Tuesday, May 24

Government all out to improve rural communities — Rep

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GOING TO THE GROUND: Ngau inspects the micro-hydro dam at Long Anyat.

MIRI: The government is always doing its best to bring development and basic necessities to rural and remote areas in the state.

Pointing out that this is an ongoing effort, Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau said: “It is baseless for people, especially the opposition, to say that the government has failed to help the community in rural and remote areas such as Baram for the last 50 years.”

In their ‘Impian Sarawak’ campaign, Democratic Action Party (DAP) claimed that the government had failed to provide necessities such as piped water, electricity and roads to improve and elevate the quality of life of the rural population.

Questioning the sincerity of the opposition, Ngau asked: “Have they ever been there and see with their own eyes the changes brought by the government? Talking about Telang Usan or Baram in general … it is now much better than 50 years ago.”

“They seem to forget that Baram is almost as big as Pahang with a mountainous and rugged geography and scattered kampongs. I must admit that the condition has been the shroud that covers development or changes taking place there,” he added.

He said logically it would be impossible and costly for the government to extend the electricity grid from Miri or Marudi to light up the whole of Baram.

But as an alternative, he said the government spent millions of ringgit to build micro-hydro dams such as in Long San, Long Bangak and Lio Mato and the solar systems in Long Bruang and Long Lellang soon.

“In fact a number of villages and longhouses near Long Lama are now getting 24-hour electricity by pulling the Sarawak Energy grid line from Long Lama under rural electrification scheme (RES). The scheme is going to be extended to villages near the power grid,” he added.

As for piped water supply, Ngau said it would cost too much for the government to connect the villages with sources from Miri and Marudi due to the hilly and rugged terrain.

“The government is not blind and deaf to see and hear the people’s difficulties. Instead of supplying water directly from Laku (Northern Region Water Authority), the government provides some villages with gravity feed system and water tanks,” he elaborated.

“Millions of ringgit have been spent by the government to provide these basic necessities, including schools and clinics,” he added.

The assemblyman assured the people that development would definitely come their way, but would take time to be implemented.

Apart from the government, he said private companies operating in the area also contributed through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes.

Ngau also attributed the political history of Baram which had always seen a tussle between Barisan Nasional (BN), independents and opposition parties to its backwardness.

He said development almost came to a halt there when the constituency was held by an independent.