Wednesday, 27 June 2012

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
Secretary,
SAVE Rivers
 



Have licence will log in Sarawak

Ucuk Tugau | June 21, 2012
 
As long as you are a BN crony and have access to a timber licence, Sarawak is yours to log at will, it appears.



KUCHING: Sarawak forests, gazetted or not, are free to be logged. At least that was the impression Second Resources, Planning and Environment Minister Awang Tengah Ali Hassan left listeners with yesterday.

According to Awang Tengah, who many here consider to be Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s key “henchman”, permanent forest estates, water catchment areas, alienated lands, native communal reserves or native customary lands “can be harvested” for timber.

All one needs is a licence or permit, which is not difficult to come by if you’re a Sarawak Barisan Nasional crony.

It puts into perspective the massive deforestation that has and is taking place in Sarawak, in the name of development, which Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) has been fiercely opposing.

BMF has put the blame squarely on Taib’s 30-odd-year leadership and accused him and his cronies of stripping Sarawak of its rainforests and amassing billions of ringgit in wealth.

But, according to Awang Tengah, everything is legit and the law permits such harvesting of timber.
“Those interested must apply for a permit or licence to harvest the timber,” he said.

Citing water catchment areas as an example, he said: “Logging is one of the prescribed activities under the First Schedule of the Natural Resources and Environment (Prescribed Activities) (Amendment) Order, 1997 related to Water Catchment Areas.”

He said all recipients of the timber licence or permit needed to do was to submit a report to the board of Natural Resources and Environment.

“The licensees have to comply with the requirements to mitigate the impact on the surrounding area before they can embark on logging operation,” Awang Tengah said.

He was replying to reporters who asked him about the two timber licences issued by the State Forestry Department to log an area identified as a resettlement scheme for natives who are displaced by the Bengoh dam.

Logging on resettlement scheme legit

The licences were issued to leaders in Taib’s Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) and to BN crony, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) president William Mawan Ikom.

Some 140 angry settlers from Kampung Semadang, Kampung Giam, Kampung Taba Sait, Pain Bojong, Rejoi and Semban had last Sunday gone to the logging site to protest against the exploitation of the area.

Yesterday, Awang Tengah confirmed that the licences were issued and that the Land and Survey Department had verified the veracity of the state land.

“But if the area is found to be within the approved resettlement area for the Bengoh communities, the Forestry Department will be directed to exclude it from the licence,” Awang Tengah said.

His comment is not likely to improve the situation with the natives who have refused to move out of the Bengoh dam reserve and into the resettlement area.

They are alleging that logging activities on their proposed resettlement scheme have damaged the land and made it unfit for farming and had caused massive environmental degradation.

The stand-off is now likely to further disrupt the dam’s construction schedule and costs the government additional millions.

Said Mambong MP James Dawos Mamit, who is also the Bengoh resettlement scheme committee chairman: “All our efforts [since 1997] are wasted… it was not easy to convince them [natives] to leave their homes.

“Now because of the Forestry Department, the government is going to waste time and money if the people refuse to move out… the government will lose millions of ringgit.”

Sham ‘consultations’ with Baram Dam natives

Joseph Tawie | June 21, 2012
 
Sarawak NGO, Save Rivers claims that Baram hydro-electric owners, Sarawak Energy Berhad, is lying about having engaged local natives' views on the project.



MIRI: Local Baram natives attending a three-day community ‘consultation’ programme organised by the Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), the owners of the Baram hydro-electric dam, were told to “shut-up” and not voice their discontent.

A shocked Philip Jau, chairman of Baram People Action Committee, said people were not given a ‘right’ to speak.

“It was very shocking to see that the people were not given the right to be heard.

“We also heard Temenggong Pahang Ding telling the people to be quiet when people shouted their discontent,” said Jau referring to Ding who’s had two police reports lodged against him under native law for misleading his community and making false statement.

Ding had reportedly declared to deputy chief minister Alfred Jabu that Baram residents were ‘fully’ behind the state government plans to build the dam.

Yesterday Peter Kallang, chairman of Save Sarawak Rivers Network (Save Rivers) alluding to Jabu’s infamous ‘suppressing and oppressing’ phrase against the opposition, said SEB were doing the same with the natives, by barring them from voicing their concerns and their anti-dam activities.

