Belaga rep confident S’wak govt will engage with local community on building cascading dam in Sg Belaga

Datuk Liwan Lagang

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, Jan 17: Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Ligang is confident that the State government will engage with the people first in the constituency if there is a plan to build a cascading dam at Sungai Belaga, and that the Sarawak government would not bulldoze its way.

He added any information about the building of such a dam would not be just from the people’s representative as he believed it would have to come from the Resident of the Division, District Office, community leaders and the people.

“Don’t jump to a conclusion, and I am very confident if there is such a plan in the future, the Sarawak government will engage with the people of the area,” he told DayakDaily.

Liwan, was asked to comment on Ulu Rejang Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) chairman Senator Abun Sui Anyit’s statement yesterday (Jan 16) that no local community groups or individuals have claimed to have given consent to the Sarawak Government to build a cascading dam at Sungai Belaga.

The Belaga assemblyman elaborated that when the Sarawak government wanted to build the Bakun and Murum dams, the State had consulted and engaged with the people in the area.

Liwan, who also is the Deputy Minister of Utility and Telecommunication, pointed out that building a cascading dam is a relatively new idea for the State government, adding that he himself is not knowledgeable about building such a dam at Sungai Belaga, and that the Sarawak government has to look at the overall picture first.

“Never and so far, even when I was not in politics, the government would not do such a thing (build a cascading dam) without planning and engaging the people.

“To be fair to the Sarawak Premier, this river has the potential for cascading dams. It does not mean that when there is potential, the dam would be immediately built in Belaga.”

Last year, Sarawak Premier, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg mentioned the possibility of building cascading dams to enhance power generation capabilities, taking inspiration from successful models in Tasmania and Nordic countries and Europe.

Liwan advised the people of Belaga to be patient as the matter is not conclusive for now, and if the State government is to proceed, it will come up with a comprehensive plan to get their consensus and views on the matter.

Liwan said he respected Abun Sui highlighting the matter and thanked him for his concern for check-and-balance.

“I believe when the Sarawak government under Gabungan Parti Sarawak is doing anything good for the rakyat, she (Sarawak) will go see the rakyat.

“To be frank, we have never bulldozed through our way so far and this would go the same if we were to build the cascading dam,” said Liwan. — DayakDaily