INFRASTRUCTURE Development Minister Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan urged villagers affected by the proposed Kaiduan Dam to register their doubts with the Special Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) instead of condemning it.
“The proposal hasn’t even gone off the ground and the people are already protesting… this is an issue that we can discuss and talk about,” said Pairin at the State Legislative Assembly sitting yesterday.
He said there were differences in the findings of the survey presented to his ministry and that presented by Moyog assemblyman Terence Siambun but this was not such a huge issue as long as all the differences were placed on the table and discussed properly.
“The cabinet wants a special EIA on the impact of the proposed project on the people. This is not bad. And the affected folk should give their input on their doubts instead of criticizing it. They should share what they know. We want to know,” urged Pairin.
He also said the special EIA was crucial for the government prior to making its decision.
Pairin said the government was attentive to the needs of all the affected villagers and stressed that if the project went through, resettlement and basic amenities, as well as housing and land would be provided.
“But we are aware that the project is being politicized. We can accept that. However, what is not understood is the good intention of the government. I am sad that the Hansard mentioned that I do not care about the KDM (Kadazandusun Murut) people,” he said.
He said it was imperative to look into the supply of water issue for the future.
“If we concentrate on the water supply shortage issue, we are helping all, including the KDM people… we understand about the human rights issue raised. Yet whatever we do, it is for the greater good of all, not just the KDM. We are also the protectors of the KDM as well as others,” he stressed on the role of the government.
He said irrespective of whether one agreed with the project or not, it was imperative that they allowed the investigation to take place.
“It is like going to the doctor. Let the doctor check us thoroughly because if we don’t, the investigation will not be complete.”
The main aim is to quench the need to provide water, he said.
“The UN (United Nations) has mentioned that the future problem is poverty and water shortage… we need to take into account all these and prepare for the future. We have to look at the technical aspect. The population in Penampang is also expected to grow,” he said.
He reminded that if the Babagon Dam was not constructed years ago, despite the many objections from the people, water shortage would be acutely felt during the dry season.
“It has helped reduce the impact of flooding and also the dry season,” he said.
He stressed that the issue of water supply must be taken seriously and mentioned that it was not a political issue.
“It is what we think is required by society in the future … the climate condition is becoming erratic and we need to take the necessary action to ensure our water is enough,” he said.
Meanwhile, the villages that will be affected should the project be implemented are Kampung Tiku, Timpayasa and Kampung Babagon Laut. Kampung Buayan and Kampung Terian will not be involved in the proposal.