KOTA KINABALU: Warisan deputy president Darell Leiking is upset at the prospect of the Papar Dam project being moved back to Penampang .
Leiking, who is Penampang MP and the assemblyman for Moyog, a state constituency within Penampang, said his party and the affected stakeholders fought tooth and nail to stop the dam from being constructed there previously.
“Our position since 2013 until now has always been that there cannot be two dams in Penampang because we’re already serving part of Sabah using the Babagon Dam,” he told FMT.
“Now, another dam built in Penampang, in this case in Moyog too, will overburden our aesthetics as well as our environment. We will become the ‘dam central’ and the new dam will leave a huge footprint (on the area).”
He called for Deputy Chief Minister Bung Moktar Radin to reconsider any plans to move the dam to Penampang.
“There was a reason why the previous Warisan government decided not to build the dam in Penampang and instead moved it to the neighbouring Papar district,” Leiking said.
Bung, who is also state infrastructure development minister, earlier today said the government is mulling over the possibility of moving the Papar Dam back to its original location in Penampang.
“We might move the dam back to Penampang because I was informed if we did it in Papar, the dam could only provide water for up to 60 years, whereas in Penampang, it would be 85 years.
“So, we have several more years before we have to look for another water source. That’s why I said we need to move to the Kaiduan area (in Penampang).
“Water shortage is a problem throughout Sabah. We need to be brave, if we’re not, then the people will suffer,” Bung said.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) government had initiated the project, initially known as Kaiduan Dam, and earmarked Kaiduan in Penampang as the location but the Warisan-led government moved it to Papar.
Leiking was unconvinced with the reasoning given by Bung for the project to be shifted back to Penampang.
“I don’t think that is a fair reason because the people in that area have been rejecting the dam.
“The state government must explain to those people on the rationale behind the move and also conduct a survey on whether the people still want the dam,” he said.
Leiking pointed out that his position was clear over the dam issue, adding his and Warisan’s critics were too quick to discredit and ignore their stand over the dam issue.
“My position all this while is not against a dam per se but only against two dams in one constituency. Many criticised us over moving the dam to Papar but this was our stance.
“I agree we need to find a water source but there must have been a good reason why the previous government decided to have it in Mandalipau, Papar after listening to the people.
“When we were in the opposition, we even mentioned to (former deputy chief minister) Joseph Pairin Kitingan in a dialogue for the government to build the dam in his Tambunan constituency. This is consistent with our stand of no two dams in one area.”
Meanwhile, Warisan treasurer-general Terrence Siambun warned that they are ready to take on the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) government should the project be brought back to Penampang.
“We will not allow anymore expropriation of land mass in Moyog, more so when it is a prime green lung.
“And if the GRS-led state government is still adamant to proceed with the proposal, then Warisan together with its allies will do everything it can to stop it,” he said.
Siambun, who was the Moyog assemblyman from 2013 to 2018, headed the Anti-Kaiduan Movement known as Project Bantah that collected several thousand signatures in a petition against the dam project then.