Thursday, 30 August 2012

Open Discussion cum Brainstorming concerning dam projects in Baram

This is an invitation to a meeting which is extended to all those who are from Baram and are concerned about the welfare and the right of the people there. The meeting will be held as follows:

Time: 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm
Date: 3rd September 2012
Venue: Telang Usan, Miri

The objective of the meeting is for an open discussion cum brainstorming concerning projects in Baram.

It is called by the Organisation - Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC) which is currently chaired by Mr. Philip Jau. Your participation would be much appreciated. If for any reason you cannot attend personally, we would still appreciate your cooperation and support for this cause. Most importantly, please forward this invitation to all your Baram friends.

For queries please contact Mr. Philip Jau on 016 859 7738

Best Regards,
Peter Kallang
(Chairman Save Rivers on behalf of mr. Philip Jau)

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Malaysia’s Murum Dam Sets Poor Precedents for Best Practice


Tue, 08/14/2012 - 4:46pm
By: Simone Adler


A view of the Murum River, where the Murum Dam is located
Photo Credit: Free Malaysia Today

Sarawak is a Malaysian state located in the northern part of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, home of one of the world’s oldest rainforests and the world’s highest rate of deforestation. Deep within the forest, home to 40 indigenous communities, sits the nearly completed 944 MW Murum Dam. The dam is expected to be portrayed as best practice by the Sarawak government and the dam builders involved. In May of next year, theInternational Hydropower Association (IHA) will hold its biennial conference in Sarawak and is expected to further praise the Murum Dam.

Hydro Tasmania admits lack of anti-corruption audits in "100 billion dollar" Sarawak dam scheme

BRUNO MANSER FUND, BASEL, SWITZERLAND
23rd August 2012 – for immediate release


Roy Adair, CEO of Hydro Tasmania, confirms company's involvement in controversial Malaysian rainforest dam constructions – Hydro Tasmania downplays compliance deficits of Sarawak Energy, its Malaysian business partner

(HOBART, TASMANIA) Roy Adair, the CEO of Australian state-owned energy provider Hydro Tasmania, said yesterday his company had no audits in place to prevent Hydro Tasmania’s participation in projects that involve corruption.

In an interview with the Australian ABC Radio, Adair admitted that only general “pre-bid checks” were done on Sarawak Energy, a Malaysian dam builder and business partner, prior to Hydro Tasmania’s engagement in a “100 billion dollar” energy project in Sarawak. He said that “not so much auditing” on potential corrupt practices of Sarawak Energy had been done.

Sarawak Energy is owned by the Malaysian state of Sarawak and chaired by Hamed Sepawi, a cousin and close business associate of long-term Sarawak Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud (“Taib”). Taib is currently under investigation by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) for corruption and abuse of public office. Taib’s last major energy project, the 2,400 MW Bakun mega-dam, had been labelled by Transparency International as a “monument of corruption”.

In an attempt to downplay Hydro Tasmania’s involvement in Sarawak’s dam building spree, Adair said his company role was “relatively minimal” as it was only earning 3 million (Australian) dollars from its Sarawak projects. However, Adair failed to acknowledge the central role played by Hydro Tasmania engineers such as Andrew Pattle. The latter has been the Project Director of the 944 MW Murum dam, which is currently under construction, and has been appointed as the Senior Project Manager for another two proposed dams, Baram (1,200 MW) and Baleh (1,400 MW). Last year, Pattle said that “safety and environmental compliance” were “not given much importance” with dam-building in Malaysia.

The Sarawak dam building spree has drawn heavy criticism from indigenous associations and environmental organizations. The Baram dam alone would displace 20’000 Sarawak natives and flood over 400km2 of tropical rainforests. Yesterday, the Tasmanian Greens called on the Tasmanian Minister for Energy “to recall all of its employees currently involved in environmentally and socially destructive dam building practices in Malaysia."

Without the expertise of foreign consultants such as Hydro Tasmania, Sarawak Energy would not be in a position to realize its controversial dam plans.

