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Senator told to understand holistic issues surrounding water resource management, flood mitigation – Tiong
Posted on : 15 Aug 2020  Source of News: The Borneopost online

KUCHING (Aug 15): Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing is asking Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew to understand the holistic issues surrounding water resources management and flood mitigation before harping on paper theories and comparing modern times to the 1950s.

The Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president said Lau should stop leading the people on a merry-go-round by scoffing at calls for survey and research works on the affected rivers.

He said Lau’s choice of giving anecdotal testimony and bringing people back to the olden times should raise suspicions.

“Based on my experience with dredging projects, I have discussed extensively with the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID) to arrive at more effective similar solutions to solve long-standing problems and ease the people’s burdens.

“But, Lau, who is the SUPP’s Bawang Assan branch chairman, has opted to forego common sense solutions with unnecessarily complex methods to mitigate the issue at hand. They have included building pumping stations, bunds, elevating roads, all of which entail enormous cost to public funds. Has he lost touch with reality?

“How far is the distance from Durin to the lower parts of Sibu? How much will all his grand plans cost? Can Lau even fathom the reality of the situation?” he asked in a statement today.

He felt that the Senator did not understand the Dutch were compelled to build entire complex systems to prevent the entire country from being submerged, for an enormous amount of money.

He wondered if Lau even understood the expenditures necessary for such a huge venture for the Netherlands.

“Does he think Sibu has the same situation as the Netherlands? Sibu is not surrounded by sea water or rivers but is at the mercy of a large river that discharges huge volumes of water.

“Due to activities upstream, siltation has become a main problem that causes the riverbed to become shallower and lead to blockage,” pointed out Tiong.

He said it was perplexing that Lau, as a lawyer, had constantly scoffed at allowing the DID to carry out survey works to determine the actual root causes before implemeting further flood mitigation works.

He said such survey works would cost much less than the enormous expenditure Lau was proposing.

Compared to the previous few water control projects in Sibu, he said this was something which must be considered in depth.

“It is ludicrous of a politician like Lau to use photos from the 1950s to discuss these matters. Neither I nor Lau were even born yet. Should I be showing him photos of the town from World War II when we discuss policies?

“Water management and policy planning should not be based on historical situations but by considering the future situation as a result of the current day. We need to consider the well-being of the people instead of simply shouting out words or making statements. Lau, don’t let your arrogance make you think you’re a hero,” he said.

He said Lau should not jump to conclusions without proper study and insisting on his own narrow opinions would only alienate the people and invite their hatred against him.

Tiong said he had lived on the Rejang River with his family since 1962.

He recalled having followed his father carrying his chicken and chicken eggs to sell in downtown Sibu during his student days.

“When I left the district in the 1980s, Lau was not even there yet. Even if you live there, you have only moved there recently. Don’t mislead the people by saying otherwise.

“In my long years there, I have a good knowledge of how deep the riverbed is when looking out from the pier and know how it has changed along the decades. This is why I have repeatedly insisted for surveys to be done first,” stressed Tiong.

He said Lau ought to wonder why the waters of the Rejang and Igan were unable to recede during the low tide, with the water level remaining the same at high and low tides.

According to the MP, this is because both rivers seriously lack the space for their water to discharge.

“Where would the flood go when water discharged from the dam cannot be redirected safely?” he asked.

Tiong said he insisted that before the complete survey report was released, any implementation of a water mitigation project would lack a forward-looking plan.

“If the project is completed but still unable to contain the flood, there will be hell to pay and as always, it is the people who will suffer the most even if such a failed project is ‘reviewed’,” he added.

On Thursday, Lau said building of bunds, pumping stations and retention ponds or lakes was the long-term solution to Sibu’s flooding problem.

He said this in response to Tiong’s earlier remarks on Sibu’s perennial flood, adding that the floods were not caused by siltation of rivers.

The former Sibu Rural District Council deputy chairman said Sibu’s floods happened due to its geographical location in a low lying and peaty ground.

“The low-lying area of Sibu is below King Tide level. This means that the low-lying areas will be flooded whenever there is king tide.

“The logical way to prevent this is to stop water from flowing inland during king tide. And this involves the building of bunds, pumping stations and retention ponds or lakes,” Lau added.