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Apologise or we’ll sue, villagers tell minister
Sarawak state minister Michael Manyin has angered Bidayuh voters in Tebedu area.
SERIAN: Angry villagers from Kampung Temung and Kampung Tepoi are demanding that state Infranstructure Development and Communication Minister, Michael Manyin, apologise for tarnishing the community’s reputation.
A spokesman for both villages, Papai Angin said if Manying does not apologise for slandering them, then the community would seek legal redress.
“We now demand that Michael Manyin immediately apologise to the Bidayuh community in Kampung Temung and Kampung Tepoi failing which we will seriously consider taking legal action against him as he has slandered us and caused our name and reputation to be tranished.
“On the Sept 27, 2011 as reported in the papers, the minister accused us, the villagers of Kampung Temung and Kampung Tepoi of being anti-development.
“He also implied that, as a result of our supposedly anti-development stance, other villages in Tebedu district are now unfairly deprived of access to treated, pipe-in water,” he said.
According to media reports, Manyin had made a reference to an instance where villagers from the two areas had stopped surveyors from the Land and Survey Department from carrying out surveying works on a piece of kampung land where a water booster pump was supposed to be sited.
Manyin had described the villagers as ‘anti-development’.
“We are extremely unhappy with this statement from the minister, in which he painted us as a group of people who resist development mindlessly and in the process, deprived not just people in our own villages but also folks of the other villagers of the much needed treated pipe-in water.
“Manyin’s statement is malicious and in bad faith, crafted to make himself look like a victim of irrational behaviour and selfish attitude on our part.
“His statement was carried in the daily papers which have very substantial circulations in the state.
“Our names and reputation have been unjustly maligned, not just in Tebedu but through out Malaysia,” Papai said.
He also pointed out that it was unbecoming of a Bidayuh minister to run down his own community.
“We find it most unbecoming of Manyin, who is not just a state minister but an acknowledged leader of stature among the Bidayuhs, to run down the very own community that he was given the responsibility to protect and to nuture.
“We want to clearly state here that it has never been our intention to knowingly deprive any party of much needed development projects by resisting such projects without just cause.
“As we all know, the villagers were and still are embroiled in bitter disputes with a timber company that was given the rights to log, not only the virgin forest near our villages but also the land in which we claimed native customary rights.
“The case is pending resolution in the court,” Papai added.
Unresolved dispute over land
He said that the villagers have been told that the timber company concerned is partly owned by a state-run foundation.
“As a full-fledged minister, Manyin has the full knowledge of the disputes as he was one of several parties from whom we sought help and assitance in the matter but he did not make any serious attempts to address our grievances.
“The police are also fully aware of the situation as police reports were made, not only by the villagers but also by other parties involved in the disputes.
“We the villagers of Kampung Temung and Kampung Tepoi consider the dispute as unresolved and because of that we will not permit any kind of land-based activity to take place in our villagers without our consent and agreement until our grievances is resolved to our full satisfaction,” he said.
The statement was issued after the villagers met members and leaders of PKR who have actively assisted them in their efforts to reclaim their rights over the disputed land.
Stop blaming opposition
Meanwhile, Sarawak PKR health bureau director, Dr Christopher Kiyui said there was no need for the water project as the people were already enjoying clean water supply from the gravity feed system.
He said that when the logging activity took place, the water was dirty.
But after the activity stopped, the water from the catchment area was clean again.
Another opposition leader, Edward A Luak, chided Manyin for accusing the DAP of instigating the villagers.
“He is pulling the wool over eyes of the people, but the people are no longer fools,” he said.
Luak said Manyin had no right to associate the opposition with anti-development.
“In fact, the opposition’s ideology is not to influence the people to go against development.
“We in the opposition actually would ask the people to demand for development to be implemented in their area.
“After all, the funds for the project come from the tax-payers’ money,” said Luak who heads the Serian DAP branch.
On Sept 27, Manyin said that the RM90 million meant for the treated water supply to the various villages in the constituency was put on hold due to the anti-development atttitude of the people of the two villages.
He accused them of being influenced by the opposition’s ideology.