He described the SEB initiated ‘consultation’ has a meagre step to engaging the community.

“We [Save Rivers] were there at that so called consultation which was tied to the ceremony ‘Mayau Daleh’ and we were dismayed that the former Penghulu of Long Na’ah was not allowed a chance to speak.

“We witnessed Senator Lihan Jok (chairman of the Baram Hydroelectric Dam Community Development and Consultation Committee) publicly using the public addressing system and telling the former penghulu, not to talk,” Kallang said.

Both Kallang and Jau were responding to a statement by the SEB chief executive officer Torstein Dale Sjotveit.

‘SEB did not consult natives’


Sjotveit had refuted the claim by Save Rivers that the geological studies were done with complete disregard to the people in Baram.

Save Rivers is a coalition of eight local indigenous NGOs, formed in late 2011 to stop the construction of the planned mega-dams in Sarawak, and to promote alternative development needs of the affected communities.

Reacting to Sjotveit, Kallang said: “Save Rivers refutes Sjotveit’s claim that SEB has conducted studies on the area for the proposed Baram dam legally with proper, free and fair consultation of the affected communities.

“It is disappointing that the CEO of SEB thinks that three days in one area, is a sufficient period for an informed consultation with thousands of indigenous peoples who will be severely affected by the construction of the dam.

“Since the news leak of the construction of Baram dam about four years ago, we have been constantly on the ground, visiting over 30 of the affected longhouses, to seek their views on the Baram dam.

“Based on our extensive consultations spanning over three years, we have concluded that most of the inhabitants do not want the dam,” Kallang emphasised.

He said Save Rivers had to date collected thousands of signatures from over 20 affected communities, for a petition saying no to the proposed Baram dam.

These petitions, he said, had been sent to the SEB, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, Jihok, Baram MP Jacob Dungau and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

Jau, meanwhile, added that his group had collected and mailed thousands of postcards to the Taib asking for the dam not to be built.

Sarawak Energy CEO Torstein Dale Siøtveit ridicules indigenous opposition against planned mega dam in Malaysian Borneo

BRUNO MANSER FUND, BASEL, SWITZERLAND
20th June 2012 – for immediate release
 
(KUCHING/MALAYSIA) Torstein Dale Siøtveit, the Norwegian CEO of Sarawak Energy, a state-owned electricity supplier in Malaysian Borneo, is feeling the heat over growing opposition against the planned 1,200 MW Baram dam, a hydro power project that would displace 20,000 Borneo natives from their traditional lands in the Borneo rainforest.

In a statement published today by The Borneo Post, Torstein defended the planned mega dam against criticism by Sarawak’s Save Rivers Network, a coalition of eight indigenous organizations. Earlier this week, Save Rivers lodged a police report against Sarawak Energy over illegal activities by company geologists on native lands. Save Rivers also criticized Sarawak Energy for failing to inform transparently on the dam plans and for exerting pressure against dissidents. During a so-called “dialogue session” with affected locals, Sarawak Energy had prohibited a high-ranking indigenous leader to voice his concerns over the project.

In a press conference held yesterday, Torstein said that indigenous leaders who were opposing the Baram dam were “just making noise“. “Some of them take advantage of the Baram people’s ignorance”, The Borneo Post reported Torstein as having said. The Sarawak Energy CEO confirmed the proposed dam would flood “about 38,900 hectares” and affect “24 villages and longhouses along the Baram River”. After a few hours, the online version of The Borneo Post article was removed from the paper's website.

Despite strong opposition against the dam, Torstein claimed that most of the Baram natives “welcomed us” during a recent visit “and they were curious to know what Sarawak Energy was doing”. He admitted though having seen “13 persons making known their opposition against the dam project”.

The Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) calls on Torstein Dale Siøtveit to apologize for his dismissive remark over the Baram people’s “ignorance” and to comply with international dam planning standards. ”If anyone is ‘ignorant’ over the dam plans, this is a direct consequence of Sarawak Energy’s refusal to release necessary information on the dam such as the Environmental Impact Assessment”, BMF wrote in a statement.

It is widely believed that Torstein’s job is on the line should he fail to sell the Sarawak state government’s controversial dam plans to international investors.

