Balingian folk complain of health hazard from smelting plant
Posted on March 20, 2014, Thursday
KUCHING: The government is urged to seriously look into complaints from villagers about health hazard posed by an aluminum smelting plant in Balingian.
State PKR chairman, Baru Bian, in making the call said he was told by villagers living in the vicinity of the plant that they feared for their health as many of them had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
“They said the smelting plant was the cause of the widespread cases of lung cancer in villages and longhouses in the vicinity. They also claimed that someone was diagnosed with lung cancer every month.”
Speaking at a press conference here yesterday Baru recalled that he and his colleagues in Pakatan Rakyat had raised the issue (health hazard) at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting on a number of times but it always fell on deaf ears on the part of the government.
“I am naturally concerned after being told of this and I will personally go to the ground after this by-election to see for myself the extent of the disease. If nothing is done, I will raise the matter again in the next DUN sitting.”
During his trip to Balingian recently, Baru, a prominent lawyer specialising in NCR land, said he was approached by two groups who complained that a company had taken away their land.
“Land grabbing is very common in Balingian. They told me they have complained, protested and even went to the company but nothing could be done. I also asked about the Melanau land in general and they told me that their land had already ‘finished’. Land is a very hot issue here especially among those affected.”
On the federal government’s promise to rebuild SK Tellian and to build a new secondary school in Balingian, Baru called on Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to announce the amount of allocation and time frame for the two projects to be completed.
“It is good that they promised but don’t let it be just a rhetoric during election campaign. Without the details being announced, I doubt if the two promises can be fulfilled.”
On the by-election Baru said it would be a barometer of sorts for many issues, including the performance of Barisan Nasional which has represented the people there for the past 30 years or so.
Although PKR remained an underdog in this by-election, he believed it was not impossible for the party to win the seat. Statistics have shown that the BN’s majority in Balingian had been decreasing each election.
“This shows that the people are getting more receptive towards PR’s call for change in the government.”
He added that the reception received by the party’s candidate, Abdul Jalil Bujang, was also beyond their expectation, considering that the constituency had been BN’s stronghold for more than 30 years.