SAVE Rivers

SAVE Rivers

Monday, 28 May 2012

PKR Baram: Unfair to decide for folk affected by Baram Dam

Roland Engan

MIRI: PKR Baram branch believes it is most unfair for other party to make arbitrary decision for the people affected by the proposed Baram Dam project.

It was announced in the media by FORUM president Gerawat Gala and Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu last week that the people in Baram had agreed to the construction of the Baram Dam.

“We believed that Gerawat and Jabu were merely expressing their personal views on the subject,” said PKR Baram branch deputy chairman Roland Engan in a press statement received here recently.

He stressed on the importance of going to the grounds to gauge the real sentiments of the affected people like what he and his team did from May 12 to 17.

“Their statements do not reflect the actual situation on the ground. That’s what they told us when we visited them last week,” said Roland a lawyer based in Kuala Lumpur.

He is a Kenyah from Long Jeeh one of longhouses to be affected by the construction of the dam. He said that from his visit, he said that people in upper Baram expressed resistance to the proposed dam, contradicting claims of support made by Gerawat and Jabu.

“What I want to ask is this, When did FORUM hold their EGM to discuss such an important issue like Baram Dam?”

Roland challenged those in favour of the dam project to actually go to the grounds and go to every longhouse, instead of taking the easy way out by making announcement of support for the project through an NGO and a few politicians.

“We will be going around again to collect signatures of those who are against the project,” he said.
‘NO’ TO PROPOSAL: Orang Ulu community leaders show their disapproval of the Baram Dam. At second left is Dr Teo.
MIRI: The government was yesterday told that Baram needed a good road instead of a hydro electric dam.

In a press conference held at PKR Miri office here, Orang Ulu community leaders Ketua Kaum (KK) Bilong Oyau from Long Sait, KK Balang Toi from Long Lamam, KK Ramat Teliap from Long Murung, KK Sia Ngadau from Long Kerong, KK Yesaya Arah from Long Ajeng, KK Uyo Arah from Pengaran Kelian and KK representative Thomas Pelutan from Long Sbigen said they were strongly against the building of the proposed Baram Dam.

Miri PKR chief Dr Teo Yu Keng was present to hear their grouses.

According to Thomas, not a single longhouse in upper Baram wanted the dam to be built.

He said those who claimed to represent Federation of Orang Ulu Associations Malaysia (Forum) in supporting the dam project were not from the affected longhouses.

“We don’t want to flood our longhouses, flood our farms and we reject the dam but want the government to build a good road,” said Bilong, adding that the road would benefit the people more than the dam which would submerge their longhouses and properties.

Ramat meanwhile said the group had gone to Kuching to brief state PKR chief Baru Bian on their grievances.

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Participants of workshop in Long San strongly oppose the proposed Baram Dam Project

LONG SAN, BARAM – About 60 participants, representing their respective villages from Upper Baram, Patah, Akah and Silat rivers strongly voiced their objection to the proposed Baram Hydro-electric Dam Project after attending a 11/2 day workshop organised by Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) at Long San village.

The workshop, entitled “Empowering the Community to Assert their Rights”, objective is to educate the communities affected by the proposed dam project on their fundamental rights under the Federal Constitution, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the concept of Native Customary Rights (NCR) under the Sarawak Land Code.

The workshop also touched on the topic of good governance, government policy on customary land development and encouraged the participants to voice out their concerns and demands with regards to the proposed dam project.

SAVE Rivers is happy to note the positive response to the workshop which began last Thursday evening (17 May) and ended on Saturday (19 May).

During the group discussions, most of the participants raised the issue of not being consulted by the relevant authorities or from Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) and their consultants.

The participants were also angry with the way their community leaders, elected representatives and Senator Lihan Jok are “bulldozing” their way through with the said project and lying to the public that the people of Baram have accepted it.

Equally appalling to the participants of the workshop is when they found out through the local media that Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu announced that the resettlement site for the affected villagers have been identified somewhere near Murum and Bakun area when only a few weeks ago, Senator Lihan was quoted as saying that the proposed dam is still a proposal and the decision to approve the said project is still pending.

