Ulu Teru allegation continues controversy

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BELURU: A group of 47 longhouse chiefs and councillors from the state constituency of Marudi are angered by the allegation that they were second class citizens and felt slighted by SPDP president and senior minister Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom’s demand that they explain their absence during his visit to Ulu Teru on Oct 24.

DISGRUNTLED: The group of 47 longhouse chiefs and community leaders showing their displeasure over the controversy created by Mawan’s visit to Ulu Teru on Oct 24.

The trip was marred by controversy which apparently continued to fester a week after Mawan’s big entourage had left the scene at Rumah Henry Chaling Gomes in Ulu Teru, in what appeared to be a spill-over from the leadership crisis besieging the party.

Tuai rumah (TR) Henry Chaling Gomes and two others initially expressed their reservations on Mawan’s visit.

Their views were later supported by a group of   30 longhouse chiefs from the area.

However, in a sudden twist of events, Gomes travelled to Miri to lodge a police report claiming that the trio were forced to sign a statement of protest, which was refuted by the other two signatories — councillor Kalang Ami and TR Abok Jabu.

The group of 47 longhouse chiefs and councillors were in Beluru yesterday for a meeting at SPDP Beluru branch office cum Marudi service centre, where they issued a strong protest against the mud-slinging.

Gomes was reported to have told Mawan how they were treated as ‘second class’ residents when it came to economic activities and distribution of government funds, to which Mawan replied that their predicament would be brought to the higher authorities in BN and that appropriate action through the party or relevant government authorities would be taken to redress the situation.

The longhouse chiefs from the constituency yesterday met to discuss the formation of farmers and smallholders association for Bakong and Tinjar region, and a ceremony to celebrate the conferment of ‘Datuk’ title on their state assemblyman Sylvester Entri Muran and Mawan’s recent visit to Ulu Teru.

TR Joshua Dungkong said the allegations of second class treatment and favouritism in the constituency were unheard of ever since Entri was their state assemblyman.

“It just doesn’t add up — he won with the biggest majority among SPDP candidates and we have never heard him treating anyone as second class residents,” he said.

He said the meeting yesterday also put on record their displeasure at Mawan’s statement that all the longhouse chiefs and community leaders who did not turn up must answer for their absence.

“We want to know to whom, where and what we should explain as demanded by Mawan. We cannot simply just head to a function which we are not sure of,” he said, stressing that they were accountable to their people.

Saying that winning Baram parliamentary constituency should be their top priority, Cr Kalang said no one in his right frame of mind should make such utterances as under Entri’s leadership projects had been implemented fairly according to needs and priority.

“We now have electricity, and water supply is coming and the oil palm joint-venture is already there, and Mawan should know as he used a longboat during his trip there some time ago and this time he came in on a four-wheel-drive vehicle,” he said.

SPDP Beluru branch chairman Steward Kayong echoed the view, saying resentment of locals against outsiders could become a disturbing issue in the coming election and might spell disaster for BN.

Meanwhile, Penan chief TR Piking Idoi of Long Meringan said unity should be of uppermost importance, and regretted the organisers for showing lack of courtesy in not extending proper invitations to them to attend the function.

“What were said at the function were wrong and insulting to ask us publicly, as in my case I was given a short notice and I already had something going on in my own longhouse,” he said.