– Ends –

Please consult us for further information:
Bruno Manser Fund, Socinstrasse 37, CH-4051 Basel / Switzerland
www.bmf.ch, www.stop-corruption-dams.org
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74. Follow us on twitter: @bmfonds
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bruno-Manser-Fonds/171047506268040

Sarawak’s natives demand the pull out of German Fichtner GmbH & Co. KG from controversial dam project in Malaysia

BRUNO MANSER FUND, BASEL, SWITZERLAND
19th June 2012 – for immediate release

(BARAM, MALAYSIA / STUTTGART, GERMANY) The consultancy company Fichtner GmbH & Co. KG from Stuttgart has come under international pressure due to their involvement in a controversial dam project in the rainforest of Borneo. In a letter addressed to the company’s founder and chairperson Georg Fichtner, natives from the rainforest of Sarawak are demanding the immediate halt of all activities of Fichtner related to Baram dam.

The Swiss Bruno Manser Fund as well as five other environmental and human rights organizations from Germany and Switzerland support the demand and criticize Fichtner for its close cooperation with power supplier Sarawak Energy, in charge of the implementation of the dam. Sarawak Energy is known for its non-compliance with international social and environmental standards and indigenous rights in the context of the dam project. Copies of the letter have also reached German authorities.

1,200 MW Baram dam would flood a rainforest area of at least 400km2 and displace 20,000 indigenous people. The affected communities have been fighting the construction of the dam with letters and protests. The government of Sarawak, however, denies the local people basic information about the dam and participation, which contravenes international standards such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Fichtner was hired by Sarawak Energy to do feasibility studies for the Baram dam project. Access to the results of these studies has been denied to the affected communities. The local resistance movement, the SAVE Rivers Network, is now directly appealing to Fichtner and wants to bring the non-compliance with international transparency standards to their attention. In addition, the natives point to the already existing power glut in Sarawak, which renders further dams superfluous. The 20,000 affected people vehemently oppose the construction of the Baram dam and the associated resettlement.

The Bruno Manser Fund therefore calls on Fichtner to immediately publish all studies done for Sarawak Energy and to withdraw from the project. Fichtner is jointly responsible for an open and fair information policy towards the affected people and for the acceptance of their rejection of the proposed Baram dam.

Sarawak tribe calls on German company to walk away from controversial dam

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
June 19, 2012


Indigenous people from the Malaysian state of Sarawak have sent a letter to the German company, Fichtner GmbH & Co. KG, demanding that the consulting group halt all activities related to the hugely-controversial Baram dam, reports the NGO Bruno Manser Fund. Critics of the dam and it parent project known as the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiative, say the hydroelectric dam will displace 20,000 people and flood 40,000 hectares of primary rainforest.

Fichtner GmbH & Co. KG has been working as a consulting firm for Sarawak Energy, which is building the controversial dams, including Baram. Fichtner has been completing feasibility studies on the dam, however Bruno Manser Fund says local communities have not been allowed to see the studies. The slate of dam building has brought international attention to Sarawak's indigenous people and government, including a recent petition by Avaaz specifically focused on the Baram Dam.

If built, the Baram Dam is expected to produce 1,200 megawatts. However, Sarawak recently completed the 2,400 megawatt Bakun Dam, which produces double the energy consumed by the state of Sarawak at peak times. Another dam, the 900 megawatt Murum dam, is currently under construction. It was long thought the glut of power being produced by the dams would go to a massive $2 billion aluminum smelter by Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto, but the mining giant recently cancelled the project.

The recently completed Bakun Dam forced the removal of 10,00 indigenous people and flooded 70,000 hectares of rainforest.

Suara Wanita Baram



Suara Wanita Baram membantah pembinaan empangan BARAM.
Kerajaan kata, Rakyat Baram setuju Baram Dam dibina malah Senator Lihan meminta pembinaannya dipercepatkan. "Itu kerajaan yang kata"
Tetapi bila kita tanya rakyat Baram yang akan terjejas oleh Baram DAM, mereka meminta BARAM DAM DIBATALKAN!!

Slow death by aluminum smelters?

As If Earth Matters by Gan Pei Ling | 18 June 2012

WHILE green activists in Peninsular Malaysia are protesting the rare earth refinery that has yet to begin operations in Gebeng, Pahang, villagers living near an aluminium smelting plant in Balingian, Mukah, Sarawak, have been suffering in silence.