From the outcome of the workshop, the resolution made by the participants are:

1) They strongly oppose the proposed Baram Hydro-electric Dam Project and demand that the project be scrapped;
2) They demand that all the survey and drilling works done by SEB or their contractors or their agents be stopped immediately;
3) They want their voices to be heard and their rights to be respected;
4) They totally disagree with their community leaders or community associations such as the Federation of Orang Ulu Association Malaysia (Forum) which says that the people of Baram have already accepted the proposed dam project;
5) They do not want people who are not affected by the proposed dam project to make statements and decide on behalf of their community;
6) They do not want their customary lands, crops, properties, burial grounds, and ancestral sites to be flooded;
7) They do not believe that the proposed dam project will benefit them as the issues of Batang Ai, Bakun, Bengoh and Murum have yet to be resolved by the authorities; and
8) They demand that community leaders who are only interested to listen to their political masters and not the voices of the people to resign immediately

The participants have also signed a protest letter and will forward it to SEB and the relevant authorities.

SAVE Rivers will continue to conduct workshops and roadshows throughout Baram District to educate the people of the proposed dam project.

The villages that were represented were Long San, Long Liam, Long Na’ah, Long Selawan, Long Anap, Long Selatong Dikan, Long Selatong Tanjung Tepalit, Long Tap, Long Je’eh, Long Beku, Long Bee, Long Apu and Long Moh.

- End -

Press Statement issued by:
Peter Kallang
Chairman, SAVE Rivers

Stop Baram Dam - Dahulukan Rakyat

Who is Jabu to represent us?

Monday, 21 May 2012

Baram folks want Community Leaders to resign if they won’t listen to the people and proceed to support the Baram Dam

MIRI – About 40 people from Baram are calling for their community leaders to resign from their respective post if they are not interested in listening to the voices of the people who oppose the proposed Baram Dam project.

The group headed by Stephen Satie and Dominic Langat (left) made the call after having a meeting at Telang Usan Hotel, Miri to discuss about the latest statement made by The Federation of Orang Ulu Association Malaysia (Forum) in the Borneo Post last Friday (18 May) headlined “Community support for Baram Dam”.

“We want our community leaders to listen to our voices and not just listen to the politicians. We put our trust on our community leaders to look after our rights and interests and it is their responsibility to look after the well being of their community. If they are not capable to carry out this responsibility and are only interested to carry out the orders of the politicians, then they must resign,” said the concerned Oran Ulu group jointly.

The group were visibly upset with Orang Ulu community leader Temenggong Pahang Ding, Forum’s President Gerawat Gala and Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu for making sweeping statements insinuating that the community in Baram have collectively agreed with the proposed dam without first verifying with all the 26 longhouses that are going to be affected directly.

Dorus Katan (right), of Long Tap which is one of the villages that is going to be directly affected, said that Forum’s claim are baseless and they do not have the mandate of the people of Baram to make such statements.

“We the people of Baram do not agree with this project and I wonder how Forum came to such conclusion when I, myself and my own community were not consulted,” said Dorus.

Michael Lahang  (left) of Long Julan, another village which is also directly affected, concurred with Dorus Katan and said that Temenggong Pahang, Senator Lihan Jok, Gerawat Gala and Alfred Jabu do not represent the people that are directly affected and they should not be making any decisions that affect the interest of the people directly affected.

“Who are they to talk about our interest? They are not even from the area affected but yet they are the ones making statements on behalf of us,” said the visibly upset Michael.

- End -

Press Statement issued by:
Dominic Langat,
Chairman, JKKK Long Tungan

Hydro Tasmania admits compliance deficits in Malaysian dam constructions

18th May 2012 – for immediate release

Andrew Pattle, project director of the Baram, Baleh and Murum dams, says “safety and environmental compliance are not given much importance” in Sarawak – Bruno Manser Fund asks Hydro Tasmania to cut its business ties with the corrupt Taib government

(KUCHING, MALAYSIA / HOBART, AUSTRALIA) Andrew Pattle, the Australian project director of three dam projects in the rainforests of Malaysian Borneo said that “safety and environmental compliance are not given (…) much importance” with dam-building in Malaysia. Pattle’s astonishing statement, which he made in Hydro Tasmania’s latest annual report, has been highlighted yesterday by Sarawak Report, a well-known whistleblower website.

Pattle, a long-term Hydro Tasmania executive, is currently “on secondment from Hydro Tasmania to Sarawak Energy Berhad” in order to help the Sarawak state government realize a highly controversial dam program. He has recently become the project director of the 1,250 MW Baram and Baleh dam projects and was, until October 2011, project director of the 944 MW Murum dam construction, a dam whose Environmental Impact Assessment report and whose financing have never been disclosed to the public.

Hydro Tasmania’s involvement in Sarawak is very questionable, not only for the Sarawak government’s failure to meet basic transparency standards but also because of a very significant corruption risk. After Rio Tinto Alcan’s recent withdrawal from an aluminium smelter plan in Sarawak, personal interests of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud are believed to be the main driver behind the continued dam building frenzy in Sarawak. Taib, whose family has multi-billion dollar business interests in over 400 companies in 25 countries, is currently under investigation by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission.

