Saratok MP to head committee looking after welfare of longhouse folks in Sarawak

Zuraida Kamaruddin - file pic

KUCHING, July 29: The federal Ministry of Housing and Local Government will set up a committee to look into the housing and welfare of the longhouse folks in the state.

Its minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said the committee would be headed by Saratok MP Ali Biju, and will consist of representatives from various longhouse, Tuai Rumah, Penghulu and Dayak community leaders.

“We are looking at about half of the population in Sarawak who live in longhouses. Therefore it’s high time my ministry looks into developing a policy for these longhouses because after 60 years of independence I think these longhouses have to be upgraded, to be assisted to improve the quality of life of the longhouse folks, and their lifestyle.

“With that I would like to form a committee which would be headed by Ali Biju to lead this committee and cooperate with the community leaders, MPs and assemblymen to propose to the ministry as to how and what sort of policy would be suitable for the longhouses,” she told reporters at the Kuching International Airport this morning.

The committee would also help her ministry to better understand some cultural aspects of the Dayak longhouses because the Dayak community would have certain aspects in their culture to be incorporated into the construction of their longhouses, Zuraida explained.

“We would want their advice as to how we should move forward improving the lives of the people in longhouses so that they can also keep abreast with the country’s progress. We don’t want to leave them behind. They should be part of development, and it’s high time that we look into their progress,” she said.

Zuraida also urged the state government to work with the committee in gazetting the lands for the longhouses so that it would be easier for her ministry to channel aid and development programmes to the longhouses.

Meanwhile, Zuraida also announced the approval of RM7.5 million for three development projects in the state.

The first project is the setting up of street lights along Padawan Road between Kota Padawan to Kampung Annah Rais costing RM3 million.

She said according to Puncak Borneo MP Willie Mongin, that road has never been equipped with street lighting, and this posed a danger to road users at night.

The second development project would be for the upgrading of the drainage system involving Bau Town to be implemented by the Bau District Council.

“I am to understand that the drainage system in Bau Town is not proper. Whenever there is heavy rain there will always be flash floods there.

“So the drainage system would be upgraded for RM3 million,” she said.

The third development project would be to build a RM500,000 bridge spanning 30m between Kampung Godam and Mas Gading, to ease the commuting between the two places, as currently the existing bridge is in a dilapidated state, said Zuraida.

Another proposed project that she would be approving soon is upgrading work to a bridge in Kampung Pinang Jawa in Petra Jaya.

“The people there also felt they have to build one ‘kampung’ bridge in Kampung Pinang Jawa. At the moment the current bridge is very old and dilapidated. It has to be upgraded before any accidents happened, with the cost of about RM1 million,” said Zuraida. — DayakDaily