Speech by Chiew Chin Sing, DAP Sarawak Deputy Chairman and Member of the Sarawak State Legislative Council for N59 Kidurong on the Debate of the Supply (2011) Bill 2010 and the Motion to refer the Estimates of Development Expenditure, 2010, on 4th November 2010 in the Sarawak State Legislative Council, Kuching, Sarawak.
Mr. Speaker, my heart sank ,when the bodies of the dead, one after another arrived at the mortuary at the Bintulu hospital, 13 of them, sent from Kelupu, Tatau river, where the Express boat and tug boat accident occurred.
We all wept with the families of the deceased and our sympathy go with them but no amount of tears or sorrows can bring back the lives of those who died. We thought about how could this had happened, in a land where rivers are many, and boat transportation had been our mode of transport since the early days.
We thought we have a sophisticated water transport system, and in place are our good boats, the rules and regulations. Yes, perhaps we have, but how often do we take a closer look at how things really are, and actually been travelling on a boat. Whether the boat operators are complying with the license conditions , how about the driver, the key man, to whom we entrust our lives in his hands, like the hand of the pilots of an airplane or a bus, is the maintenance on the boats sufficient, insurance, what about life vests, safety and escape procedures, ISO, river transport rules, so on and so forth.
Or are we not any better than the ferries and boats that had sank in our neighboring countries where we learnt of the neglects and mistakes made over and over again, though in place were the rules and regulations and their expertise also.
Are the lives of our people so cheap and worth so little like many other third world countries, that when we travel in our boats or even in our land transport system, the buses, the vans, cars that we are actually being transported around like goods instead of like an honorable and dignifying passenger.
It is high time that we tighten our transport system whether its land or water transport, that we give special attention to our drivers, such that they must be professional in all they do. Trained as a professional and work as a professional to up lift the whole standard of the job.
And give them the recognition which they deserve, when they are doing a good job. No more of the old days of short and slippers but to move up the notch of serving others in water transport with professionalism, as Sarawak is a land of rivers, and each day, hundreds of passengers boats sail up and down our rivers big or small in all divisions of our state. We must do all we can to constantly ensure that the lives of our passengers and the drivers are save and protected at all times especially those using the water ways.
The water ways below the Bakun Dam to Baleh River is gone, no more. What used to be the upper Rejang today is left with only a small muddy stream, with timber debris and sand bank on each side , ten, twenty times the width of the stream.
All of a sudden when Bakun started its impoundment on Oct 13 everything is changed. The place is all quiet and dead. The effect on the lives of the people, the eco system and environment there is too huge.
What used to be an hour boat ride from Bakun to Belaga now takes 3 hours and triple the fares, going through timber camp road to Belaga where the government offices are. Not to mention the longhouses affected from Bakun to Pelagus. The sufferings which the people there now face are really too much, too sudden and uncalled for.
Government ill prepare them for all these and even the road which was supposed to be build under the 8 Malaysia Plan from Bakun to Balaga was not build. What about the Bakun Airport which was so much talked about, it was planned for 747 landing, wasn’t it, it is not there.
The Bakun dam was supposed to bring so much high hopes to the people there, but to day they tastes only the bitter fruit of the development. I urge that government to look into the acute pains and sufferings felt by these people and take immediate actions to provide all the necessary helps that they need to pass through these hard times.
Mr. Terrence Anak Aloh and friends of the Similajau area, mile 31, Bintulu- Miri road. In 2006 this small group of enterprising locals had decided to take heed of the government’s advice to plant palm oil, and with what they have, they could only do it on small holdings in order to reduce their poverty. They started planting hundreds of acres of palm oil on their kampong and their temuda land.
They worked on the land, rented machines to opened up road and drains for their farm land. They bought the palm oil seedling and planted them. All their savings, EPF money, pension were all dumped in. One even sold his semi D in Bintulu to pay for the seedlings, fertilizer and other farm expenses.
The palm oil trees were growing well and Mr. Terrence and his friends were waiting for the rewards of their hard work, watching the palm oil trees grow every day.
But in early 2008 officers from the SAPU unit of the Forest Department came and told them that their temuda land is Forest Reserve land and thus the farming there were doing was on government land. All their farm tools and machineries then were taken to the Bintulu SAPU office and confiscated.
Meanwhile the palm oil trees grew on and many had started fruiting. But in April 2009, a contractor, claiming to be working for Daiken came to Mr. Terence and friends’ palm oil farm and started pushing over the fruiting palm oil trees with his kobelco crawler, thousands and thousands of them were over turned and killed overnight.
On the 18th of April, 2009, Mr. Terrance’ group made a police report about the incidence and although the contractor promised compensation but up to this day their request had been ignored.
Today with the palm oil tree turned over and died, Mr. Terrence and friends’ palm oil farm is all gone and planted with acacia trees by the contractor of Daiken. All the money, blood and sweat that was put in, by these enterprising local folks, planting palm oil on their temuda land had come to nothing, all has disappeared in thin air.
I believe that, had the government had more of the small holding farm folks in their hearts, instead of just the big companies, the palm oil planted by Mr. Terrence and his friends need not die a premature death, being turned over and died so that acacia can be planted.
