Sarawak Energy Sets Up Batang Ai Special Fund

KUCHING: Sarawak Energy has set up a special fund to reach out to the community especially children at Batang Ai, the site of the state’s first hydropower project.

It contributed RM200,000 to kick start the Batang Ai special fund, which is under the management of Bakun Charitable Trust following a memorandum of understanding (MoU) sealed yesterday.

Signing the MoU on behalf of the Trust was chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing, who is also Deputy Chief Minister while Sarawak Energy was represented by group chief executive officer Sharbini Suhaili.

The function also saw Sarawak Energy handing over a RM200,000 cheque to Masing for the Belaga-Penan education fund, also managed by the Trust.

It marked the third consecutive year that the corporation had contributed to the education fund for the community in Belaga affected by the Murum hydroelectric plant.

Masing was glad that the Batang special fund was started even after the Batang Ai hydropower project was completed 34 years ago.

Some people asked why 34 years later? I say it’s better late than never. And this Batang Ai special fund will start from 2018, he said at the signing ceremony at Menara Sarawak Energy here.

According to Masing, the Belaga-Penan education fund has encouraged Penan children to go to school on a regular basis.

He said the Trust had decided to give incentives to Penan children who maintained good attendance as a means to motivate them to learn, which had led to positive outcome with the attendance rate increasing to over 80 per cent from below 40 per cent.

It is working as the attendance is now 80 to 90 per cent. We have to pay them to go to school, he said, disclosing that the Trust spent RM55,000 every year on this purpose.

It is learnt that there are two primary schools with over 300 pupils in Belaga where the community is directly affected by the Murum hydroelectric project.

A statement issued by Sarawak Energy at the signing said the Batang Ai special fund will be replenished yearly with the collaboration to be reviewed after three years.

The corporation established the fund with the aim of enhancing the quality of learning among children in the area so as to motivate them to pursue tertiary education for better employability.

Schools that stand to benefit from the fund are SMK Lubok Antu, SK Nanga Delok, SK Ulu Engkari, SK Nanga Tibu, SK Sbangki, SK Skarok and SK Batang Ai.

In his address, Sharbini said Sarawak Energy was committed to developing strategic initiatives and partnerships that would help drive capability development in the state particularly in areas and communities affected by its projects.

He said the Murum Penan Literacy Programme had benefited some 400 adults from the Penan community in Murum.

They are now able to perform simple reading, writing and numeracy, he said, adding that the programme was also replicated in Baram to benefit the Penan communities there.

On the ongoing construction of Baleh hydroelectric plant, Sharbini said Sarawak Energy was working with the Kapit community to ensure that they benefit from the project.

We collaborate with training institutions to implement a special capacity building programme for about 500 youths from Kapit, in particular from Baleh, to undergo various technical skill courses to obtain certificate for employment.

Also present was Assistant Minister of Industries and Investments and Batang Ai assemblyman Malcolm Mussen Lamoh.

Source: The Borneo Post