Monday, June 16, 2008


Mp ridiculed for trying to help Gaya islanders


Putatan Member of Parliament Datuk Marcus Mojigoh said he had been ridiculed for trying to resolve the problems of villagers in Pulau Gaya. He said this is because most people thought that the villagers are foreigners, both legal and illegal “They always think that when I bring all these issues up, I am addressing the problems of the immigrants but they are wrong. Don’t get the feeling that they are foreigners because they are actually locals,” he said. Mojigoh urged corporate companies and the private sector to assist the villagers in Kampung Pulau Gaya and Kampung Pulau Gaya Baru to resolve their water woes. He said the private sector and corporate companies have the corporate responsibility to help out the locals in need. He said this after a lighting inspection trip to the two villages located on Pulau Gaya, a mere seven minutes away by boat from the mainland here. “I have spoken to Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib about this matter and suggested that some sort of water distilling facility be built on the island so that villagers there have access to clean water,” Mojigoh said. “Maybe the corporate companies can assist by building a water distilling facility on the island,” he said and stressed that the lack of clean water supply is one of the main problems affecting villagers on the island. Mojigoh also lamented that the problem is not new as nothing has been done to improve the water supply system on the island. “I have been pressuring for funds from the relevant ministries but to no avail and I repeat the effort is like a puppy barking at the mountain. There is no effect,” he said, adding that the Government’s inability to resolve the people’s problems will make them vote for the Opposition. “They have no alternative because they feel that the Government is not serious in resolving their problems and we do not want this to happen,” he said. Mojigoh also issued an invitation to the Rural and Regional Development Minister to personally visit the island and see for himself just how dire the living conditions are. “I won’t be surprised if what he sees there will bring tears to his eyes,” Mojigoh said. Meanwhile, community leaders of Kampung Pulau Gaya and Kampung Pulau Gaya Baru said that even after 50 years of the country’s independence, their living conditions have not changed much. Of course they now have (limited) electricity supply, schools and are no longer living in huts with ‘nipah’ roof, the living condition of the 2,000 over villagers here is still very difficult. The villagers are lamenting the fact despite being so near to the City, they do not have basic necessities such as steady supply of clean water and medical services. Village leaders when met during Mojigoh’s visit to the island, expressed hope that the Government would seriously consider easing their burden. “We are not asking for 100 percent development on the island but just the basic infrastructure such as clean water supply and uninterrupted electricity supply,” Community Developer Salleh Haji Lait said. Salleh said that residents in the two villages are of course grateful to the Government for providing educational facilities and electricity but pointed that more needs to be done to help the villagers. “If possible we would like to enjoy 24-hour electricity supply because at the moment the power supply to the island is only from 5pm to midnight. Our most urgent need though is clean water supply as we are now depending on springs and wells as well as rainwater. “Those who can afford it can purchase water and if we use it sparingly, two 100-litre drums of water can last only two days,” he said, adding that it costs about RM25 to fill up two 100-litre drums. Villagers collect rain water for bathing and washing clothes, he said. Mojigoh has proposed that a reservoir be built on the island so that the villagers can enjoy clean water all the time. According to Salleh further, numerous requests to set up a rural clinic on the island has also been rejected by the authorities who cited security reason for not approving the medical facility. Salleh said there had been cases of fatalities because ailing villagers were unable to get medical attention and also of mothers delivering their babies in the boats transporting them to the mainland. “We would like to stress that we are not angry with the Government, just disappointed because it has neglected us. The Government seems to be more concerned about the illegal immigrant than the locals as from what we can see, the resettlement villages for the refugees are provided with all the basic infrastructure such as water and electricity,” he said. Fellow community leader Saimah Salam disclosed that about 30 percent of the villagers are living in abject poverty, some with no source of income. Their daily meal consists of watery plain rice porridge and if they are lucky, they might have some fish. Those who were lucky to have registered for aid from the Welfare Department receives RM60 monthly but the money does not go far. “The learning environment in schools is also not conducive because without electricity during the day, the students have no access to the educational programmes on television or radio. They have no access to computers too,” she said, adding that students who want to study at night will have to do so using oil lamps or candles.