Documentary filmmaker and former TV2 producer Chou Z Nam has highlighted the Iban villagers’ plight in four short videos, all available on YouTube, and a report after a field visit in February 2012. Chou is well-known for his documentaries on the Bakun Dam and its impact on local communities. His Bakun Dam documentaries were axed by RTM and he was sacked after disclosing the self-censorship.

How is the aluminium smelting plant affecting the lives of local communities in Balingian? Should we be alarmed at plans for new plants?

The aluminium smelting plant. (Source: unireka.com)
The aluminium smelting plant in Mukah (Source: unireka.com)

Declining health and dying crops

In Chou’s first short video released on 22 March 2012, villager Sandy Dancan, 18, complained of skin irritation and rashes which she has had since 2010. Dancan lives 300m away from the plant owned by Press Metal Sarawak Sdn Bhd.

Another villager, Cynthia Unau, 25, worked as a cleaner at the smelter for six months in 2011. She claimed she fell sick while working there in Chou’s second video released on 24 March 2012.

A simple health survey conducted by Chou and local activist Matek Geram found that villagers from three longhouses located 300m to 2.5km from the factory reported symptoms of breathing difficulties, coughing and dizziness, among others. The affected families say they spend RM150 up to RM500 a month for medical treatment.

It was also observed that plants growing 50m to 200m from the factory including nipah, coconut, sago, banana, oil palm and ferns, were dying.

Farmers living within 12km of the smelter have claimed loss of livelihood as their crops cannot bear fruit, while fisherfolk at Batang Balingian alleged that their catch has dwindled, possibly due to acid rain pollution.

Chou’s documentary also records an unidentified former employee accusing the smelter of only using one out of its three compressors to treat air pollutants including hydrogen fluoride and sulphur dioxide in order to save energy costs. The informant claimed that although the plant was equipped with the required pollution control facility, it wasn’t fully utilised when he was working there.

Press Metal Sarawak refuted these claims in a Borneo Post report published on 8 May 2012. Its human resources general manager, Soh Siew Ong, said the smelter only released clean gas into the air and that no water is discharged from the plant.

Cynthia Unau's testimony as featured in Chou's video clip
Cynthia Unau's testimony as featured in Chou's video

More smelters in the pipeline


While villagers in Balingian are still grappling with the health impact of living near an aluminium plant, at least two new larger smelters are expected to be built in Bintulu.

Press Metal Bhd secured a RM350 million loan in May 2012 from two local banks to finance the construction of its second aluminium smelting plant in Bintulu’s Samalaju Industrial Park. The plant is expected to produce 240,000 tonnes of aluminium annually, double the capacity of the existing Balingian plant.

Smelter Asia, a joint venture between Gulf International Investment Group Holdings Sdn Bhd and Aluminium Corp of China, also plans to build a smelter in the same industrial park, with an even larger annual capacity of 370,000 tonnes.

Aluminium smelting involves a chemical process to extract pure aluminium from its oxide called alumina. But the process leaves behind fluoride pollutants, including the pungent and toxic hydrogen fluoride as well as perfluorocarbons (PFCs), which are far more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide.

In addition, an aluminium smelting plant is an energy guzzler as a high temperature of 970 Celsius is needed to melt the alumina. For example, while the Mukah district consumes two megawatts of electricity per month, the Balingian smelter alone uses up to 200 megawatts a month, according to Press Metal Sarawak. Smelter Asia is also in talks with Sarawak Energy Bhd to secure over 600 megawatts of power supply.

Heed the warning signs

The process of extracting aluminium is an environmental challenge. Yet, aluminium is highly sought after to make vehicles and for food packaging, and is arguably a necessity in modern life. The aluminium industry is one of the primary forces behind the Brazilian government’s plan to dam rivers in the Amazon to meet the industry’s high energy demand. Sarawak seems to be going down the same path with its grand plan to build 12 mega dams despite growing local opposition.