Last week, Australian Greens MP Kim Booth announced he was seeking an internal review with Hydro Tasmania for the company’s refusal to disclose details on its subsidiary Entura’s involvement in the Sarawak dam program. Hydro Tasmania is 100%-owned by the Australian state of Tasmania.

The Bruno Manser Fund is very concerned that a publicly-owned Australian company is actively involved in the Sarawak government’s socially and environmentally devastating dam program. The Bruno Manser Fund calls on Hydro Tasmania to cut its business ties with the highly corrupt Taib government with immediate effect.

– Ends –

Sources used for this release:
- Press release by the Australian Greens MP Kim Booth, 8th May 2012

Sign the online petition against the disaster dams in Sarawak:

Please consult us for further information:
Bruno Manser Fund, Socinstrasse 37, CH-4051 Basel / Switzerland,
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74. Follow us on twitter: @bmfonds

What Is Damn Well Going On?! – Australian Greens Query Hydro-Tasmania’s Sarawak Projects

Posted Thursday, May 17th, 2012

This post is also available in: Malay

The Green Party in Australia is demanding explanations from Hydro-Tasmania about what exactly its subsidiary Entura is up to in Sarawak?

Investigations by Sarawak Report have revealed that Entura, which acts as a consultancy arm of the publicly owned company, has become deeply involved in a whole range of projects linked to Taib’s plan to flood Sarawak with 12 new dams over the coming years.

Speaking yesterday in Tasmania’s State Parliament, the Greens’ Energy Spokesman, Kim Booth, criticised the failure by Hydro-Tasmania to provide proper disclosure about these controversial ventures, which involve flooding huge areas of the Borneo Jungle and displacing hundreds of thousands of native people.

We have already disclosed that Entura have taken on the management of the inundation of the new Bakun Dam, for example, advising on safety issues and the structure of the Dam.

Hydro-Tasmania has also acknowledged that Entura has taken up further consulting contracts relating to the Murum, Belaga, Pelagus and Metjawa dams.

However, Sarawak Report can now further reveal a far more extensive involvement by Hydro-Tasmania in Taib Mahmud’s SCORE (Sarawak Corridor of Energy) projects.

In particular, the current construction manager in charge at the Murum Dam, where the first two years of construction were kept a closely guarded secret, is in fact a staff member on loan from Hydro-Tasmania itself, Andrew Pattle.

Read more here

Listen to the voice of Baram

VOICES OF BARAM: Anthony (left) and Ding.

MIRI: The government must listen to the voices of people affected by the Baram Dam project, especially elderly folks and residents in Baram who have much to lose.

Some RM5 billion is to be spent constructing Baram Dam, which will lead to a loss of homes, buildings, landmarks and good agricultural land besides Baram River.

“The government must listen to the voices of those affected by the Baram Dam, and not claim to speak for all of them,” said a former four-term Baram councillor Anthony Lawai Karing, 72, recently.

Anthony comes from Long San which is the heart of the Kenyah homeland under threat of destruction from the mega dam project.

He lamented the potential loss of his clan’s properties in Long San which included businesses like lodging house, canteen, MAS ticketing agent office, and his PBB service centre when he was a councillor and PBB Baram information chief.

Irreplaceable and priceless landmarks like the two-storey historical fort of Long Akah built in Rajah Brooke’s era near the Baram River are also threatened.

“Where can we go, if the dam is allowed to destroy our land and buildings?” asked Anthony who wondered how the government would relocate so many people estimated at 20,000, and compensate them for their sacrifices and heavy losses.

He is concerned that with so many affected, there are few options for them to be relocated as the remaining places are either occupied by other communities like the Penans, or are too hilly and rocky to plant anything.
“Already the Penans have hinted that we will not be welcomed to share their lands should we be forced to go elsewhere, which may even lead to fights or disputes, or worse, bloodshed,” he said.

He pointed out that Long San’s population had increased from 200 to about 800 people since 1950 when the Orang Ulu community first embraced Catholicism.

“We must think of our expanding population when relocating to other places in Baram,” he said.
Anthony hoped the government would not force them to move out without their consent and feedback, which would cause much unhappiness. That could translate into loss of confidence and support for the government.

“We are directly affected by the Baram Dam – the government cannot simply ignore our voices, and claim to represent us,” he added.

Meanwhile ex-Penghulu Tama Paya Ding, 87, from the Kayan community of 60-door Long Naah on the Baram Dam construction site, recalled being stopped from addressing fellow villagers in his longhouse during a function organised for Senator Lihan Jok.

