From left, Pemanca Umek Jeno, Donny Dian - Uma Juman headman and PNA president Salim Pai

The appointment of Liwan Lagang, the only Orang Ulu in the new state Cabinet line-up, surprised many people in his Belaga constituency.

Several Belaga community leaders contacted by The Star yesterday said they were both surprised and grateful of the appointment.

“It’s been a while that we have had an Orang Ulu from Belaga in the Cabinet.

“He is only months into his second term as Belaga assemblyman, so we were pleasantly surprised when the Chief Minister announced his appointment, said pemanca Umek Jeno, a Kayan community leader from Uma Daro in Sungai Asap.

Umek said that Liwan’s hands-on approach to solving peoples’ problems in his constituency went down well with the state’s leadership.

“It shows the recognition the state leadership has accorded to the Orang Ulu community for their support to the Barisan Nasional government in the recent state election,” he said.

Punan National Association president Salim Pai said that Liwen had proven his abilities in discharging his duties as a representative of the Belaga people.

“He has shown his ability in working for the people with the state leadership. He has earned their trust and they have rewarded him with bigger responsibilities.

Salim said the Punan communities had high hopes on Liwen, particularly in bringing more development to people downstream from the Bakun hydroelectric dam.

“We congratulate him and pledge our undivided support for him to lead the Belaga people for many more years,” he said.

Uma Juman headman Donny Dian Talik said that Liwan had brought a lot of changes and development to Belaga.

“He has been working hard at resolving a lot of problems we faced in Sungai Asap, including land and compensation issues,” said Donny.

Liwan’s appointment was very timely and most welcome by the Orang Ulu in Belaga, said Donny.

“We hope he can do a lot more to help the Belaga people in his new capacity,” he added.