Involve Sg Asap resettlers when developing Bakun lake, government told

Pemanca Tony Kulleh

KUCHING, Oct 3: Balui Lake Native Association (BLNA) chairman Pemanca Tony Kulleh hopes the state government will engage all stakeholders, especially the resettlers at Sg Asap, when transforming the massive Bakun lake into a major tourism and aquaculture hubs.

“As the chairman of BLNA, I hope the government will engage with us in order to develop Bakun lake to benefit our people. I don’t want to see any kind of plan for Bakun lake being made without consulting us, because that will make us mere bystanders.

“As the main stakeholders, we want to be actively involved in any project in Bakun lake, especially if it involves joint ventures. This way, all of us who are affected by the development of the Bakun HEP and now resettled at Sg Asap will benefit,” Tony told DayakDaily today.

File photo of the wet market in Bakun Lake.
Traders showing off empurau fish sold at the Bakun wet market.

Tony believed the lake has big ecotourism and aquaculture potential.

“There is a need for us to develop the lake holistically. This is where we need to have proper planning, where all the stakeholders must be involved,” he stressed.

On a related issue, Tony disclosed that he had met Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas to get aquaculture activities in Bakun lake going.

Tony (left) and BLNA members in a group photo with Uggah (fourth from left) at the latter’s office in Kuching recently.

“During the courtesy call on the deputy chief minister (Uggah), BLNA was given the licence as anchor company for aquaculture (caged fish rearing) in Bakun or Balui Lake. We would also like to thank Sarawak Energy Berhad for granting us the permission to use the site at Sungai Bulo for caged fish rearing,” he said.

Accompanying Tony during the courtesy call on Uggah were BLNA boards members, Sinaran Bakun Berhad personnel and Majlis Maren-Maren Uma members.

Tony said these when commenting on a news report that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and his delegation are currently in Canada to learn innovative ways to transform the state’s man-made lakes into other economic assets.

Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang had told DayakDaily recently that there was an urgent need to implement a long-term master plan to develop man-made lakes created by hydroelectricity power (HEP) dams in order to provide better livelihood to those affected by those mega projects.

Specifically, he stressed that the massive Bakun lake, which is bigger than the whole island of Singapore, should be developed by harnessing its potential, such as ecotourism, aquaculture and cottage industries based on culture, adventure and nature (CAN).

“After 20 years, the people affected by the Bakun HEP has not benefitted directly from the lake. I believe that it’s about time for the relevant authorities to make proper studies and come up with a master plan not only for Bakun but also for other man-made lakes, such as Murum, Batang Air and Bengoh,” Liwan had told DayakDaily here recently.

He also appealed to those in charge of the aquaculture sector to conduct a thorough feasibility study of Bakun Lake to identify suitable fish species that could be reared there.

An aerial view of the Bakun HEP Dam.

Liwan, who is also Assistant Minister of Water Supply, opined that the lead agency to develop Bakun should be Ulu Rajang Development Agency (URDA)

“As a lead agency, URDA must lead in the planning and implementation of any project in Bakun lake as there are other stakeholders involved, such as Sarawak Energy and Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB),” he said. — DayakDaily