Born on Aug 4, 1924, Ding had served 30 years as penghulu of Long Naah before retiring five years ago.
He felt it was disrespectful of Lihan to take the microphone away from an elderly leader like him just when he was about to speak on an important matter like the Baram Dam.

Ding was told to speak to Lihan in private later, which suggested the government was only interested in telling villagers what to do, and not listening to what they have to say, he said. Despite old age, Ding is still active and would occasionally stay with close relatives in Taman Tunku, Miri, if not with his children in Long Naah.

Committee wants Baram Dam scrapped

LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE’S VOICE: (Back row from second left) Peter and Philip joined by others in holding a peaceful demonstration concerning Baram Dam at the venue where a closed door meeting was held for the project.

MIRI: The Baram Protection Action Committee is appealing to both the state and federal governments to scrap the proposed Baram hydroelectric dam project.

Its chairman Philip Jau claimed that the majority of the people from 26 villages affected by the project opposed it.

“Only certain village headmen and community leaders have agreed to the proposed dam. They have not been fully briefed on its advantages and disadvantages.

“If our community leaders, our Temenggong and penghulus, cannot defend our rights then they should resign. That is why we insist on seeing them here, including Senator Lihan Jok,” Philip told reporters on Friday.

Philip and Peter Kallang, chairman of SAVE Rivers Network, were among a score of people from Baram who demonstrated peacefully at the compound of Miri Resident’s Office before a scheduled meeting on the proposed dam.

The meeting venue, which was later shifted to the nearby Miri City Council, was chaired by Lihan, who is the chairman of the Consultative Committee for the proposed dam.The meeting was attended by community leaders from Baram, and representatives from Sarawak Energy Bhd, Miri Resident’s Office and relevant government agencies.

Peter and his group did not get the chance to meet Lihan.

Meanwhile, Peter claimed that letters of appeal from them and those opposing the dam had been sent to the relevant authorities, but they had not received any response so far.

“We have been writing so many letters. We have written to the prime minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) and Philip has handed personally the letter to Najib when he was in Long Banga, and both of us have given it personally to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Muhyiddin Yassin when he was in Lapok. We have also written a letter to Sarawak Energy Berhad.”

Peter alleged that the government had failed to disclose all information concerning the proposed dam, and appealed to the government to listen to the voice of the people.

“In any case, we have studied up to 50,000 dams that have been built in the world, and there are only one or two cases where the people are satisfied with the resettlement arrangements.

“If you have one or two chances out of 50,000, that means the chance that you are going to fail is more than sure as far as the Malaysian government is concerned.

“So, the government must consider the people first … after all the slogan of 1Malaysia is People’s first, action now.  We strongly agree with the slogan, but (the government) must abide by the slogan. It should not just sound good on radio or television.”

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Dam will turn Baram into ’1Malaysia kubur’

28 April 2012

The mayau dalleh ritual held last Saturday to enable the commencement of work on Baram dam may 'backfire' on the government.

MIRI: The majority of the Orang Ulu community leaders in the Baram district are against the construction of the proposed Baram hydro-electric dam but are helpless against the state government and its agencies.

Speaking to FMT, a community leader from Long San Johannes Luhat said the dam will turn Telang usan into a “1Malaysia grave” and will drown their culture, roots and civilisation.

He said that the longhouses of some 20,000 natives from 25 villages, who will be relocated, will be drowned along with 38,900 hectares of their native customary rights (NCR) land.

“The Baram dam will kill our civilisation, our culture and our roots. All our NCR land, pemakai menua, pulau galau, longhouses, churches and schools will be drowned.

“All these things that are so dear and mean so much to us are forcibly taken away from us and will be gone forever.

“Those who are to be resettled will become orang asing [foreigners] at the new place wherever that may be, and the sudden change of life will have unimaginable social and psychological effects,” Luhat said.

“We Dayaks have a strong traditional bond to our lands. Take away them, we are finished. Our forefathers shed blood to keep these lands for us the present generation. Their sacrifices and efforts will be meaningless with the kubur (grave) looming,” he added.

Ritual done for ‘wrong reasons’

Meanwhile, SAVE Rivers Network chairman Peter Kallang said the absence of the majority of leaders from the Kayan, Kenyah and Punan communities from the mayau dalleh ritual ceremony last Saturday clearly indicated their objection to the construction of the dam.

“Out of 43 community leaders from the various ethnic communities invited to witness the mayau dalleh fewer than 10 were present. They told me they do not agree for the dam to be constructed at Nahah Itun Uvek,” said Kallang.

