DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL: Abu Bakar (second left) reads out to Taib the proposals by the Orang Ulu community. Also seen are Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang (left) and Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, who is also Baram MP, Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan (right). — Photo by Chimon Upon
KUCHING: The Orang Ulu community in Baram supports the proposed Baram hydroelectric dam project, but they want to be consulted as this project directly affects their lives.
Orang Ulu National Association (Ouna) president Datuk Abu Bakar Abdullah said his people never objected to the project per se as they knew it would benefit Baram in the long run.
“We want the state government to proceed with the construction of this hydroelectric dam project because it will bring development to us,” he told The Borneo Post at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) here yesterday.
He had earlier led 150 Orang Ulus from throughout the state, including 30 community leaders, to pay a courtesy call on Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at the august House.
“If the project is shelved, our people will continue to face problems in terms of roads and electricity.”
Abu Bakar said he believed that a Baram complete with all basic infrastructure would also help stem the flow of rural-urban migration.
He stressed that talks and reports about the Orang Ulu community objecting to the dam project was erroneous.
“They only wanted to be consulted since this mammoth project would affect their lives. If possible, we want the state government to take into account the people’s opinions before they proceed with the project.”
On another matter, Abu Bakar said his community would also like the state government to consider appointing community leaders from the Orang Ulu community in Kuching, Sibu, Kapit, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang since a lot from them had migrated to these areas.
“We also need a Temenggong from the Kenyah community in Baram and Belaga.”
Abu Bakar opined that in order to spur economic activities and to enable the Orang Ulu community to progress, they hoped that the state government could provide agricultural aid to them.
“Besides that, we also want the state government to consider providing land and agricultural assistance to our people who had converted to Islam.”