KUCHING: The Bidayuhs, especially those in Upper Padawan, deserve some appreciation for making the sacrifice to allow the construction of Bengoh dam.
Former president of Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) Dato Peter Minos said the dam could be considered the community’s biggest contribution because it would supply fresh water to Kuching City and the surrounding areas.
“While fresh water is badly needed for now and the future due to increased usage and population, the Bidayuhs at Upper Padawan — Rejoi, Taba Sait, Pain Bojong and Semban — had made a sacrifice considering that they had lived in their areas for generations.
“Leaving your villages is not easy for sentimental and many other reasons. That they made the sacrifice, they must be appreciated and the state government had done that by giving free housing, some cash compensation and some land for cultivation.
“I saw the Bengoh Resettlement Scheme or BRS, and it is definitely the best and most modern Bidayuh new village with all the utilities, facilities and road. We are happy for those who agreed to resettle at BRC,” he said.
The project costing over RM310 million was halted due to resettlement issues but now since most of the affected villagers from the Bidayuh settlements upriver; namely Rejoi, Taba Sait, Pain Bojong and Semban had agreed to move down, except for 49 families, it had resumed.
Based on press reports, the remaining works of the project are expected to complete by October 31 next year to allow impoundment to begin.
Those who refused to move to BRS had chosen to build their houses above the dam. Despite turning down the offer of free housing and compensation under the resettlement scheme, the option for them to move down was still open.
Minos said the Bengoh dam is a classic case where both the people and government had agreed to sacrifice something for the good of society at large.
He cited Three Gorges Dam in China, Kai Tek Airport in Hong Kong and Aswan Dam of Egypt as examples of successes where big sacrifices were made by the people for themselves, the country and future generations
“There were initial problems and misunderstandings, but because of the right attitude and right approaches on all sides, things ended in satisfaction.
“As a Bidayuh, it is with pride to say that the community had given way something for the good of Sarawak and that the government had responded with understanding,” he said.
Meanwhile, commenting on Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s speech at the Bidayuh Symposiym at DBNA headquarters last Saturday, Minos said he concurred with Adenan that minority ethnic groups including Bidayuhs must always unite and stand together despite political differences.
“YAB Adenan is right in saying that, if the big groups are fair and reasonable, the small ones must reciprocate by being reasonable. And this ought to be the way for an economically struggling group like Bidayuhs. That basic direction, if fully adopted, assures survival and a good future,’ he said.