Unlike the case with Lynas, a detailed environmental impact assessment was done for the Balingian smelter. But given the current complaints, the government authorities need to be more proactive in addressing villagers’ complaints on health problems, pollution and dying plants. These are merely warning signs of a potentially larger underlying problem. If, as Press Metal Sarawak claims, no air pollutants have been released by its smelting plant, then what is the real source of pollution in Balingian? Shouldn’t the authorities be investigating?

Taib Mahmud (Wiki commons)

As Chou recommended in his fact-finding report, a more thorough health study needs to be conducted to ascertain the cause of the villagers’ sicknesses. Rainwater and plant samples ought to be collected by the state Department of Environment to find out if they are contaminated with pollutants from the smelter.

The Balingian smelter is located Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s constituency. Surely he wouldn’t want an environmental and public health scandal in his own backyard.

In addition, the Sarawak government ought to rethink its development strategy. Building more smelters may indeed spur the state’s economic growth, but not at the expense of the health and quality of life of the locals, unless the companies are held to strict environmental standards.


Gan Pei Ling thinks more public attention needs to be given to the health and environmental impact of aluminium smelting plants in Sarawak. They certainly deserve equal, if not more, public scrutiny than Lynas.

Bakun Dam rock solid


Aerial view of the spillways at Bakun dam.

KUCHING: Based on world standards, Bakun hydroelectric dam is safe.

That is the finding of four members of the International Independent Review Panel from Brazil, the United States and Malaysia who visited the dam on May 20 this year.

Sarawak Hidro managing director-cum-chief executive officer Zulkifle Osman saidthe finding effectively put to rest all rumours concerning the dam.

“What the report (by the four members) means is that there is no truth about the rumours that the Bakun Dam’s spillways are cracking.

“We have closed the two spillways from Sunday to today (Friday) as requested by Sarawak Rivers Board (SRB) to give way for blasting work to be carried out at Pelagus Rapids,” Zulkifli told The Borneo Post yesterday.

Zulkifle disclosed that many people had called him regarding the low water level at the upper Rajang, especially above Kapit town, and he had told them the reason.

“I would like to thank members of the public for their concern. But rest assure that the dam is safe,” he said, adding that he was grateful to The Borneo Post for its quick response which enabled the rumours to be quashed.

When contacted, a spokesman of Putra Sentosa Enterprise, which has been awarded the contract to blast jutting rocks at Pelagus Rapids, said they had been doing the blasting works since June 4.

“Today we are very happy that we have been able to blast off Batu Wong Nabau which is the hardest of the seven rocks we need to clear for safer river navigation.

He added that Batu Wong Sukat, which is considered the most dangerous rock in the rapids, would be their next target.

He was optimistic that the blasting works could be completed by next month ahead of schedule.
“We would be able to achieve our target if the weather permits.” he said.

Putra Sentosa is using both local and foreign expertise to carry out this task.

Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing had said during the initial blasting works on May 18 that the main reason to blast off the jutting rocks in the rapids was to ensure river safety as many lives, including high-ranking government officials, had lost their lives in the dreaded one km-long rapids.

Masing added that he had recommended the project to the state government two years ago.

“We would also like to assure that the blasting work would not spoil the overall beauty of the rapids as only seven dangerous rocks would be blasted.”

The locals call the seven rocks Wong Lapoh, Wong Nabau, Batu Kawie, Wong Sukat, Wong Tilan, Batu Naga and Wong Pantu.

Unresolved after 14 years



COMING BACK: Eling looking out at the doorway of Luhat’s jelatong. Luhat has cleared the land on the hill behind his jelatong for farming.


SUNGAI ASAP: After almost 14 years, the people of Sg Asap Resettlement Scheme are still clamouring for the fulfillment of promises made to them in return for relocating from their ancestral homes to make way for the Bakun dam.

According to Luhat Tugau, an entrepreneur from Uma Belor, his people had been shortchanged in land allocation, cash compensation, housing materials and awarding of scholarship under the Bakun Trust Fund.

He said if these broken promises were not rectified, Sg Asap Resettlement Scheme could not be considered a model resettlement scheme for other dam projects in future.

Uma said the biggest issue yet to be resolved in the resettlement of his people to Sg Asap was land compensation for each family.

