Sunday, September 8, 2013

Impian Sarawak: Road to a Better Future

Yes, DAP has started one of the most important efforts for GE 14 - Go Rural Sabah and Sarawak. We are still at the early stage of the project and a number of us have been tasked to pioneer it.  We'll start with Sarawak first as the state election is in 2 years' time. The project is called "Impian Sarawak". To me, the works in Sabah and Sarawak is more than just winning votes, its about building a nation with equal right and equal opportunity to everyone regardless of race, religion, income and geography. For more information about Impian Sarawak campaign, visit us at:

I made my visit to Sarawak native settlements 2 weeks ago. Kampung Sait is one of the native settlements I visited. It's a Bidayuh village, 40 minutes drive from Kuching to the village walking entrance followed by 2 hours walk to the village (there is no road that can be used by automobiles). 

For many of us who used to parking our cars just outside of our houses, it is probably hard to imagine having to walk 2 hours everyday just to get home. 

This is me on the way to Kampung Sait. 

Taking some rest here before continue on the journey. You see me smiling in the picture, but in my heart I had been asking "are we there yet?" many many times. :) :) 

Before I came to Sarawak, Kar Lye, who is the coordinator for DAP Sarawak projects, told me that I was arranged to go to a village that required me to walk 2 hours. Although I am not really a sport person, 2 hours walk was not a big deal, not until I saw this bridge half-way. 

It’s a traditional Bidayuh bridge made of bamboo that’s hanging between 2 big trees at the 2 sides of the river. There were two of these hanging Bidayuh bridges on the way to Kampung Sait. The longer one was about 100m long and 100ft above the river!

For a height phobia like me, it was excruciatingly frightening!  God knows, my legs shook in fear but I had no choice but to overcome it.  Here are some of the scenes we saw on the way in and out of Kampung Sait. 

While I was crossing the hanging bridge, this came to my mind: many city people pay a premium to do extreme sport or jungle trekking to get similar experiences, but the villagers here have to go through this journey every day in order to earn enough to pay for their daily expenses

What an irony. 

Another stark comparison: why is there wide tarred government-funded road leading to Borneo Height, where the rich and the connected have their bungalows for vacation, but people in many native settlements in Sarawak are still deprived of even simple roads?

This is pure injustice.

Here’s auntie Ria, who was sick and at emergency condition last month, and had to be carried down by his son Johari to the nearest hospital. Imagine carrying a person at your back and cross the Bidayuh bridge! No joke. Fortunately, she was admitted to the hospital in time.

What about this 4 year old little girl Veronica? She was following me everywhere when I was at Kampung Sait. ;)

When she get to school age, will she have to go through the same fate as her sisters - to walk so far to get to school? How will she be able to catch up with her study compared to her peers who live in town?

Above all,  how we as Malaysians, can do our part to ensure that little children at rural area of Sarawak like Veronica can be someone they dream themselves to be as long as they work hard? 

You may wonder if the elected representative ever visited the village. Yes, during the election campaign. BN candidate fly here every election with helicopter and land at the helipad shown at this picture (where the man stand). Fyi, every helicopter flight from Kuching to Kampung Sait costs RM 15,000! Of course, every time they come, they bring along election goodies so the villagers will continue to vote for them. 

Here are some of the pictures of Kampung Sait. 

This is the house of the village chief. 

No phone nor 3G coverage at Kampung Sait, this is a picture of me trying very hard to get phone reception. I gave up later. :) 

Look at how engrossed my PA, Lydia was when she finally got 3G line on the way out! :) 

The food in the village taste really like FOOD! Very organic, loving every bit of it! 

Some light moment with the villagers over Bidayuh style barbecue in the evening. It was simply awesome!

Here, we hold serious discussion session over dinner with the village leaders regarding the needs of Kampung Sait. 

I asked the leaders what was their most urgent need among the 3 basic needs they were deprived of - water, grid electricity and roads. All of them said clean running water.  

(The Government directed the whole Kampung Sait to relocate to higher ground to make way for Bengoh Dam, which would serve as a water reservoir to the nearest town. Ironically, it is this group of villagers who is most affected by the construction of Bengoh who have no access to the running water provided by the dam! Bengoh Dam cost about RM60 million to build and a gravity fed water system that can provide running water for every household in Kampung Sait only costs about RM20,000. This is pure injustice.)

I thought to myself, if this was a Pakatan Rakyat state, the ADUN can easily distribute the state allocation to fund this project just as the many allocations that I've given in Damansara Utama. Unfortunately, Sarawak is NOT a Pakatan Rakyat state. 

Since this was our study and exploration tour for Impian Sarawak campaign, I didn't promise the village leaders that we'll be able to raise enough fund for the water project. Someone told me later that the villagers thought the project was not going to happen since I didn't promise it. From their past experience, Barisan Nasional promised them many things but deliver little and now I didn't even promise anything, so they had really little expectation. 

Anyway, they didn't show their disappointment and were still very hospitable to me (I only knew their thought after coming out from the village). Here's the picture of the host family and I with a DAP flag that they prepared for the photo!  Fortunately, we have obtained enough fund for the project now and it is going to start in mid-Sept as our first Impian Sarawak project. 

After decades under the Barisan Nasional, our fellow Malaysians in Sarawak are still living without the most basic needs of life - water, electricity and roads. When the government fails us, we cannot sit back and watch. I would like to encourage all Malaysians to support "Impian Sarawak", to stand up and be the change you want to see in the country. Below are what you can do to make "Impian Sarawak" a reality. Please also help us to share with all of your friends about this campaign. 


We need more financial support from the public and NGOs so we can continue to do similar projects in many areas across Sarawak. One gravity fed water system, which cost RM20k, can give the whole village clean running water. One simple road, which is about RM30k-RM50k depending on the distance, can be a matter of life and death. No matter how little we can contribute, let's do our part as concerned Malaysians. I believe when all of us can contribute together, we are going to change many people's lives in Sarawak. And with that, the change we dream about will finally come. 

You can contribute to fund Impian Sarawak projects either through online or offline: -

1. Online Donation

Maybank2U or online banking to DAP Maybank account: 5141 7814 5866 (DAP Malaysia)



2. Offline Donation

Write check payable to "DAP Malaysia" and post it to the following address:
Attention to: Impian Sarawak Campaign
55M, Jalan SS21/1A, Damansara Utama,
47400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Tel: 016-8782472

Bank in check or cash direct to DAP Maybank account: 5141 7814 5866 (DAP Malaysia)


Under Impian Sarawak, we also seek to foster mutual understanding between the urban and rural Malaysians, so we've started a volunteer program too.  

Our first project is to build gravity fed water system at Kampung Sait. Like all the rural projects, this project will be done in gotong-royong style among the villagers. The volunteers will join the villagers in their gotong-royong either 28 Sept - 6 Oct (9 days) or 3 Oct – 6 Oct (4 days). 

As all of our funds will be allocated to running the project, volunteers will be required to pay for their own flights. On top of that, we will charge contribution fees of RM200 to cover the volunteers’ transportation, insurance, food and accommodation during their stay in Kampung Sait. 

For more information about the volunteer program:

To apply as a volunteer:

Recruitment deadline for Kampung Sait project: 21st September 2013. 

Note: We c
an only accept a limited number of volunteers due to logistic challenges and therefore not all applicants will be accepted.

Together, let us make a difference in our land. Selamat Hari Malaysia!