Sunday, August 25

Penans all for Murum Dam

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KUCHING: Negativities painted by some NGOs baseless because they have vested interest in the project.

It is the only committee which has the locus standi to look into any issue affecting the Murum Penans. – Henry Luhat, AKDC executive director

The majority of Penans in Murum is supportive of the Murum hydroelectric (HEP) dam project which is about 35 per cent completed at present, said Asap Koyan Development Committee (AKDC) executive director Henry Luhat yesterday.

The recent negativities painted by some NGOs, he said, were baseless because they had vested interest in the project

Henry said AKDC had set up a committee called Murum Penan Development Committee (MPDC) to look after the welfare of the Penans affected by the project. It is headed by an educated Penan community leader from Murum called Saran Ju.

“It is the only committee which has the locus standi to look into any issue affecting the Murum Penans,” Henry told The Borneo Post here yesterday. He explained that he had to raise the issue because many NGOs were trying to cohort with some Penans in Murum to go against the HEP project.

“MPDC has the backing of the majority of the Penans in Murum and they are all for the HEP project. However, there are some who are against the project, but their numbers are very small.”

AKDC, on the other hand, enjoyed the backing of Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang and Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Billy Abit Joo. Both are advisors of the committee. Also appointed as an advisor is Penan Penghulu Paho Tului.

On the Bakun Community Security Committee (BCSC), which is headed by his brother Dr Elli Luhat, Henry said it was not an NGO which look after the welfare of the people of Bakun as it was merely a “safety planning company”.

“The so-called BCSC has no committee as BCSC is just a business entity.”

Meanwhile, Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing, who also sits as an advisor in AKDC, as his wife is from Sg Asap Resettlement Scheme, insisted that the people, especially the press, should not give Elli anymore coverage as he does not represent the people of Sg Asap nor the Penans of Murum.

Masing added that Elli could not possibly assist the people of Bakun nor Murum as his so-called BCSC was solely run by himself.

“Furthermore, as he has no longhouse in Sg Asap, how could he claim that he wants to champion the people of Bakun?” asked Masing.

Murum Dam is 70km upriver from Bakun HEP dam, which has been churning out 300MW of power since August 6.

Murum HEP can generate a total of 944 MW. Work on the project started on Oct 1, 2008.

The impoundment of the dam is expected to be carried out by June 1 next year. The whole project is expected to be completed by end of 2013.