He disclosed that in 1992 before the dam was constructed they were promised 15 hectares per family but before they moved from their homes in 1998, the promised acreage had shrunk to seven hectares.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Forestry Dept brought to task


Police reports against SEB for trespassing and unlawfully doing works for Baram Dam

18 June 2012 

Press Statement
For Immediate Release
 
MIRI – Two police reports were lodged against Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) by a villager from Long Kesseh, Upper Baram and by Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) for illegal trespassing on Long Kesseh’s Native Customary Land and unlawfully starting works on the proposed Baram Dam.

The first report was lodged by Mr. Ding Ngau at the Miri Central Police Station on the 24th May 2012, who complained about an intrusion into the family’s land by a group of workers who were drilling the ground.

“I questioned the workers but I was totally ignored. That is why I made this police report and request the police and relevant authority to take action,” said Ding.

The second report was made by Mr. Peter Kallang, Chairman of SAVE Rivers on 8th June 2012 also at the Miri Central Police Station.

Peter who also hails from Baram, stated in his report that on the 7th June 2012 at about 3.30pm, while on his way back to Miri from Upper Baram, he saw a tent erected at KM8 on Samling’s logging road, not far from Samling’s logging camp at KM10.

Peter together with representatives from Long Na’ah, Long Anap, Long Liam, Long Laput, Long Kesseh, Long San, Long Tungan and other villagers from Baram decided to investigate the tent.

“We were driving down from Ulu Baram to Miri on the Samling Road when we saw a tent.

“We decided to stop and asked the people at the tent, and they said that they were employees of SEB doing geological studies for the proposed Baram Dam,” explained Peter.

In view of so much opposition to the dam, Peter said that the action of SEB starting to conduct geological studies is unlawful and done with complete disregard for the people of Baram.

In the report he stated that the works done by SEB goes against laws like The Sarawak Natural Resources and Environmental (Prescribed Activities) Order 1994 which requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be done and approved before any work is carried out.

The report added that the people of Baram are not aware that any EIA has been done for this project yet.

On 10th June 2012, Mr. Dorus Katan Juman from Long Tap, Upper Baram and on behalf of a group of Baram villagers who called themselves Lepo Telang Usan, made another police report against the Baram Community Chief, Temenggong Pahang Ding Anyi for lying and misleading the public.

In his report, Dorus made the reference to a newspaper article published in the Borneo Post dated 18th May 2012 which were made by the a group of community leaders lead by Temenggong Pahang, complained that Temenggong Pahang told the Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang, that the people of Baram have changed their mind and now welcomed the proposed Baram Dam.

Dorus said the statement by Temenggong Pahang as reported in the article is false and reiterated that the people of Baram still oppose the proposed dam. He gave Temenggong Pahang 14 days (starting from the 10th of June 2012) to withdraw his statement and apologise publicly to the people of Baram for making a false statement about them.

The three police reports made within 3 weeks marked a new twist to the controversies surrounding the proposed Baram dam. Before this, the Baram villagers have been campaigning against the dams with various public demonstrations, signature campaigns, erecting banners along the banks of the Baram River, sending post cards, sending petitions to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Chief Minister and the Chief Executive Officer of SEB.

Workshops and seminars for the people affected by the dams organised by SAVE Rivers have been very well attended. Just last week SAVE Rivers collaborated in organising a prayer event at the dam site and a dialogue session at Long Na’ah. Both the dialogue and prayer session received an overwhelming support.

The Chairman of the Baram People Action Committee (BPAC), Mr. Philip Jau, said “We together with the villagers, NGOs and concerned individuals in the team will continue to campaign so that our plea for stopping the construction of the mega dam is heard by the relevant authorities.”

BPAC is one of the NGOs within the SAVE Rivers coalition.

- END -

Press Statement released by:
Mark Bujang
Secretary, SAVE Rivers

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Dam threathens Turkey's past and future


48-hour ultimatum to stop encroachment

KUCHING: Villagers affected by the Bengoh Dam are giving 48 hours to the relevant authorities to stop the encroachment by a logging company into the land alienated to them near Kampung Semadang.

Bengoh Resettlement Scheme Liaison Committee comprising representatives from the four affected villages; namely Kampung Taba Sait, Pain Bojong, Semban and Rejoi said if the authorities failed to do so they would not move from their villages.

“We want the loggers out and stop the encroachment within 48 hours, or forget about resettling us.

