Bintulu resident threatens MP over crops planted on state land

Tiong (left) listening to the lamentations and commotion of the woman (right) with officers from the DID.

Note of editor:  The story has been updated to include a video.

By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, June 21: A resident in Bintulu had allegedly behaved in a threatening manner after Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing went to her house to talk to her over the crops she planted on state land.

According to Tiong, he and a few officers from the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) had gone to the woman’s house at Kampung Pisang in Kidurong recently to talk to her about removing the crops she planted on state land for the construction of a concrete structure to solve flood problems.

However, the woman did not seem pleased with their arrival and allegedly took a cleaver to threaten Tiong and the DID officers.

Tiong in a statement revealed: “In order to solve flood problems caused by rain which has caused inconveniences to residents all year round, the state government had decided to expand a ditch at one end of Kampung Pisang in Kidurong.

“But, a resident had occupied the DID‘s reserved land leading to the site of the ditch expansion to grow some crops, blocking the path of heavy vehicles needed to be used for the project.

“Not only was the resident demanding unreasonable compensation, but threatened with a cleaver and cursed at officials who visited her to discuss the situation.”

Tiong asserted that the woman was unhappy with the state government’s plan to build a six-metre wide steel reinforced concrete ditch, which would result in the crops cultivated on the idle adjacent land being destroyed.

Tiong stressed that the location of the drainage ditch as planned belonged to the state government but only a part of the vacant land has been used for years by local residents to plant crops.

He disclosed that the authorities had proposed to give reasonable compensation to the affected residents for the loss of their crops in order to free the land to complete the relevant projects to mitigate future flood problems.

He added that residents in Kampung Pisang have repeatedly complained about the flood problems and following on-site inspections, it was concluded that the housing area had insufficient drainage ditches to expel water during rain.

Therefore, the DID which is responsible for the construction, began trenching works after coordination with the residents.

Tiong revealed that the affected residents had agreed to yield the land they had cultivated to allow the works to be carried out in exchange for reasonable compensation for the loss of their crops.

However, he claimed the woman was the only resident in that area who had refused to cooperate with the plan to exchange the crops which she planted on the state government’s land for a reasonable compensation.

Tiong added that the DID and the district office have repeatedly negotiated with her but to no avail, and subsequently, he was asked to intervene and negotiate with the resident.

“Going to the house of the resident, I had called from the gate for a long time without any response from the house.

“After some time, the woman suddenly burst out of the house with a cleaver in hand and loudly reprimanded our group outside.

“As I began to speak to her about the land matter, the woman started the conversation in an aggressive manner, waving the cleaver in the air.

“Any words to persuade her into a calmer talk did not work.

“With the atmosphere getting more tense, I inadvertently raised my voice at the woman, and I do apologise for resorting to this.

“I wish to stress that the purpose of implementing the project is for the welfare of the people, which some may not have considered for the sake of their own interests.

“Overall, I am left disappointed by the whole episode,” he added.

Tiong added that a police report had been lodged against the woman while the woman’s husband and son had also arrived at the scene to prevent the situation from escalating out of control.

He revealed that the woman’s husband had managed to calm the situation and apologised for the inconvenience caused while giving assurances that the drainage construction would be carried out. — DayakDaily