The mayau dalleh is a ritual practised by the Kanyan/Kenyah natives to cleanse the community after it is strucked by a calamity.

Following the ceremony, Kallang had hit out at the organisers, saying that the “ritual was done for the wrong reasons”.

“However, no calamity or disaster has happened in Baram and by going ahead with the ritual, it shows that the delegation does not respect the custom and tradition of the Kayan-Kenyah community,” he said.

According to Kallang, the majority of those present at the ceremony were Rela members, civil servants and officials from other departments and Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB). Leading the delegation was Senator Lihan Jok, the former Telang Usan assemblyman.

“They were there to make up for the numbers as the local people including the community leaders refused to attend,” he added.

Meanwhile, another NGO leader, Philip Jau, has questioned the rationale behind a ceremony that “will destroy” the Baram culture.

“This ceremony has traditionally been held in cases of natural disasters and calamities, but now Sarawak Energy and the government have abused our custom to justify their controversial project,” said Jau, who is the chairman of Baram Protection Action Committee.

DJ disciplined for an act which he never did

I am sad and disgusted to learn that Mr. Jude Juda Anye (JJ) a Kenyah Discs Jockey (DJ) at Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) Miri is being unjustly accused and penalized. I think that it is an unwarranted penalty which is made in a haste; it is a coldhearted and reckless reaction spurred by a simple, one minute phone call which I made to the RTM Kenyah telephone called-in radio programme. From that call JJ was accused of collaborating with my campaign which is against the construction of mega dams in Sarawak. JJ is never a part of my campaign team nor has he ever collaborated with my team in our campaign in any way. We in the SAVE Rivers network respect the position and role of the civil service and thus never invite any civil servant to work with us.

JJ was on duty on the the 20th of March 2012. He was taking phone calls for the programme as usual, when I made my call. Like all others that day, I asked permission while on the air to be allowed to give my message. JJ allowed me to do so. My message on the radio was simple and short, inviting all those from the Baram District to an open discussion. Since I did not give any details of the discussion, there was no way that the DJ could tell what the discussion was about. The invitation was very short, just three sentences. JJ did not have an interview with me as claimed by those who made the accusation. I can get listeners to testify to all what I said on the air that day.

Even though it is very clear from the above mentioned, the administrative authority of the RTM in Kuching and Miri were pressured to take disciplinary action against JJ. The pressure came from politicians joining forces with a senior officer from the State Secretariat.  Knowing the nature of the broadcast and to avoid drastic and permanently damaging action the RTM authority took some measures, which are as follows:

(1)   Taking JJ off the air from the Kenyah section while he could still serve as DJ in the Malay section in RTM Miri.
(2)   Direct phone call-in broadcast on the air for Kenyah section in Miri is now stopped. Messages are now given to and read out by a Kenyah DJ. (Take note that this service is critical for the communities who live in areas without other means of communication.)

However, these measures which are already taken do not seem to be enough to satisfy the rage of one politician and the senior officer from the State Secretariat. Now they pressured the RTM administration to transfer JJ to another town, Bintulu, where there is no Kenyah radio service. He is told to report for duty in Bintulu almost immediately.

JJ is a very popular DJ and much talked about by those who listen to him on the air in the Kenayh broadcast and the Malay service. He is also a popular Master of Ceremony and announcer at functions in and around Miri. He was the pioneer who started the Kenyah Radio Program for RTM. RTM Miri is the first to have a scheduled Kenyah language broadcast ever and anywhere. At the moment RTM has only one other permanent staff serving in the Kenyah section. JJ’s transfer will be a lost for the Kenyah community as a whole, particularly those in the rural areas. JJ’s signature slogan now popular throughout the Miri Division is “Bichem Bichem”.

It is so sad that the politicians and the officer from the State Secretariat who put the pressure on the RTM administration are of Orang Ulu ethnics. The Kenyahs who with JJ are losing out due to this are also of the Orang Ulu group. The zeal of the people concerned for the so called disciplinary action is a clear case of abuse of power; it is done without the required procedure. On behalf of JJ and our Kenyah community I would like to request the politicians and civil servants to act with caution and be more humanely in their work. Above all, politicians should not interfere with the administration of government just like the government servants should not be involved with active politics. If the politicians have the wellbeing of the people in their hearts they should withdraw all the actions taken against JJ, which affect the Kenyah community as a whole and Miri RTM radio listeners in general.

Peter N. J. Kallang
Chairman SAVE Rivers.
H/phn: +6013 833 1104