Group protesting against cascading dam in Sungai Tutoh does not represent local folk, says community leaders

A file photo taken during a dialogue session on Tutoh-Apoh Totally Protected Area (TPA) conducted by the Land and Survey Department at Long Terawan.

KUCHING, Jan 30: Sungai Tutoh community leaders have clarified that a purported protest against the construction of a cascading dam in the area is organised by a small group that does not represent the Long Terawan and Kampung Malinau residents.

According to a joint press release issued by Tutoh Penghulu Benedict Wak, Long Terawan village chief Abia Laing, Kampung Malinau village chief Joseph Ugum, former Long Terawan village chief Edmund Abang and former Marudi District councillor Gary Hashim Wan, they together with other village chiefs in Tutoh area fully support the Sarawak government and Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg’s proposal to build the infrastructure.

“We believe that the cascading dam will expedite the development in Tutoh area and open up many socio-economic opportunities to increase the standard of living of the local folk.

“The State government always plan and want the best for its people including us in Tutoh area. Therefore, we request that the Premier and the State government to proceed with the proposed construction of a cascading dam here,” they said in a statement today.

They further noted that the protest came from from a group led by Dennis Along where they associated the construction of the cascading dam to be similar to hydro dams in Bakun, Murum and Batang Ai.

“Their point is totally baseless because the construction of a cascading dam does not require inundating large areas of land like the hydro dams and thus, it will not force the local folks to relocate to new settlements or affect native customary right (NCR) lands and environment,” they added.

They were responding to Dennis Along’s group who allegedly uploaded a series of videos on social media recently, claiming that the local people do not agree to the State government’s plans including the proposed construction of a cascading dam in Sungai Tutoh.

They also pointed out that Dennis Along and his followers’ stance belong to their own and that they do not even reside or attend any meetings and activities held at Long Terawan and Kampung Malinau.

“Their protest is suppressing the people’s right to receive progress and development from the government. These people have never brought any progress and development to our village and longhouse. They are just busy criticising and protesting to attract attention and publicity to themselves,” they emphasised. – DayakDaily