“Whether the company is licensed or not, that is not the issue. The fact is that the government had promised to give the land to the families affected by the dam for us to carry out our agricultural activities.

“But what is happening now is when we visited the site on Monday we discovered several heavy machinery brought in by a local company to harvest the timber in the area,” committee chairman Itodio Peu Rayu told reporters here yesterday.

Rep says dam project has support of silent majority

By Diana Rose
drose@thestar.com.my

MIRI: About 150 people in 17 longboats from the Kayan, Kenyah and Penan communities in Baram gathered at the proposed Baram hydroelectric dam project site at Nahah Itun Uvek, just below the village of Long Naah, recently for a prayer session in their bid to stop the project.

During the hour-long event, the villagers asked for strength and courage to continue their struggle to get the state government to stop the project.

Save Sarawaks Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) chairman Peter Kallang said the fact that the session drew so many of the local community leaders and members showed that the call to scrap the project would not easily subside until the government relented.
 
“I am touched by the support given by the people of Baram. The people that came for the prayer session far outnumbered those who came for the ‘Mayau Daleh’ ritual last April,” said Kallang.

Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) together with several state government officials and community leaders conducted the ‘Mayau Daleh’ or cleansing ritual last April for the safety of workers constructing the dam.
“I also received lots of calls, SMSes, messages in blogs, Twitter and Facebook all supporting our prayer session and the call to scrap the project,” Kallang claimed.

The day before the prayer session, about 200 people turned up for a dialogue at Long Naah village and those who spoke to represent their respective communities included a few headmen.

Long Nah headman Wan Saging made his stand loud and clear that the people of his village rejected the project outright.

Meanwhile, Baram Dam Consultative Committee (BDCC) vice-chairman Dennis Ngau, when contacted, said that he was aware of what was going on in Baram.

He said those loud voices of rejection represented “the very small voice of the minority” while the majority preferred to keep quiet.

Dennis, who is also assemblyman for Telang Usan, said he would be visiting all the 10 affected longhouses very soon.

“We will come in a team so that all queries and questions put forward by the affected people can be answered during those sessions.

“Our main objective is to clear the air so that each and everyone can understand both the pros and cons of the project, which can help them decide whether they are for or against it,” said Dennis.

BDCC has been duly appointed to negotiate terms and conditions on behalf of the affected communities with the proponent of the project.

“Our aim is to ensure that the affected communities’ welfare is guarded and they will benefit from the project,” he added.

Online version in The Star

Baram folk gather to seek divine intervention to stop dam project





You can read the online version at http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/06/14/baram-folk-gather-to-seek-divine-intervention-to-stop-dam-project/

Prayer session to stop Baram Dam attract large crowd from all over Baram

Press Release
13 June 2012

LONG NA’AH, BARAM – About 150 people in 17 longboats from the Kayan, Kenyah and Penan community in Baram gathered at the proposed Baram Hydro-electric Dam project at Nahah Itun Uvek, just below the village of Long Na’ah last Thursday (7 June 2012) to hold a prayer session to seek divine intervention to stop the said project.

During the hour long prayer session, hymns were sung and prayers were said by community members to ask for strength and courage for the people in Baram to continue their struggle to demand from the government to stop the said project as well as to ask the Almighty to change the hearts and minds of those people who are for the dam.

According to Peter Kallang, Chairman of Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers), the prayer session went very well and he was happy to see the overwhelming support given by the communities in Baram demanding that the controversial Baram Dam be scrapped.

“I am touched by the support given by the people of Baram. The people that came for the prayer session far outnumber the people that came for the ‘Mayau Daleh’ ritual last April,” said Peter.

“I also received a lot of calls, short messaging messages (SMS), messages in blogs, Twitter and Facebook all supporting our prayer session and calling for the scrapping of the project,” added Peter.

After the session, Philip Jau, Chairman of Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC) urged the government and those who are for the dam to reflect on the passage from the Bible from the Book of Genesis on the covenant made by God to Noah to never again flood the earth with a great flood.

“To all those who are Christians, especially our community leaders, I urge you to reflect on the message that God has given us. We should not destroy what God has created by creating our own flood by building the dam,” said Philip.

