Sg Asap community leaders add voices of dissent to moving the sub-district under Sebauh

(from left) Penghulu Saging Bit, Pemanca Umek Jeno and Pemanca Tony Kuleh

By Peter Sibon

KUCHING, Feb 16: Three community leaders from Sg Asap have strongly opposed the proposal to move the administration of Sg Asap sub-district under Sebauh district.

Penghulu Saging Bit, Pemanca Umek Jeno and Pemanca Tony Kulleh warned those responsible for the proposed move to be careful with the sentiment of the locals.

“I would like to warn the people who tries to break us up. I have this to say, please beware, the Orang Ulu in Sg Asap and Belaga are united against any efforts to break Sg Asap away from Belaga,” Saging told DayakDaily today.

He said that any efforts to break the Sg Asap sub-district away from Belaga should have been discussed with the local community.

Saging suggested that the authorities unite all the Orang Ulu in Belaga by upgrading Sg Asap as a full district.

Umek said that since the Orang Ulu has no division yet, he suggested the Sarawak government to upgrade Belaga, along with Sg Asap and Baram as a division for the Orang Ulu community.

“Since other ethnic groups have divisions created for them such as Serian, Kota Samarahan, Betong and Mukah. It is therefore high time that a division is created for the Orang Ulu. This way, they too would enjoy better infrastructure, education and other facilities,” he added.

He believed that the small population of the Orang Ulu in Belaga and Sg Asap, which is about 35,000, should not be an issue.

“When there is better infrastructure and job opportunities, it is natural that the people will be attracted to move. So, the many plans to develop Bakun HEP and Murum HEP into a major tourism, fishing and water sports centres mean that it would be able to attract the people to Sg Asap and Belaga,” said Umek.

He said it was time that those in authorities should seriously looked into the welfare of the Orang Ulu in Sarawak.

“We have sacrificed so much, in fact, we have given up our precious homeland to be submerged into Bakun HEP Dam. So, we hope the Sarawak government will listen to our appeal not to further breaking us apart but instead it must unite us,” he appealed.

Tony said they will definitely oppose such proposal and will stand firm with their elected leaders.

“What we want is for us to remain united under the Belaga district. Better still, upgrade Sg Adap sub-district into a full district and not further dividing us,” he added.

Tony, who is a Kenyah, also wanted four villages in Ulu Belaga, namely Sang Anau, Long Jawie, Long Busang and Long Unai, who are mostly Kenyahs, to be returned to the Belaga district.

“We are one people coming from the same roots. So, we want all these four villages to be returned back to Belaga district,” he continued.

Murum assemblyman Kennedy Chukpai Ugon (left) and Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang.

Yesterday, Murum and Belaga assemblymen, Kennedy Chukpai Ugon and Datuk Liwan Lagang, have strongly objected any proposal to move the administration of Sg Asap sub-district to be under Sebauh district.

According to Kennedy, his community leaders wanted Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to intervene and stop the proposal.

“Our community leaders will hand over a letter of objection to the chief minister when he visit Sg Asap on Feb 29, as the move is seen as not fulfilling the aspirations of our people.

“We strongly object against the proposal because not only were we were not consulted, it was also done not as we expected, as we preferred Sg Asap to be elevated into a full-fledged district,” he was reported as saying.

Currently, Sg Asap sub-district is under the administration of Belaga district.

The first-term Murum assemblyman pointed out that Sg Asap, which has been officially renamed as Apau Koyan, deserved to be recognised and further developed for its vast contribution in terms of power supply through Murum hydro-electric power (HEP) and Bakun HEP, to the entire state.

“Our people sacrificed so much. We deserved better deals from the state government by elevating Sg Asap as a district and Tubau as a sub-district. This is the kind of rural transformation programme that we are hoping for,” he reiterated.

He hoped that Tubau, which is currently under the Bintulu Development Authority (BDA), to be taken out and placed under the Sg Asap.

Kennedy said currently, Tubau does not enjoy efficient service provided by BDA, such as rubbish collection, no street lighting and lacking amenities.

“It is about time that Tubau be made a sub-district under the district of Sg Asap,” he continued.

Liwan, who is also Assistant Minister of Utilities (Rural Electricity Supplies), urged the Sarawak government to elevate Belaga district as a division, as recognition of the area’s vast contribution.

“We have submerged our precious land to provide power for the whole of Sarawak. So, we deserve to be recognised and one way to do that is by elevating Belaga, together with Sg Asap into a division, especially for the Orang Ulu community,” he said.

Liwan added that since Belaga district, which include Sg Asap sub-district, is one of the biggest districts in Sarawak, deserved to be developed like any other areas.

The assistant minister has voiced his objection on Sg Asap be placed under Sebauh district to the State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion.

“If we allow such move, both Belaga and Murum constituencies will be in danger of falling to the opposition,” warned Liwan. — DayakDaily