The closest to the dam… but no electricity? Huh..
I still remember the very first day I went to work in Batang Ai area I was thinking that this place doesn’t have problem with electricity because it’s the nearest to the hydro dam and with no worry I went there to report duty. Along the way after the junction at the main road, I can see that area mostly covered with oil palms and I didn’t surprise by that because there’s a palm oil factory on one side of the road and this area have been “silently” famous for that (even ever since I was a kid). The first problem I encounter was “what no cell phone coverage?” after I passed by the oil palm’s regional office. Why in so many places, this place was out of cell phone’s operators coverage? Isn’t there any of them want to claim this as their “wilayah“? So I put my handphone away. Then I saw the oil palm factory on my right side of the road and the smell came from that factory was terrible (but they make food smell good when they become cooking oil :p ). I slow down my car a bit to observe that area, well of course no biodiesel factory yet hehehe (who knows ada kan?). Then I continued my journey, there’s a lot of longhouses along the road and all were supplied with electricity (I can see the cable to their longhouse). So I said to myself (indeed I’m right, this place got electric). Lets go straight to the real story.
Then I went to the up river area of Batang Ai river. We have to use wooden boat and I can see the Hilton longhouse resort not far away from the dam site. So we leave the dam site and proceed on. The dam lake was huge (and I was wondering, how deep is it and what’s the bottom look like hehehe). But I don’t think there’s any crazy divers want to dive in that lake, the water was bluish and bright in colour . But upriver the water is green (quiet different from other side of the lake). Well maybe because it was a man made flood or maybe there’s a lot of algae in the water, I’m not so sure about that hehehe and I can’t imagine how big is the area that will be flooded by the bakun dam soon seeing this one is already enormous.
We arrive at one of the longhouse after about an hour boat ride from the dam site (still this area is the stagnant river flooded because of the hydro dam. There are a school, a clinic and Batang Ai National Park HQ around that area. Talking to the tuai rumah of that longhouse, I can’t help myself of asking “Bisi karan kita ditu apai?” or do you have electricity supplied here? He said “we here never taste what’s it like to have electricity like town area. All we have is the generator which used by all “bilek” here called “generator gerempong” or shared generator and this only used a few times a week or only one time a week but not even 24 hours because it depends on how much petrol we have (and they bought that petrol with their longhouse fund). I also ask “How about other longhouse also like that school and clinic?”. He said, they’re also using generator but their petrol of course supplied by government. The I ask one more question, “Did you people request this to your YB?”, before he could answer me, a guy came between our conversation offering a glass of “tuak” and eventually he forgot I asked that question as that guy start to telling some jokes. Then I asked one of the guy why electricity is not supplied here? he said “they say the cost is very high”. Wtf, that’s a pure b#*@s*^ts, that’s should not be the excused. How much is it actually? We managed to built bakun with billions and how about the new DUN building, more than 30millions. Does money really an obstacle for this to happen and if does, man, how “poor” is our state. It was sad that this people who live only an hour ride from the dam didn’t even have the chance to taste the electricity as the additional compensation for losing their land flooded because of that dam. They’re also human, they have their needs. I don’t know why this is happen (maybe that’s why the previous YB before the late Dublin Unting losses in the election, this is pure assumption actually).
Anyway, again I was thinking why on earth is this place doesn’t supplied with electricity? Our people at our hometown, hundreds and hundreds kilometers far away from this hydro dam enjoying the airconds, watching astro and doing their daily chores with ease. How about this people? They live on the hill top now because of the flood with no access to make their life easier and to have the taste of the current stream of technologies. For whatever monetary cost there are, they should be first to enjoy this electricity. Now they maybe become the last of not at all. I don’t think a lot of people know this, one of my friend were surprise to hear about this when I told him.
What I’m not sure is that, whether this people offered to move to the town area (like other longhouses flooded by the dam water) when this dam was started. Even if they did, they’ve done the right thing to stay and continue to live their land which they inherited from their ancestor. For some people this is disobedient and some might say “sapa suruh” but what would you feel when people asked you to get out of your own house or village and burnt your house down just because they’ve have acquire the land for “development” and in the end your life will not turn to be better.
Anyway, there’s a lot of question to all this and only God knows who can answer them. After so many years we enjoyed our lives with electricity and living our lives with all latest technologies we can get, who would’ve thought those who are closer to the source than us were left behind. My only hope is that those “who” should’ve listen to this problem will make it better for these people and I can bet you, if you did that, it will be your biggest deeds. Well for me, all I can do is to continue praying for a better world, and a better life. Give this a thought people….