The recent statement by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Bung Moktar, which puts the blame on the farmers for massive land clearing and causing serious water pollution is an insult to the people of Kaiduan and Upper Papar.
Jannie added that such a serious accusation must be accompanied by a full technical report.
There are many reports available on the efforts by communities to manage the biodiversity of the Ulu Papar area, including the establishment of a biocultural community protocol and the strengthening of the adat or customary concepts to avoid damaging the forest.
The communities have also revitalised their Tagal system to look after the river and its riparian reserves as they are dependent on the river for their food supply and for their micro-hydro systems.
Experts agree that the Papar River catchment is one of the best in Sabah.
The Sabah Parks, with the support of communities and NGOs, also successfully managed to get the UNESCO to declare the forests within the Crocker Range Park as a Biosphere Reserve in 2014, and has been promoting the Salt Trail as a tourism adventure destination.
“Damage to a large part of the forest environment could be due to the private companies starting their oil palm plantations, when the Sabah Rubber Industry Board (LIGS) terraced the area for rubber planting, and the more recent road construction, but farmers generally do not do massive land clearing” Jannie said.
Jannie once again appealled to the Minister and the Water Department to give serious considerations to the proposed water supply alternatives to the dam.
“Large dams disrupt the flow of the river causing imbalance to the natural hydrological and ecological systems. This disruption has a long-term effect on both upstream and downstream, which means the proposed Kaiduan dam would not ensure sustainable water supply for the next 100 years as Minister Bung Moktar wants us to believe” Jannie added.
The GRS government should form an independent Committee of Experts to study viable alternatives to the Kaiduan dam and not rely only on experts from companies that have interests on the dam construction or on experts from government agencies or the ministries who have already put a lot of efforts secure funding for the dam project.
29 January 2021