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KOTA KINABALU, Sept 8, 2015:

Instead of building dams, the Sabah government should secure sustainable water supply by seeking innovative methods such as harnessing rainwater collection.

Calling on the authorities to focus on economic activities that are not water intensive, a group of non-governmental organisations, namely the Sabah Save Rivers Coalition (SSRC) and Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam (TAKaD), in a joint statement today, expressed their irony that the government was adamant about building a dam in Ulu Papar, which serves as a natural watershed.

Speaking on behalf of SSRC, Mary Giun said development in Sabah must be environmentally friendly, as pledged through numerous policies and programmes that have been initiated, such as the Sabah Development Corridor.

“The state government has repeatedly said environmental sustainability features strongly in its development plans. Yet, we are not seeing this promise translated into reality. We should not focus on industries that rely heavily on water.

“Today, the government is still pushing for the construction of the controversial Kaiduan Dam despite years of protests by people in the local communities, who will lose their ancestral lands, homes, places of worship and traditional way of life.”

She explained that by being in the tropics, Sabah would not face any acute water shortage, as predicted by the government and used as the argument to rationalise the construction of the dam.

“We also must address non-revenue water which is still plaguing Sabah.

“Plus it is wrong for the government to say this dam is the only solution available. It shows that those entrusted with the task of looking for secure water sources are not doing their jobs well.”

SSRC and TAKaD are also still trying to convince the Sabah Water Department to present its views at a public forum on Kaiduan Dam on Sept 16.

Giun has welcomed the public to attend the half-day forum, scheduled to start at 8.30am in Likas Square.

It will see presentations from geologist Professor Dr Felix Tongkul of Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Nousi Giun of TAKaD and Gabriel Wyn of TONIBUNG and Green Empowerment.

Bersih Sabah chairperson Jannie Lasimbang recently announced the endorsement of the public forum as a follow-up to Bersih 4 Kota Kinabalu (#B4KK) in achieving the five demands of Bersih 4 as it relates to calls for a clean government, right to dissent and clean elections.

She also encouraged those who participated in the B4KK to examine government projects to ensure its implementation is accountable to the people, free from corruption and does not jeopardise the people’s economic livelihood.

More information can be obtained at the Sabah Save Rivers Facebook page and website.

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