Penan predicament: Why is Pakatan KL silent?

K Pragalath | November 6, 2012

Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong wants Pakatan Rakyat to declare its policy on energy and dam construction.

KUALA LUMPUR: A prominent social activist today demanded that the national level Pakatan Rakyat leaders break their silence and disclose the coalition’s energy policy in the wake of growing opposition against the Murum hydroelectric dam project by the Penan community in Sarawak.

Speaking at a press conference here called “Damn the Dams”, Suaram adviser Kua Kia Soong also asked the opposition coalition to state its stand on independent power plants (IPPs).

“What are Pakatan’s policies on the dams? What are its policies on independent power plants? What are its policies on demand management?” asked Kua.

Kua’s posers came in the wake of a Sarawak activist who blogged that only Sarawak Pakatan lawmakers had raised the issue of the Murum Dam and the Penan and Kenyah communities’ ongoing blockade in Parliament.

Kua said that energy policies are vital in ensuring demand is met with adequate supply.

He pointed out that the Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) is currently running a loss as it had to buy electricity from the IPPs at a higher price than its own electricity.

“TNB has to buy electricity from the IPPs at the rate of 0.15 sen per kWj when it sells its own electricity for 0.10 sen per kWJ. On the same note, it has to buy electricity from Bakun Dam at 0.16 sen per kWJ,” said Kua.

At the press conference today, 50 NGOs expressed their support for the 1,600 Penans from eight villagers and from one Kenyah Badeng long house, who have been blocking the entrance to the Murum dan project site.

Although the Penans have been protesting against the project since 2009, they have been blockading the access road to the site since Sept 25.

Amidst this, the Sarawak government had met with the Penan representatives in Kuching but discussions failed with the Penans demanding that the government keep its promises made to them four years ago.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the state government distributed RM4.37 million as payment to 351 families from seven settlements and advised them to use the money to do their “penti pemali” (appeasing rituals for the graves) and to save the balance for their children’s education. The graves will be inundated once the RM3 billion dam is impounded next year. The dam is 70% complete.

The seven affected settlements are Long Malim (Penan), Long Malim (Kenyah), Long Singu, Long Tangau, Long Luar, Long Menapa and Long Murum.


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