If the government can sell the Forest Reserve land to a foreign company like Daiken for planting acacia, why can’t the government sell it to Mr. Terrence and his friends, the sons of our own soil.
Mr. Terrence and his friends urge that the government to think also the importance of small holders farming in Sarawak and to let them have a place under the sun. They hope that the government could also interfere in this case with regards to their compensation and that they be given a place to survive in one’s own homeland.
I call on the government that when we bring in the big development we should never forget our own people on the ground. We must make sure that they too can be a part of the development and do not loose anything but stand to gain even more from what they had.
But this is not the case always, like the case of En Hassan B Ayup who had bought four acres of Tanah Temuda at Sg. Plan Besar, Jalan Market Garden Road, Bintulu, from En Sulaiman Bin Bakar in July of 1978 as being witnessed by the late Penghulu Hj Hamzah Bin Keria .
There are about 20 others who had bought land there and are similarly claiming their Tanah Temuda there. There was even a record of this in Land and Survey Miri, in 1983, but today there is no mention anywhere of government’s record that those were theTanah Temuda of En. Sulaiman Bin Bakar, a Bintulu Melanau, who had sold his land to En Hassan B Ayup and others. Though it is a fact and well known to all the Bintulu Melanau that during the pre development days of Bintulu, the Melanau had lived there and were farming and fishing in the area.
Had there been a friendlier development, En Hasan B Ayup and the 20 others probably would still have their Tanah Temuda. But with the development of Bintulu, there lands were gone, no more. What they bought came to nothing and vanish in thin air. Today the land belongs to someone else.
But the irony of the whole thing is that as easy as the natives loose their lands, big company were easily getting lands in Bintulu. How could it be right to give land to big companies and for 99 years without even open tender and with hardly anybody knowing about it. Where is transparency? Like the near hundred acres of the old airport land and the 200 hectares of the ABF Housing beach land and others given to private companies. Why were there no open tender for sales of these prime lands which could bring in so much revenue for our state government to help our state and our people.
Another irony of the whole thing is that while lands were given away without tender, but those people who had stayed in shacks for decades and decades and who are in desperate need for a plot of land to build a house to stay, the government cannot even allocate a small piece of land for the whole community. Yet we have hectares and hectares of mix zone prime land and thousand and thousands hectares of rural agriculture lands given to big plantation companies.
Although a large part of the land under section 47 had been released earlier this year after years and years of unhappiness and outcry by the people in Bintulu. There are still quite a bit of which, that are still not released. The government said that many of those are for infrastructures development and others.
I am talking about the land at the near side of the Kemena river at the Nyigu road area, many of these lands are still under section 47. Like other lands in Bintulu if they could be released from section 47, why not these. They are all Bintulu land and what ever development studies or planning that needs to be done, after some thirty odd years now, should all have been done already and those not required should be released like those lands that had been released. It is therefore urged that these lands be released immediately of section 47 also. Land owners are afraid of having to wait again, as the last time they waited, they waited for thirty odd years. I therefore say, land that are acquired under section 47 and not used, be released automatically in 2 years.
I have a copy of a letter jointly signed by 60 house owners of Lot 44, Pearl Garden, Block 32, Kemena Land District or at Jalan Sibiew, Bintulu. Home owners of the Pearl Garden are very concerned and sad about the approval of the housing estate level by the authority for the development of an adjourning neighbouring lot into another housing estate. The level of the new housing estate is at a level much higher than that of the adjacent existing Pearl Garden and as a result, a retaining is built between the two at the boundaries.
The retaining wall of the new housing estate is 3.5 meter high and together with a fence, the whole wall will be 6 meter high, back to back with Pearl Garden existing wall, and towering over their houses. After completion, the distance between the retaining wall and the Pearl Garden house is only four and half feet apart or a step away.
Pearl Garden home owners are asking the authority to reconsider in giving the approval to the adjacent lot to a lower level, instead of the big difference in level of the two housing estates. Because with a double wall at the boundary, back to back, whatever that flows out from the weeps holes of the retaining wall of the new housing estate, is coming out and flowing onto the fences and compounds of the Pearl Garden Folks.
Whichever the case may be it is urged that the matter be looked into again from and with, both sides. We appreciate housing developers making houses for people to buy and live in and the BDA in approving building plans and projects, but whatever we do, decisions we make, make sure that it can help us to live together happily and harmoniously as good and happy neighbours
Along the Jalan Tun Hussein Onn, not all junctions, going into the many housing estates, has traffic lights, and of course we cannot have that. But however, something has to be done at these junctions, as it is getting messy, especially the junctions at the SMK Bandar/Shell Station and SK Sibiew. These junctions have to be better planned and developed, as too many cars are using or not using these junctions, some just drive across the road median and make a turn, making driving on the highway quite disorderly and dangerous indeed. Apart from that lorries parking alongside the road at night and the snail pace culvert construction at mile 6 are causing problems there too.
However, it was noted that along the Tun Hussein Onn Road, the right turning shoulder lanes to Taman YTD and others are all very short, queuing into, one of the two straight going lanes, making it passable only when the turning is done. It is urged that the turning shoulder lanes must be lengthened.
