Friday, July 25, 2008

BOUNDARY ISSUE: VILLAGE CHIEFS SAY NOT CONSULTED

Boundary issue: Village chiefs say not consulted

PENAMPANG:

Leaders of the villages affected by the district boundary re-delineation exercise were never consulted on the matter, the Penampang Boundary Action Committee clarified yesterday. In refuting the statement made by Penampang District Chief OKK Yahya Ahmad Shah on Thursday, the committee’s spokesperson Charles Jimis said they were thus informed by the respective village chiefs. “Today we did some fact finding and checked with the ketua kampungs and we were duly informed that contrary to OKK Yahya’s statement, none of them was ever consulted on the matter,” he said. Yahya is therefore sending the wrong message to the people in Penampang, he said in response to Yahya’s statement published in The Borneo Post yesterday. Yahya was quoted as saying, “we had discussed the matter (redelineation exercise) in the presence of Chiefs of the villages concerned and they did not object to it. “Later, through the necessary process, it was approved by the State Secretary. We want the new boundary to stay as it is.,, Yahya also gave the assurance that the residents of the village would not be neglected or discriminated against when they are absorbed into the Putatan district and that their rights would be protected. Jimis, in response to this, said, “Our right is to remain in Penampang and we would like to know in what capacity OKK Yahya is saying that he can assure us of our rights? “By principle, to include these villages in the exercise without prior consultation is already a violation of our rights.” The State Government should disclose to the public what is actually happening, Jimis added. Elected representatives, community leaders and residents in Penampang are up in arms against the redelineation exercise and are urging the State Government to rescind its decision. The State Government, through Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor, has said the matter will be brought up for discussion at the Cabinet level. Hajiji was also quoted early this month as saying that the State Government would review the redelineation exercise following the protest by the affected villagers.Objections were also registered by local leaders including Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department and United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organization (UPKO) President Tan Sri Bernard Dompok as well as former Moyog assemblyman, Philip Lasimbang. Dompok had told reporters, “I am objecting to this (and) I am going to write to all the, Cabinet Ministers about this. I will have to register with the Federal Government my objection that this boundary delineation cannot be in the manner that the State Government has approved.” “Even if Putatan is to be upgraded into a full district, the boundary between Penampang and Putatan must be according to the parliamentary constituency boundaries where villages which are under the Putatan constituency can be under Putatan district and those in the Penampang constituency remain in Penampang district,” he said. On Sunday another dialogue protesting against the exercise was held, this time in Kepayan and Lasimbang, representing Dompok, said, “there is no time frame (to object to the exercise) and we will never give up until we have won.”

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