Batu Kawah folk stage protest against telco tower construction

A group of residents have gathered at the site of the telco tower project in the compound of Stapok Badminton Court to protest against the construction.

Editor’s note: Updated with SMA’s response.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 30: Residents of Lorong Stapok Utara in Batu Kawah here are demanding that the authorities scrap the telco tower project within the compound of Stapok Badminton Court.

Resident Wong Liong Hing, who has lived in the area for over 20 years, said more than 200 signatures had been collected to petition against the construction of the telco tower, and this was being done for the second time.

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“We have protested and stopped the project in this place in 2015. But after four years, the plan to construct the telco tower comes back again,” he told a press conference after joining a group of residents to protest against the project at Stapok Badminton Court, here, today.

Wong, accompanied by Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong, visited Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) yesterday (May 29) to file a complaint about the project, and SMA officials promised to look into it.

“We don’t need this tower. There is no network connection issue or bad mobile reception here. There are already at least two other telco towers within the vicinity, so I don’t understand why the need for another tower,” he said.

Residents Wong (second from left) and Ai Fen (second from right) with Chiew (right) holding the signed petition to protest against the telco tower project in Stapok Badminton Hall while two others hold up caricatures to express their objection.

The reasons for their protest are mainly due to perceived negative effects on health, aesthetic and property values.

“This is not a kampung (village), you know. This is the town centre, so why do you need so many towers when it is not necessary? Some more it is too near to houses and in a badminton court that is a place meant for people to keep fit and healthy,” he added.

Wong stressed that residents willingly came together to protest despite today being a working day.

“I don’t care who is coming forward to help us, whether they are from SUPP or DAP, all we want is for this project to stop at this instant,” he emphasised.

Wong claimed he had contacted Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, who is also Batu Kawah assemblyman, for help.

Meanwhile, special assistant to Chong Chieng Jen (Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs), Christina Chiew, urged the authorities, including SMA, to look into this matter seriously and stop the project immediately.

“If there is a need to build more towers to enhance the capacity of network coverage, they should find a more suitable location but further away from residential areas.

“We are not against the building of more towers for better coverage, but the providers need to be more considerate in their planning and should consult and hear the voices of the residents before initiating their plan,” she said.

Tan conveying a message from Dr Sim, assuring residents that he (Dr Sim) will try to stop the project.

Political secretary to the Chief Minister, Tan Kai, who was also there representing Dr Sim, emphasised that the wishes of the residents were loud and clear.

“Dr Sim is aware of this issue and will help to stop this project,” he assured.

Meanwhile, SMA today issued a formal letter to the contractor of the telco tower project to cease all activities on the site in order to allow the authority to address the issue properly.

In the letter, SMA acknowledged it has received a complaint from the representative of the surrounding residents, voicing their dissatisfaction and concerns regarding the construction of the telco tower. — DayakDaily