Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bakun compensation: Dispute delaying payments

By Joseph Tawie

KUCHING: Chairman of the Bakun Resettlement Committee James Masing has admitted that some of the Bakun claimants have not been compensated. He attributed the delay to some dispute among individual claimants.

“I cannot tell you the amount involved, but there are a few million ringgit which has been deposited with the court.

“Once the dispute has been settled, the governments will pay them,” he said.

Masing, who is Land Development Minister, was commenting on a complaint by George Surang, a settler, that 15,000 people affected by the Bakun dam project have not been fully compensated.

“I admit that there are some people who have not been paid, because of claims and counter-claims by them. Because of the dispute, we do not know who to pay so we deposited the money with the court,” Masing said, adding, however, that the original number of people affected by the dam is about 10,000 and not 15,000 as reported.

On the problems faced by the settlers, Masing said the government is doing everything to help them start a new life in the resettlement area.

Surang, a Kayan who had been working with the dam project, was one of the people who had to be resettled at Sungai Asap Resettlement Scheme.

He said he worked with the project when the first hole was drilled, helped negotiate with the authorities regarding the resettlement plans in 1996 and was present when physical construction started on the river diversion tunnels.

Surang added that Bakun valley, which was still a primary jungle then, was a source of food, fish and clean water for his people. But today all these have disappeared.

Surang also pointed out the people are facing problems paying instalments for houses in the resettlement site and for electricity.

“Now the Bakun project is about to finish and our compensation has not been settled,” he said, urging the authorities to pay them their compensation for leaving their longhouses and farms.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

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