Monday, 19 November 2012

Build us roads, not dams, say natives

G Vinod | November 19, 2012

Sarawak-based NGOs want the state government to put a halt to all dam projects.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Baram Dam project will destroy the heritage and livelihood of natives on the pretext of development for Sarawak, said a NGO.

Phillip Jau, chairman of the Baram Protection Action committee, said the state government must put a stop to the construction of the project.

He said this after submitting a memorandum to DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng at the old Parliament lobby. Also present were MPs Fuziah Salleh, Charles Santiago and John Fernandez.

“We are not against development but we don’t want this dam. We love our homes and rainforests. Build us roads like the ones in KL and we can bring progress to ourselves,” he said.

The Baram Dam, which is still in the planning stages, is set to flood an area of 412 square kilometres, affecting the lives of more than 20,000 people living in that area.

Among the tribes that would be most affected are the Kenyah, Kayan and the Penans.

Natives’ consent not sought

Save Sarawak Rivers chairman Peter Kallang urged the government to scrap all 12 dam projects mooted under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) programme.

He also said that the Baram and the Murum dam projects were proven to have violated international standards on the treatment to indigenious people.


“And Malaysia is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

“The Penans and the Kenyah people had clearly stated that their consent was not sought by the authorities prior to approving the dam project,” said Kallang.

He also said that the Sarawak state government had not even informed the communities on their resettlement plan if the Baram dam is constructed.

“So we demand the government to resolve all this outstanding issue. The government must also abide by the people’s decision should they oppose the dam project,” said Kallang.

Meanwhile, Lim said that Pakatan Rakyat MPs were in support of the natives’ demands as the project is affecting the latter’s livelihood and heritage.

“It’s obvious the project is to profit a select few, not the people of Sarawak as a whole,” he said.

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