar.

A serene view of Sungai Tinjar.

LONG LAMA: BAT7 was ‘escorted’ by Marudi police chief from the town which gave us the privilege of experiencing a less bumpy private road built by a plantation company.

The travelling time was cut by half which was kind to old bones.

While we were thankful to the plantation owner for allowing us to use their private road, we could not help but wonder why a government-built road could not be on par with, or better than a private road.

It brought to mind what the Assistant Minister of Local Government Datu Dr Penguang Manggil said in jest to BAT7 about the constituency: “I am inheriting a kingdom which is 15 to 20 years behind time.”

Penguang praised the Borneo Post Adventure Team for highlighting the issues in Marudi, such as the road condition and the poor state of SK Sungai Arang.

“To highlight these issues is not to slam the government, but it is to be the voice of the people,” he told longhouse folks during the closing of Gawai Dayak at Benang Paling yesterday.

“Stop using the media to play the blaming game,” Penguang said, adding that there are serious issues to be highlighted and put on public domain.

He urged everybody to work together for the development of the area for the good of the people.

Penguang (left) takes part in the ‘miring’ with Baram MP Anyie Nagau (centre) and others.

The soft-spoken Marudi assemblyman said he is highlighting various issues through the media so these issues would become public domain. How well said but development, low crime rate and prevailing peace and harmony cannot be achieved by the assemblymen alone as they need contributions and commitments from all parties concerned.

Although Marudi town has a low crime rate, other places nearby and those under Penguang’s constituency are not enjoying that same kind of peace.

“Thirty-four students of SMK Tinjar recently tested positive for drugs abuse,” revealed Penguang.

“It is not only in SMK Tinjar – drug abuse is rampant in other schools, both primary and secondary, and in longhouses too.

“I urge the relevant authorities and enforcement bodies to take action in stopping the drug abuse by getting to the root of the problem,” said Penguang.

As the state gravitates towards the digital economy, rural areas are still struggling with Internet connection – in some places, even phone connectivity is a problem.

“In my longhouse, I have to walk up a hill to get some signals to make phone calls,” said Penguang.

The termite-infested block at SK Sungai Bakas.

From Rumah Benang Paling, BAT7 made a stop at SK Sungai Bekas, Baking where a block of classrooms had been sealed off by the Public Works Department (JKR) due to severe termite infestation.

The Borneo Post on June 1 reported Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin as having said there are 1,454 schools in poor condition across the state with 1,020 considered dilapidated and 434 in urgent need of repair.

After a brief stop at Bakong where the Chinese community highlighted some issues, BAT7 reached Lapok.

Lapok means ‘old and unmarried’. However, Lapok is definitely ‘not the most eligible bachelor’ – it has no electricity and treated water supply.

Goh Siam Chen and his wife operate a grocery store among some 30 shops in town.

“We hope the government would connect this town to the electricity grid and supply treated water to the people. We also hope there will be police patrolling this area so we can sleep soundly.”

As BAT7 reached Long Lama where they would be putting up for the night, it was already dusk with shops closing for the day.

The dusty road, the ferries, people living in the 21st century with no piped water and electricity supply and dilapidated schools, and the continued hope of the people in the government to provide them with basic infrastructures are not issues city dwellers could have thought of, even in their wildest dreams.

Lapok town has no piped or treated water and no electricity supply.

The private road built by the plantation company is less-bumpy than the government road.

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