But even with that, I think this could only be a short term measure to alleviate the congested traffic along the Tun Hussein Onn road and Jalan Sultan Iskandar. What is needed today is a third lane on each side for these two roads, making them into 3 or four lanes highways, as more and more cars join us every day on the road.
Such is also the case at the Kidurong road. We need to add more lanes to the road urgently, before the road is jam stuck. And what is the status of the new road going to and from the Petronas Housing to the Bintulu Port, may I ask.
Every body enjoys so much the new sea shore road, leading from Tg. Batu Beach to the ABF Housing area. The 2 KM drive have a pleasant view of the Tg. Batu Beach, the south China Sea and the beautiful lagoon.
Driving along the road, though is not completely like driving along the Lake Shore Drive of Lake Michigan, but the feeling is the same. Because it is only 2 KM, and like I say, every body is enjoying it, it is hoped that at least a part of the lagoon could be retained and developed into a water park, incorporating and keeping much of the existing sea shore activities, and adding on some water sports. This is because for so long already, this beach area had been one of the favorite places for rest and relaxation for the people in Bintulu. But today with the earth filling works going on in the lagoon all is going to be different.
If I say Tg. Batu Beach or Tg. Kidurong Beach these names ring a bell immediately. But if I say Pantai Temasya, you would probably wonder where that is. Yes, for what is in a name. A name is an identity, it tells a story. It carries with it the heritage and all the traditions of a place.
For as long as many of us know, Tg. Batu Beach had been the name of the beach at Tg. Batu, that famous place in Bintulu where many of us grew up with and each having his or her own affinity, feeling, memories and story of the place. The name Tg. Batu Beach thus have become a special place, occupying a special part in our hearts and therefore we call the beach our own. That is how it is for all of us in Bintulu with regards to the place and name Tg. Batu Beach.
Today we see the name Pantai Temasya placed at the beach. Seeing the name changed, one immediately get a feeling of it being quite foreign, as if the place has changed, it is just not the same feeling. Tg. Batu Beach is the name of the beach at Tg. Batu, I know many people in Bintulu would like to keep it that way, keeping her identity and all the stories and memories of the beech for each and every one of us.
Bintulu Sibu road is getting worse and worse and it can only get worse until they are done over. There are so many cars using this road and no reason that the road should not be kept in top notch condition. I urge that major road repair be done to those stretches that are worn out already and lay down a new stretch and make them at least look like a highway which is only possible with high quality works and close supervision.
Madam Lim Hui Ngo’s husband Ngui Eng Song died in 1988 when she was 43 years old, leaving her 4 children to raise. He also left a 2.064 acre land lot, known as Lot 635, Kemana Land District which her husband had planted rubber trees and fruit trees. But up this day the land is not transferred to her name yet even though she had tried many times, written some many letters and through so many avenues to get the land transfer to her name.
Land and Survey, Bintulu in 1997 wrote a letter to her and told her that her application for the issuance of title for the above lot is not approved and since then she had been trying even harder, making appeal after appeal through letters or personally to all concerned but all to no avail.
The land was given to the late Mr. Ngui in 1963 by the government then and this was the only property which he had left for his wife and the children. Today madam Lim is still a widower waiting for the transfer of the land to her name. I therefore urge that the Land and Survey Department to help her in this case and give her back the land and issue her the land title.
Mr. Majah Anak Sari of Rh Juna, Mile 41.5, Bintulu –Miri road, had about 4 acres of land near his longhouse where he had planted palm oil tress. But sadly the Petronas Sabah-Sarawak pipe passed by right through the middle of his land bull dozing off his palm oil making his land completely not useable anymore because it passed through the middle.
Land and Survey compensated him only 0.019 acres or an amount of over a thousand ringgit. It is really not enough, at least pay him enough money so that he can buy another piece of land as this is all that he has, and now all broken up. He and his family need a piece of land for a living after his pension soon.
Mr. Majah had made so many appeals and wrote many letters even to Petronas but all to no avail. I hope that his problem can be solved so that Mr. Majah does not have to loss everything because of development.
Hundred and hundred of the over thousand units of the 16 blocks of flat housing at Sg. Plan owed housing loans to the Housing Commission and are facing having their homes locked in by the Housing Commission and sold off unless they settle their outstanding debt by 9th of Nov, 2010.
Many are getting panicky as they do not know where to get the money to pay off the debt. They are worried because once their flat unit is locked in, where are they going to stay, what about their children and their elderly. Almost all who stay there are the natives who have come from all over Sarawak, from Miri, Niah, Kemena, Kakus, Mukah, Tamin, Sibu, Kapit, Sarikei, Betong, Serian and others coming to Bintulu to find a living.
They have written to the Housing Commission and ask for leniency and to reschedule their debts and I urge that the Housing Commission to give them due consideration and not to be too harsh on them, locking them out of their homes and selling off their flats. What else do they have?
I am not condoning those who can pay but are not paying, these people should pay up. But there those who genuinely cannot pay and I urge that Housing Commission do a detail survey into this, to study their background and their income level and work out a plan to reschedule their debts so that they can stay on in their homes.