by Peter Sibon and Jacob Achoi
|SHRINE AT CAVE’S ENTRANCE: A makeshift shrine at the entrance of the cave at Gunung Tabai.|
KUCHING: Assistant Minister of Planning and Resource Management Mohd Naroden Majais will check a site at Gunung Tabai in Bau to verify reports about a gold rush.
“Since you people (media) have notified me, I will go there on a fact-finding trip to see whether the activity is legal or not,” he told reporters after launching ‘Malaysian Halal Certification Awareness Seminar’ here yesterday.
The visit, he said, would also confirm whether gold was found in the area which is actually state land.
He advised the gold prospectors to apply for proper permits from the Ministry of Planning and Resource Management, adding that those who were mining illegally should stop.
Meanwhile, Bau police chief DSP Vincent Ajeng Laing said a report on the alleged activity had been received and he had dispatched an investigating team to the area.
“Instead of finding gold miners, we found traces of their presence such as clothes, boots, food wrappings and digging tools,” he said.
Vincent said his men also found a shrine near the cave entrance.
He said the matter would be reported to the relevant authorities such as the Land and Survey Department and the Ministry of Planning and Resource Management.
Yesterday, a community leader, who declined to be identified, disclosed that as many as 100 prospectors could be mining round the clock in the area.
He disclosed that the prospectors comprised locals and outsiders.
“As the activity involved only minimal cost, it will definitely continue to attract people to try their luck,” said the community leader.
He said the gold diggers could have stumbled upon gold while searching for bird’s nests in the caves.
Bau District Officer Tom Hem Mijod said a company had been given a licence to prospect for gold in the area but he had no knowledge of any gold rush.
He said if there were any private or individual mining activities in Bau then they could be illegal as no licence had been issued.