Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Villagers don’t want Bengoh Dam gazetted as national park

Posted on October 15, 2013, Tuesday

STRONG PROTEST: Simo (seated, second left) and the villagers protesting against the government’s plan to gazette Bengoh Dam as a national park. See is seated third right.

KUCHING: The 90 families from Kpg Bojong Sting, Kpg Rejoi Nyegol and Kpg Sait Muk Ayun in Bengoh are strongly against the government’s decision to gazette Bengoh Dam as a national park.

Under the plan, the Bengoh Dam with an area of about 5,022 hectares and Bungo Range (Extension 1) with an area of about 3,572 hectares will be turned into a national park.

According to the villagers’ representative, Simo Sekam from Kpg Rejoi Nyegol, they held a discussion over the weekend, where they decided not to relocate and would continue staying in their current settlement.

“All the villagers in the three villages do not agree with the proposal by the government to gazette Bengoh Dam National Park. We have decided that we will not move and will continue to stay in the lands that we have inherited from our ancestors,” Simo said in a press conference yesterday, disclosing that they had appointed Baru Bian & Advocates to look into their case.

Also present were representatives from Kpg Bojong Sting, Bodui Dayu and Kpg Sait Muk Ayun Atut Nyis.

They took the opportunity to thank Mambong MP Datuk Seri Dr James Dawos Mamit and Bengoh assemblyman Datuk Dr Jerip Susil for recognising the rights of the indigenous people and allowing them to remain in their current settlement.

“However, the government should take care of the people and as MP and Adun (state assemblyman), it is their job to take care of the people and provide us with all the basic necessities,” Simo said.

Meanwhile, Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How said the government’s decision to gazette Bengoh Dam as national park was malicious and an attempt to force the villagers to move to the resettlement scheme in Semadang.

“There was no such thing as national park in the original plan. When they talked about Bengoh dam, it only involved Bengoh dam and catchment area.

“The idea of a national park only surfaced now because they knew that the villagers are building their settlements above the water catchment area and to extinguish their villagers’ rights over their areas.”

See, who is also state PKR vice chairman, noted that the villagers would only be given certain rights on the national park but would not be permitted to conduct activities such as hunting, fishing, collecting jungle produce, clearing the land and do farming.

“They (villagers) have already asked the court to declare whether they have rights over the NCR (native customary rights) land in Upper Bengoh so wait for the court to decide. Don’t go to the back door, side door or elsewhere just to try to grab their land.”

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