On the previous night, about 200 people turn up for a dialogue session at Long Na’ah village and those who spoke representing their respective communities together with a few headmen including the headman of Long Na’ah, TK Wan Saging stated clearly their rejection to the said project.

The site where the prayer session was held is also the site where Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) together with state government officials and community leaders conducted their ‘Mayau Daleh’ or cleansing ritual last April for the safety of workers that are going to construct the dam.

-          END –

Press Statement release by:
Mark Bujang
Secretary,
SAVE Rivers Network

No to Baram Dam

Philip Jau, Chairman of BPAC standing in the middle wearing white hat

Participants singing hyms

Community dialogue at Long Na'ah

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Build what people need, not what govt wants


You can read the online version here http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/06/13/build-what-people-need-not-what-govt-wants/

Interesting information

According to one of our readers the Baram dam fails at least 6 out of 7 of World Commission on Dam's strategic priorities:
1) Gaining public acceptance
2) Comprehensive options assessment
3) Addressing existing dams
4) Sustaining rivers and livelihoods 
5) Recognizing entitlements and sharing benefits
6) Ensuring compliance 
7) Sharing rivers for peace, development and security

New twist in controversy surrounding proposed Baram Dam - The Star


You can read it online here http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/6/12/sarawak/11458938&sec=sarawak

Malaysian government criticized for unlawfully protecting Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud from criminal prosecution

BRUNO MANSER FUND, BASEL / SWITZERLAND
MEDIA RELEASE                                                  Basel/Vienna, 4th June 2012


In a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, 21 NGOs from nine countries are calling on the United Nations to impose sanctions against Malaysia for the country's systematic breach of its obligations under international anti-corruption and anti-money-laundering treaties.

The NGO coalition, led by the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund, criticizes the Malaysian government's non-implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) in the case of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud ("Taib"). In particular, the Malaysian authorities are criticized for granting unlimited legal and political protection to Taib, one of the wealthiest, most powerful and longest-serving politicians in South East Asia, who is the chief culprit when it comes to the large-scale destruction of Malaysia's tropical rainforests by logging.

Taib Mahmud has concurrently held the posts of Chief Minister, Finance Minister and Minister for Natural Resources of Sarawak, Malaysia's largest state, since 1981. Three decades in office have allowed him and his closest family members to amass illicit assets worth an estimated several billion US dollars. Research by the Bruno Manser Fund has shown that the inner circle of the Taib family holds business interests in more than 400 companies in 25 countries and offshore finance centres.

"It is alleged that the Malaysian authorities are deliberately and actively protecting Mr. Taib and his family members from criminal prosecution", say the NGOs. "Malaysia's failure to charge Mr. Taib with criminal and other offences is contrary to its international duties and legal obligations as a party to UNCAC and UNTOC."

"It is also worth noting that Malaysia's anti-corruption authority, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC), appears not to be independent. It has no real control, but rather appears to be used as a tool to keep the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in power, of which Taib Mahmud is a key supporter."

The NGOs are calling on the United Nations "to reprimand Malaysia, as party to UNCAC and UNTOC, and as a member of the international community, for its inaction over the Taib case and to impose sanctions or take other appropriate measures against Malaysia."

The complaint has been endorsed by NGOs from Malaysia, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Norway, the United Kingdom, Nepal and Australia.

Last December, a similar NGO coalition provided detailed evidence of Taib family crimes to Malaysia's top prosecutors and asked them to arrest and prosecute Taib Mahmud and twelve of his family members. But the Attorney General of Malaysia, the Inspector General of Police and the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission failed to reply to or comment on the NGOs' grievances.

The UN complaint against Malaysia was highlighted this afternoon with a rally in front of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime in Vienna, the secretariat of the UN's anti-corruption and anti-money-laundering treaties. The rally was followed by a closed-door meeting between an NGO delegation and UN officials to discuss possible steps against Malaysia over its inaction on Taib crimes.

Please contact us for further information:

Bruno Manser Fund, Socinstrasse 37, 4051 Basel/Switzerland
Tel.+41 61 261 94 74
www.bmf.ch, www.stop-timber-corruption.org

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International Rivers set up website on dam issues in Malaysia

International Rivers have put up in their website our issues on mega-dams in Sarawak. Here is the link http://www.internationalrivers.org/campaigns/malaysiaMa