By Karen Bong
KUCHING, May 12: With a land area measuring 19,403.2 sq km (26 times bigger than Singapore), a population of over 40,000 and huge potentialities as it hosts two mega hydroelectric dams in Bakun and Murum, Belaga definitely qualifies as a division as the district is one of, if not, the biggest district in Sarawak.
Murum assemblyman Kennedy Chukpai Ugon thus emphasised that it is high time for the Sarawak government to elevate Belaga into a division, a move that is also in line with the Rural Transformation Programme (RTP) which aims to open up and enhance accessibility in rural areas.
“I fully support the statement made by (Belaga assemblyman) YB Datuk Liwan Lagang to elevate Belaga district to a division.
“It is also in line with our request for Sg Asap/Apau Koyan to be turned into a full-fledged district and be included under the proposed Belaga division including that of Murum District,” he told DayakDaily when contacted today.
Chukpai pointed out that all documents to push for Sg Asap, which has been officially renamed as Apau Koya, to be elevated into a district, have also been submitted to the State government.
“We are waiting for a positive response on both matters,” he added.
Belaga, he emphasised, definitely deserved to be recognised as a division given its geographical size and resources especially with the Bakun and Murum dams which have helped to light up the whole of Sarawak, apart from its vast land size with so many plantations.
“Belaga District is very big or (could be the) biggest district in Sarawak. As such, in terms of geographical size and resources, we are there (qualified)… more to be a division.
“Our communities have sacrificed the ancestral land for the development of Sarawak and Malaysia in general by giving our land for (the development of) Bakun and Murum dams.
“It is time for the State government to recognise the contribution of the people by elevating Belaga into a division as well as Sg Asap/Apau Koyan into a district,” he stressed.
By elevating Belaga into a division, Chukpai pointed out that it will spur and bring more development into rural areas and more importantly, improve accessibility to services and opportunities for rural communities there.
“We want more government services to be readily available near people’s doorsteps to provide ease and convenience to the rural people. Currently, people from Belaga still need to go down to Kapit and even Bintulu to get government services,” he said when elaborating on the lack of development in the area populated by the Kenyah and Kayan ethnic groups.
Chukpai believes elevating Belaga into a division will also augur well in line with the Sarawak government’s vision and mission to close the development gap between urban and rural areas.
“We are really thankful to the State government to have plans for rural transformation and we hope the State government will approve our requests as we have waited for so long,” he added.
Meanwhile, Liwan who is also Assistant Minister of Utilities (Rural Electricity) was reported as saying that all paperwork on the matter has been done and submitted to the government for consideration while the Chief Minister’s Office has also directed the State Secretary’s Office to study and look into the request officially.
This statement came after Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sarawak demanded a response from the State government on the request.
If the information and reasons were inadequate, its Information Chief Abun Sui Anyit urged the government to have the political will to realise the aspirations of Belaga people such as has been done for Mukah Division.
Moreover, he also called for Long Busang and Sang Anau or resettlement areas or territories in Ulu Balui which were previously part of Belaga District to be returned if they have been included in the new Bukit Mabong District under Sarawak’s Seventh Division of Kapit. — DayakDaily