‘Lun Bawang grassroots leaders want new face’

Datuk Henry Sum Agong

KUCHING: Several Lun Bawang grassroots leaders in Lawas want the 72-year-old Lawas MP Datuk Henry Sum Agong to give way to a younger Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate in the coming general election.

Apart from the age factor, Sum had been their MP for 20 years and it was time for him to make way for another dynamic person with new ideas to develop Lawas, they said in a joint press statement yesterday.

“As he may be facing a stronger challenge from the opposition this time around, Sum needs to take a rest due to old age and health factor which has hindered him from making his round of visits in his constituency,” they said.

According to 54-year-old Laban Lakai from Long Luping, they need a visionary leader who can bring more development to the central and upper region of Lawas.

“We need a representative who can speak out. We need good roads and other basic facilities. Most places are still lacking in electricity and clean water supply,” he said, adding that Sum had even failed to win the hearts of voters in Ba Kelalan in the last state election.

“Even he himself as our MP in the 13th general election failed to garner majority vote from his own Lun Bawang community against Dr Bob Baru Langub from DAP,” he pointed out.

James Iyama Padan, 53, from Long Semadoh Rayeh admitted that Sum had done a good job as MP for the past 20 years but he said he wants to have a leader who is really committed, caring and visionary as well as able to bring more development and improve the economy of the people, especially those in the central and upper region of Ba Kelalan.

“We want to have a visionary leader who can think out of the box and is able to visualise the needs of the people. He must be good in IT to meet the aspiration of our Chief Minister with regards to the digital economy. Road is the main means of transportation for the upper region which has been neglected and it is really in a very deplorable condition and has become worse and impassable by ordinary vehicles. It’s just like a logging road and only passable by only selected 4×4 wheel drives,” he said.

He added that it was only when their grievances regarding the condition of the road were highlighted in the newspaper several times last year that the state government through the Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing assured that the road would be upgraded through Samling Timber.

“It is now under upgrading, but we are not assured that there would be regular and systematic maintenance. If this is not done, then the road condition will be back to square one!”

Spencer Berauk, 48, from Long Beluyu, Lawas opined that if a leader stays too long in office, the tendency of being comfortable and complacent is very high.

“We must make a change, it is like the saying ‘New broom sweeps well’. We want a leader who is committed, caring and able to visit his constituency often.

“With a new leader we hope that our needs will be brought up in the parliament,” Spencer said.

Lionel Labo, 36, from Long Sukang said they want their MP to make regular visits to the constituency to see the needs of the people and to listen to their problems.

Dennis Yahya Padan, 77, a community leader for central Long Semadoh, said the new MP should be able to serve the various ethnics groups in his constituency.

“The person must be fair and transparent in distributing minor rural projects (MRP) or agricultural projects like Skim Pawah to the people in the area,” he said, adding whoever is picked as candidate by the BN should not have a regional mentality which is not good for the whole constituency.

Sum, at press time, could not be reached for comment.







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