Dudong rep says declined overseas study missions to save taxpayers’ money, calls for aggressive measures to resolve Sibu’s flooding

Tiong fielding questions from members of the press at DUN Complex on Nov 29, 2023.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Dec 29: Dudong assemblyman Dato Sri Tiong King Sing declined invitations to join the Sarawak delegation on a study mission to Denmark and Netherlands so as to not waste taxpayer’s money with unnecessary expenses as he already has the experience and technical knowledge in river dredging and flood mitigation projects.

Tiong’s response came in light of Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Dr Sim Kui Hian’s comments, linking Tiong’s absence from key events to a perceived lack of awareness regarding the Sarawak government’s flood mitigation efforts in Sibu.

“Yes, he (Dr Sim) invited me and I am thankful. However, I personally feel that it is not necessary for me to go because I was a dredging contractor previously with our projects in river dredging and flood mitigation in Peninsular Malaysia including Subang (and) had been acknowledged for best design.

“So I have the technical knowledge. I just don’t want to incur extra expenses as it is taxpayers’ money which should be saved for more pressing needs and better causes. This is not to say I’m the best but we can always discuss and exchange ideas and technical knowledge to come out with best solutions,” he told reporters when met at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) complex here today.

Tiong, who is also Federal Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, disclosed that he had met with Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) Sarawak earlier today whereby the department has denied ever mentioning that the Rajang and Igan rivers need not be dredged.

Two years ago, he had raised the need to dredge the riverbeds, apart from upgrading small drains to wider reinforced concrete drains, to rid the entire Sibu, especially Dudong area, of flash floods in the long-term.

Addressing the long-standing issue, he highlighted the lack of available data for a comprehensive survey of the rivers and the necessity to determine their depth and width for effective flood mitigation design.

“Until today, we have not gotten the final survey of these rivers. So, we do not have the data to come out with the flood mitigation design.

“First of all, we need to know the depth of the river, for which the record is not available at the moment. We need to know how deep and wide we need to dredge. If we don’t dredge the Rajang and Igan, then there is no point to do ponding and all that,” he explained.

Challenging Dr Sim to go down to the ground and engage hands-on in resolving the issue, Tiong called for a proper study to resolve flooding problems in Sibu, particularly Dudong area.

He stressed the importance of such efforts for the people’s benefit, considering the significant losses incurred due to frequent flooding in the past years.

“I have stayed near Rajang River in the past but it was never flooded. It is only after more and more development activities that flooding became a serious issue.

“How would he (Dr Sim) feel if he stays in the area. He must realise that even government assistance of RM1,000 or even RM10,000 will not help relieve the burden on the people if they have to face the risk of floods many times a year. People’s losses will be much more than that,” he stressed.

Noting the lack of funding to undertake a comprehensive survey for the whole division or district, Tiong said the ministry should discuss the matter with Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg to find appropriate measures to address the issue.

“They must be aggressive in getting the whole project of Igan and Rajang rivers surveyed, designed and dredged to resolve the problem,” he added. — DayakDaily