More people from Baram voiced opposition to the proposed Baram Dam

25 June 2012

For Immediate Release

MIRI – More than 200 people from Baram District as well as supporters from outside the district thronged into Telang Usan Hotel, Miri yesterday afternoon to participate in an open dialogue opposing the proposed Baram Hydro-electric Project.

The dialogue, which was jointly organised by Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) and the Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC), is by far the biggest gathering of people from Baram who are living in and around Miri either for employment or studying.

“We did not expect the crowd to be this big, and I am truly flattered by the overwhelming support the participants of the dialogue gave us.” said Peter Kallang, Chairman of SAVE Rivers.

Equally grateful and encouraged by the support given by the participants, Philip Jau, Chairman of BPAC said, “BPAC together with SAVE Rivers and other NGOs and concerned individuals will work harder to get the government to scrap the Baram Dam project.”

During the dialogue, the participants were clearly upset about the Sarawak State Government and Sarawak Energy Berhad’s (SEB) plans to go forward with building the dam and trying to silence the majority of the people who are against it.

In a written statement addressed to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SEB, Mr. Torstein Dale Sjotveit, the participants of the dialogue had stated unanimously that they disagree with these plans and strongly oppose the construction of the dam.

They also disagreed with the statements made by their community leaders headed by Temenggong Pahang Ding, their elected representatives i.e., YB Jacob Dungau Sagan, YB Dennis Ngau and Senator YB Lihan Jok and the President of the Federation of Orang Ulu Association Malaysia (FORUM), Mr. Gerawat Gala, saying which the Orang Ulu community in Baram have agree to the said project.

They were also not pleased with the announcement made by Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu that the resettlement site for the communities affected by the said project has been identified to be between Murum and Bakun, in the Usun Apau region, whereas the said project is still in the proposal stage and no decision had been made on its approval.

The participants refuted the statement made by SEB’s CEO which was published in a local daily last Wednesday which said that only a small number of activists are making ‘noise’ opposing the said project and that the Orang Ulu community are ignorant. However, the participants are claiming that the CEO himself is being ignorant to the concerns and pleas of the people of Baram who are going to be affected by the said project.

They reminded the CEO that a 3 day meeting with the Orang Ulu communities at Long Na’ah village during the dialogue and ‘Mayau Daleh’ ceremony organised SEB and the State Government last April is not the right gauge to say that all the people of Baram have agreed to the said project, as not all the people of Baram were present at that time.

The participants are demanding that the Sarawak State Government and SEB scrap the controversial project with immediate effect and halt all works at the proposed project site immediately and warned SEB and the State Government that they will not hesitate to take the necessary actions if their objections are not heeded.

- END -

Press Statement issued by:
Mark Bujang
SAVE Rivers


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