Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rajang logjam: PRS slams 'unconcerned' Dayak leaders

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By Joseph Tawie
KUCHING: A Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) leader has slammed Dayak leaders for their lack of concern for the victims of the Rajang logjam “ecological disaster” resulting from the landslides in the upper reaches of the Rajang and Baleh rivers.
Party deputy information chief Tedewin Ngumband said other than causing the death of tonnes of fish, two persons had reportedly died in the landslides and thousands of Ibans had lost their sources of income.

Yet none of the state's top Dayak leaders showed concern.

“So far only James Masing seems to be concerned with the ecological disaster that has caught the attention of people worldwide.

“It is not because he is the state assemblyman for Baleh, but because the logjam and debris have caused so much hardship to the people who depend on the rivers for their communication and as sources of income.

“But where are our other Dayak leaders such as Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu, Federal Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Douglas Uggah Embas, Minister of Infrastructure Development Michael Manyin and Minister of Social Development and Urbanisation William Mawan Ikom?” Tedewin asked.

He said Jabu, being the senior Dayak minister, should have been the first to visit the victims. He is not only a Dayak leader for Betong but for the whole of Sarawak.

“So is Uggah Embas, who is the minister of natural resources and environment. It is his job not only to assess the extent of damage, but also to see to the victims and their welfare.

“It would appear to me that they are playing safe or simply looking after their own interests.

"I thought ‘people first’ is the Barisan Nasional battle cry. Has it been washed away by the logjam?” asked Tedewin, pointing out that the issue of logging activities is very “sensitive” as a number of prominent people are involoved.

He said Masing, who is the land development minister, had been very vocal against uncontrolled logging activities at the upper reaches of Rajang and Baleh rivers and had called on the authorities to take stern action against these errant companies.

PRS is a component member of the Barisan Nasional of which Masing is the president.

State government's policy questioned

Tedewin also questioned the state government’s policy on forest management and approach.

He said the state government had always propagated that it practised the most holistic approach to logging activities and maintains the best international standard and practices in our forest management.

“We have been telling the people and the world that we maintain sustainability and reforestation and respect our jungles and all its inhabitants.

“We (keep telling the people that we) have a systematic, environmental friendly, responsible and sustainable methodology in our due care of our forests and rivers in order to safeguard our flora and fauna.

“But these pictures of logs and debris that we see along the Rajang River tell the real stories. What you and I see in front or our own eyes is a disaster of immense proportions,” said Tedewin.

The logs and debris spreading over 250 kilometre of Rajang River since last Friday had damaged a number of bridges worth RM2.7 million and the loss of income and the problems the logjam created are yet to be estimated.

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