KUCHING: Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei has charged that Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) has been approving the construction of a multitude of telecommunication (telco) towers in heavily populated areas all over Sarawak.

During a press conference held yesterday at King Wei & Clement Advocates and Solicitors, he said, “It seems like they are doing it for the sake of doing it.”

He felt that SMA owes an explanation to the people as to why approvals are being given unnecessarily and unreasonably.

The government has indicated that funds will be allocated for the construction of telco towers, so he also wondered whether these approvals were a way to spend all the funds prior to the next state election, or whether there is an ulterior motive.

One example of a seemingly unnecessary number of telco towers is the Sungai Maong area where there were eight telco towers within an estimated one-kilometre radius.

Last July 10 Wong visited one of the eight towers, the one at Jalan Jambu (which is still under construction) to hold a press conference with disgruntled residents from around the area.

Wong (left) and Bong (right) hold up the petition of Poh Kwong Park residents.

A number of residents of Poh Kwong Park (also in Sungai Maong area) were also present at the press conference to complain about a telco tower in their neighbourhood.

Again Wong raised the same two questions directed at Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA): Why are so many telco towers built within a relatively small area, and why in residential zones?

“Telco towers should be away from schools and residential houses,” said Wong, citing safety standards recognised by international authorities.

Besides these issues, Wong raised another pressing problem faced by the residents of Poh Kwong Park.

“This telco tower is not powered by the state electrical grid, but it is powered by a generator,” said Wong, explaining that this causes air and noise pollution much to the chagrin of surrounding residents, some of whom are just next to the tower.

He also revealed that of the eight telco towers in Sungai Maong area, three to four are powered by generators.

According to Wong, he has made several attempts to convey these issues to the general manager of SMA Dr Zaidi Razak. He regretted that his efforts had no response and he has been unable to set up a meeting with Zaidi.

During the press conference, he also urged SMA not to play politics.

“If SMA plays politics they will negatively impact the people,” Wong said.

Bong Kui Khiong, who claimed to be a representative of Poh Kwong Park, said that a petition objecting to the telco tower in their midst has been signed by 50 nearby residents who want the telco tower removed, fearing health risks.