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Malaysia:What about us, say Sabah state Papar dam residents

FMT Reporters FREE MALAYSIA TODAY n, July 5, 2020

A protest and prayer service held last year at the proposed site for the Papar dam project.

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah state government was urged today to give equal treatment to indigenous communities in the wake of a settlement with smallholders in the Bagahak plantation.

The Sabah anti-dam group, Taskforce Against Papar Dam (Takad), lamented the preferential treatment given to Bagahak smallholders, but not to natives who face the possibility of losing their ancestral land to the planned Papar dam.

Takad spokesperson Diana Sipail said Chief Minister Shafie Apdal’s decision to grant 6,800 ha of land to over 1,000 Bagahak smallholders showed that he could intervene in native customary right cases that are still under court process.

Shafie should also do the same for the Dusun Tagahas community in Ulu Papar, who may lose their homes and lands.

“Why should we, the Dusun Tagahas who had our homes from Penampang until downstream Papar in the Ulu Papar region, continue to be sidelined as if we are not real Sabahans?,” said Sipail.

“The Dusun Bagahak community in Lahad Datu were granted the land after a 12-year struggle. “Why can’t the chief minister do the same for us here in Papar and Penampang,” she said today.

Takad leader Diana Sipail

Earlier, a spokesperson representing some 10,000 people from 54 villages in Pitas also called on Shafie to resolve their land dispute with Safoda, a statutory body under the Chief Minister’s Department.

Yesterday Shafie ended a 12-year wait for 1,680 Bagahak residents on a 6,800ha parcel of land in Lahad Datu where they settled since the 1970s.

The Papar hydro-electric dam was proposed by the previous Barisan Nasional government. The new Warisan-led state government that took office in 2018 decided to proceed with the project, but shifted the site from the Penampang side of Ulu Papar to the Papar side.

Sabah Infrastructure Development Minister Peter Anthony later said the dam would be located near Mondoringin in Papar.

Sipail said there had been no consultation or open research nor a dialogue with the local communities. Our proposal and memorandum was also denied and pushed aside,” she said.

“We urge the chief minister to be fair and to not discriminate against the people of Ulu Papar who have been fighting against the dam project for more than 10 years,” she said, urging him to stop the dam project.


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