Thursday, January 13, 2011

Najib may dish out goodies to Bakun folk

13 January 2011

Regina Lee

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is scheduled to visit Sarawak again this weekend, amidst wide speculation that he will be dishing out compensation to villagers displaced by the RM7.3 billion Bakun Dam.

According to the natives who once lived in the dam area, the premier is expected to visit their village in Sungai Asap, where he is likely to hand over some form of the long-delayed compensation.

Residents of some 15 longhouses were moved out of the area to Sungai Asap – roughly 30km away – in 1998 to make way for the hydroelectric dam project.

While some of the residents have been given compensation, it is estimated that a lot more have not received theirs.

Miku Loyang, a Bakun native of the Kayan descent, told Malaysiakinithat up to RM7 million in compensation still had to be given out to the villagers to cover the cost of their land, crops, plantations and living quarters.

At the same time, he believes that Najib would also be giving out some form of goodies during his trip there in light of the forthcoming state election.

The full-term of the Sarawak assembly expires in July, which means that Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud will have to call for an election before then.

The Belaga state seat, under which Bakun falls, saw the BN candidate, Liwan Lagang, win by only a slim 227-vote majority in the 2006 state election, making it a “dangerous” seat for the coalition.

Najib to also attend Taib’s wedding party?

Najib is expected to meet the villagers affected by the Bakun Dam in Kapit, early on Saturday morning in Belaga, before making his way to Sungai Asap in the afternoon.

Although it is not stated in his official itinerary sent to media organisations by the Sarawak Information Department, it is understood that Najib will head back to Kuching for Taib’s wedding banquet on Saturday night.

Sunday morning will see Najib open the SUPP convention before heading for Samarahan to attend another programme.

Taib, 74, recently confirmed that a state banquet would be held to celebrate his recent marriage to a 28-year-old Syrian national, Ragad Waleed Alkurdi, said to be a former flight attendant.

It is understood that apart from Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor, more than 1,000 VVIPs and dignitaries are expect the attend the function at the Dewan Santapan in the new state legislative complex. – Malaysiakini

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