Open Letter by Baram Youth to Sarawak's Chief Minister
22nd Floor, Wisma Bapa Malaysia
Petra Jaya, 93502 Kuching
Tel: 082 440801
Fax: 082 444566
Because your roots and ancestors are not from the Baram, I know that you can identify with us and can relate to what we are about to write in this letter. Not too long ago, we were unable to stop the destruction and flooding of the people along the Balui River despite of it took every bit of our determination, stamina, and courage to topple that disastrous project. We failed..!
Now, while we are still healing from the battle scars from our encounter with Bakun and the Murum dams, we are yet again facing another enemy the Baram dam that want to wipe us out from our ancestral and relocate us to some places unknown.
Mr Chief Minister, if Baram Dam materializes, we might as well say goodbye to our peaceful, healthy existence, our clean air, our beautiful beaches, our birds and fishes, our lands, our lush greenery the quality of life that is uniquely our own. What will replace our utopia will be the pollution of our rivers, water, land, and air; dirt, oil and soot to sully our landscape; cleared groves; noise instead of birds singing; sickness and respiratory diseases; death and destruction everywhere. Then it will be too late. The die is cast, harm has been done, and there is no turning back.
Even developed countries like in Australia, USA and in almost all European countries they have never succeeded in controlling the ill effects of it hydro electric dams in regardless of the high tech state-of-the-art controlling and monitoring system that they used and despite the efficiency of the men handling them. That’s why these hydro electric dams are being condemned left and right in whichever websites you surf and in whichever research papers you browse against you. But surprisingly, you choose to remain silent.
If you say Baram dam is to bring development to the people, as Dato Jacob mentioned in Borneo Post date 3rd August, “we want – to eradicate poverty, have better facilities, new towns flourishing, new schools being built, water and electricity supplies, clinics and I think this is what the government is thinking,” stressed Jacob to reporters here yesterday after presenting government grants totaling RM251,000 for 17 projects”.
So we ask, “What Baram dam ‘jobs that will improve the economy’ or ‘giving us development’ are you and your elites talking about? How many jobs will be created and how many of the people in the affected long houses will become millionaires? Is that a justifiable exchange for the massive loss of their lives and wanton destruction of their property and environment? Are our lives, our rights to be equated with a few thousand ringgits? Where do justice, righteousness and humane come in because this is a blatant disregard for a person’s right to his life and property?”
What have you, for being the Chief Minister for thirty years learned from the thousands of people who are the victims by the previous dams, Batang Ai, Pelagus, Bakun, Murum and destruction of our NCR lands?
After 30 years of waiting for your proclamation to develop the people of rural areas you have finally granted to destroy us with developments that guaranteed to destroy our cultures, tradition and heritages forever.
Look at what you’ve done to our rights in electing our leaders. You set up law to regulate the appointment and duties of Community Chiefs and Headman and matters incidental thereto" in 2004, which you called "Community Chiefs and Headmen Ordinance, 2004". This law you and legislative assembly has passed, vested the power to appoint the headman of a longhouse unto an "Appointing Authority" whom "the Yang di-Pertua Negeri shall, by notification in the Gazette, designate to be the appointing authority for a chief or headman in respect of the whole State or any administrative area or for any particular community in Sarawak" [Section 3], is a law designed to manipulate our rights, for you to choose the leaders not of our choice. The leaders, headmen who you think easily can be used as your toilet papers. What are you doing Mr Chief Minister?
We’ve been putting so much trust in you, but yet you are the one who is the founder in destroying the core structures of our tradition, our cultures and now you are slowly creeping in to destroy our heritages (Adat Isti Adat), our history and our existence.
It is not what Chief Minister’s duties are supposedly ensured the protection of our country and its people, should be like a wick lamp which draws oil from beneath but gives light to everyone in the form of material well being at the first tier and ultimately spiritual enlightenment as the final goal. But you are not.
As you can see along the years, our Orang Ulu’s prides has been provoked by you and your government and we will only be appeased if and when Baram dam gives up the idea of its construction in our domain. We are saying “NO” to Baram dam and this not negotiable. Although there are few of our Community Chiefs and Headman (Ketua Mesyarakat) and YBs who are in favor of the dam are the misguided souls who get blinded by false gold and your empty promises. Bu their day of reckoning will come, by that time will be too late.
As our chief minister, please ask SCORE to take its electricity sources elsewhere. We don’t want it in Baram, neither do we want it to be built at anywhere in Sarawak. If we fought hard to the Bakun dam, we will fight harder yet to stop anther dam from building in the Baram area because our very own lives and precious land are at great risk.
Mr Chief Minister, we have gathered sufficient research to convince us of the devastating effects of a dam to the environment. We also have statistics to prove that countless people have paid a heavy price with their rights over their NCR lands and their lives.
“Justice is to give to every man his own due.” (Aristotle). This is all we ask, and this is all we want. This is not too much to ask because we do not have much. But for what we are and for the little that we own, it’s our gifts inherited to us by our ancestors, even before Sir James Brooke became Rajah of Sarawak, before you claiming our NCR lands as state lands. It has always been ours anyway, so how can we be wrong to stop you? How can it not be fair and just? Please let us keep our own. Of cause we want development, but not this development that is going to permanently destroying and flooding our Homelands.
Today, we’ve made our own judgments; there’s no other choice, as long as we stay in supporting Barisan National while you are in power, we’ll not see justice. That’s why we are quickly to restore our rights through Pakatan Rakyat government who we believes is capable of putting the state’s interest as priority because the integral part of our struggle to keep democracy and freedom alive.
Let justice and righteousness prevail.
The Baram Youth
Y.A.B Prime Minister Datuk Sri Najib Tun Abdul Razak
Y.A.B. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Sato Haji Muhyddin Mohamad Yassin
His Honorable Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon