Sungai Asap residents turn to SEB to help build their memorial hall
BELAGA: The residents of Sungai Asap Resettlement Scheme have asked Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) to help them set up a memorial hall in honour of their ancestors whose graves are submerged in Bakun lake.
The request was made on behalf of the people by Pemanca Tony Kulleh in his speech during a welcoming ceremony for a visit to the resettlement by a SEB delegation, led by group chief executive officer Sharbini Suhaili recently.
The delegates also included SEB group chief operations officer Lu Yew Hung and SEB executive vice-president for corporate services Aisah Eden.
According to Tony, the people of Sungai Asap are turning to SEB to help set up this memorial hall because of the big sacrifice they made when they had to relocate from their ancestral land to make way for the Bakun hydroelectricity power (HEP) dam construction.
“The people have given way for the development of the dam, but the burial ground of their ancestors will be forever submerged in the lake.
“Therefore there is a need for a memorial hall to be constructed for the people to remember and honour their ancestors.”
Tony said the community had proposed to the government before and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said that the government would set aside RM2 million to build the hall but to date, there is no further development on the promised allocation.
He added that besides building the memorial hall, there is a need to set up a fund to maintain it. In this regard, he hoped that SEB would allocate some long-term business opportunities for the locals to help them set up the maintenance fund.
Earlier in his speech, Tony who is the organising chairman of the event, thanked the SEB delegates for visiting Sungai Asap and meeting the people at Uma Bakah.
“We are happy that the management of SEB has decided to visit Sungai Asap after the group took over Bakun dam, to engage the people directly affected by Bakun HEP and to understand them better.”
Tony hoped that SEB would continue to assist the people of Sungai Asap like what Sarawak Hidro – the previous owner of Bakun HEP dam – had done through the Balui Lake Native Association (BLNA), said to be the only association recognised by Sarawak Hidro and other related government agencies as the legitimate voice of the local communities from Sungai Asap and Belaga affected by the HEP.
Sharbini, meanwhile, thanked the residents for the grand reception accorded to the SEB delegates for their first visit to the settlement.
He assured the Sungai Asap folk that SEB would continue whatever Sarawak Hidro had agreed to implement, follow through and enhance them through their corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects.
“SEB will continue to collaborate with the locals and BLNA in helping the people who are affected by the dam project to live better lives,” he said, announcing a donation of RM20,000 to BLNA to support its operations.
Among those present were state administrative officer Kuba Lusat and local community leaders Pemanca Umek Jeno, Penghulu Saging Bit and Penghulu Ibau Ajan.
Sharbini (third left) receives a ‘Berat Lapik’ – the Orang Ulu traditional mat – as a memento from Tony.
Sharbini (sixth right) presents the RM20,000 donation to Tony, representing BLNA.