Ranau has had a string of elected representatives at state and federal levels over the past 40 years but clean water has remained elusive.
KOTA KINABALU August 15, 2012: A Barisan Nasional MP from Sabah has joined the chorus of criticism against the state government led by Chief Minister Musa Aman for failing to provide piped water to scores of villages in the interior of the state.
Ranau MP Siringan Gubat said villagers in his constituency have been relying on dirty water for their domestic use.
Speaking after a protest last week by some 60-odd villagers, Gubat said: “The people are relying on the water supply from the state-owned agency Rural Development Corporation (KPD) which is only meant for farming. This water is not fit for human consumption.”
He said he was aware that Musa had approved the construction of a new water supply station in Kundasang during a visit to Ranau several years ago, but no work had occurred since then.
“I have also brought up the matter twice in Parliament and was told that the project was still in documentation stage and until today there is still no news about it,” Gubat told reporters here yesterday.
The new plant is expected to provide treated water to several thousand villagers in the district in the foothills of mountain Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site.
Ranau is noted for its hilly topography and is the largest producer of highland vegetables.
Tourism and highland agriculture are the major industries owing to the district’s location at 1,176 metres above sea level.
But last weekend Ranau was in the news, not for its many tourist destinations but the hardship faced by the mostly farming community due to shortage of clean water supply.
Residents from four villages staged a sit-in to highlight what they said was the state government’s “false promises” about providing them water supply, which happens during every election.
‘Impossible that leaders not aware’
For now, the people living in the villages of Kibbas, Paka Satu, Koporingan and Purak Ogis depend on rain as well as bottled water for their domestic use.
Although only the villagers from four kampungs participated in the demonstration, they represent many thousands from other villages in the district who are facing similar problem, said those familiar with the water situation there.
Villagers are enraged that after nearly 50 years since Sabah joined in forming Malaysia, the most basic needs such as clean water supply had not been provided to Ranau whose constituents have always voted consistently for state and federal government representatives.
The mountainous district, which is about 108km from here, has been represented at federal Cabinet level by Ghani Gilong and Bernard Dompok and at state level by ministers such as the late Mark Koding, Ewon Ebin and Masidi Manjun as well as assistant minister Mynoor Ginggor.
Dompok, who has since moved to the Penampang parliamentary constituency from Ranau, is still in the federal Cabinet while Ebin and Masidi are in the state Cabinet.
Villagers said it is “impossible” that their leaders are not aware of the lack of clean water supply because apart from Dompok, the other government representatives have houses in Ranau and Kibbas.
Gubat said the water problem was discussed on Aug 2 during a meeting on Ranau district water supply development and was attended by Ebin, Kundasang assemblyman Joachim Gunsalam and district officer Faimin Kamin and people development leaders from the state constituencies of Kundasang, Karanaan and Paginatan.
Local authorities claim that the water supply problems were caused by water wastage and increased demand due to population growth.
Gubat, however, said he sympathised with those affected as they had been assured of a new water plant to provide for their needs years ago.
The national 2012 Budget provides RM2.1 billion to expand water supply to 200,000 homes in the rural areas of Sabah and Sarawak, while the Sabah government has provided RM458.8 million for the same purpose this year.
Gubat, who was an assemblyman until he contested and won the Ranau MP seat in 2008, is a founder-member of United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Ogranisation (Upko).
Upko headed by Dompok recently suffered a blow when its deputy president and Tuaran MP Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing and vice-president Senator Maijol Mahap deserted the party and threw in their lot with Pakatan Rakyat ahead of the looming general election.