BTF requests Sarawak Energy allocate RM2 mln annually to Bakun, Murum communities

Masing (third right) chairing a BTF committee meeting at Bakun Lake recently.

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Nov 3: The Bakun Trust Fund (BTF) has requested Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) for an annual allocation of RM2 million for the communities affected by the implementation of the Bakun and Murum hydroelectric power (HEP) dams.

BTF chairman Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing asserted such financial assistance is crucial to assist the community especially in educating their youth.

“Bakun and Murum and later Baleh HEP are gamechangers for people in Belaga and Bukit Mabong districts not only in terms of social and demographic changes, which have taken place, but these HEPs must be the source of funds to educate the younger generation to embrace the 21st century.

“This is where SEB must play a very critical role in educating their young. BTF has requested for annual contribution of RM2million from SEB for this purpose.

“It’s my hope that our request of RM2 million will be kindly considered, bearing in mind that about 60 per cent of power generated in Sarawak is via HEP,” Masing disclosed to DayakDaily today.

Masing (third right) giving his thumbs-up after chairing a BTF committee meeting at Bakun Lake recently. Also seen are Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang (first left), Murum assemblyman Kennedy Chukpai Ugon (third left) Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong (second right) and Belaga district officer Juan Bit (right).

Masing, who is also the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president and Deputy Chief Minister revealed the RM2 million allocation requested by BTF from SEB was insignificant compared to SEB’s income from the Bakun and Murum HEPs.

“A fixed annual sum of RM2 million is small compares to what SEB earns from Bakun, Murum and later Baleh HEPs. We must be people-centric in our development approach and not only business biases,” Masing opined.

The Baleh lawmaker reiterated that since HEPs in Sarawak are located in rural areas, it was only right that the affected communities must be assisted accordingly.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, all of the HEPs are located in rural areas which directly affects certain communities only. (So), we must be considerate to their demands and don’t treat their demands as a nuisance in developing Sarawak,” he added.

Masing who is also the Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development reiterated that he was committed to development taking place in Sarawak.

“I’m all in for development, but we must consider the social and economic impacts on the people affected by these projects. (So), we must make sure those changes are for the better,” he added.

He also hoped that the various agencies involved in these projects would recognise the sacrifices made by the affected communities in order for the projects to be implemented.

“Therefore, please be considerate to their requests,” he urged.

Masing highlighted that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has been supportive of BTF and its requests.

“CM Abang Jo has been most sympathetic to our requests. For that BTF is most grateful,” added Masing. — DayakDaily