– Ends –

Sources used for this release:

http://firstpost.com/topic/organization/abc-ceo-roy-adair-speak-about-sbs-dateline-report-on-sarawak-video-p0Rjs0lDYS0-53106-1.html

http://mps.tas.greens.org.au/2012/08/hydro%E2%80%99s-shady-sarawak-venture-in-the-spotlight-greens-call-for-minister-to-recall-all-hydro-staff

http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/related/aid/615/id/601522/n/The-Last-Frontier

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

HYDRO’S SHADY SARAWAK VENTURE IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Greens Call for Minister to Recall All Hydro Staff


Kim Booth MP
Greens Energy Spokesperson


The Tasmanian Greens today called on the Minister for Energy to direct Hydro Tasmania to recall all of its employees currently involved in environmentally and socially destructive dam building practices in Malaysia.

Greens Energy spokesperson Kim Booth MP said Tasmania’s involvement in the environmental destruction and displacement of indigenous people in Sarawak and is to be exposed tonight on the SBS Dateline program.

“The Tasmanian Greens are seriously concerned about the work that Hydro’s consulting arm Entura has been undertaking in Sarawak,’ Mr Booth said.

“We know that the Bakun dam has displaced thousands of families in Sarawak and flooded thousands of square kilometres of land, much of which is critical rainforest.”

“Tasmania has no place getting involved in such shady ventures, and unfortunately we are now in the national and international spotlight for all the wrong reasons.”

“Our office recently received a copy of a letter sent by the chairman of an ENGO in Sarawak called Save Rivers to the company in charge of the project, Sarawak Energy Berhad, expressing concerns about Hydro’s involvement.”

“Save Rivers is extremely concerned about comments contained in Hydro Tasmania’s Annual Report stating that practices in Sarawak reflect ‘how Australia did things a few decades ago’.”

“A Tasmanian taxpayer owned company should not be supporting dodgy environmental and human rights practices, whether it’s in Tasmania or elsewhere in the world.”

August 22, 2012

The Last Frontier


Sarawak Makes A Date On Australian TV

Posted Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

This post is also available in: Iban, Malay

Australia’s longest-running and highly prestigious TV current affairs programme,Dateline, has just devoted a full half hour show to the problems of logging in Sarawak and to Taib Mahmud’s crazy plan to build 12 more dams in the state

Their veteran reporter, David O’Shea, spent days filming in Sarawak and interviewing people who had been flooded from their homes by Bakun,

He also visited some of the villages which have been suffering from gangster attacks on behalf of logging companies.

These are, of course, daily issues for the poor people of Sarawak and they are heard about daily on the show Radio Free Sarawak. However, for many Australians what is happening to the people of Sarawak and to their beautiful forest will come as a shock and surprise.

Bleak future for Baram if dam plans goes ahead

For Immediate Release
21 August 2012

MIRI: Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) together with Baram Protection Committee (BPAC) totally disagree with the statement made by Sarawak’s Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud which was published in the Borneo Post today (21 August) saying that the “Dam is vital for Baram’s future”.

“The Chief Minister is right in saying that the Baram Dam is vital for the future of Baram, but the future he is painting looks very bleak as far as the people of Baram is concerned”, said Philip Jau, Chairman of BPAC.

“I can safely say that the reality on the ground is most of the people in Baram do not want the dam as they have seen and heard about the hardships and the unresolved problems that the people of Batang Ai and Bakun faced”, added Philip.

“Even in Murum, the Penans affected by the Murum Dam are not happy with the way the government is treating them. How can Taib say that the people of Murum are okay?” questions Philip.

Chairman of SAVE Rivers, Peter Kallang refutes the statement in which Taib says that Baram is half empty and Baram needs the dam in order to attract people who had migrated to towns to come back.

“Taib should ask himself why Baram is empty”, said Peter.

“Since the 1970s, the timber in Baram has been exploited and many of the timber companies and those connected to the timber industry made money. However, not much of the revenue from the timber industry went back to develop the Baram District.

“Baram still lacks the basic infrastructures for it to progress and most of its natural resources such as timber and land have been exploited without much had been given back to the locals and that is why people in Baram migrated elsewhere to look for a better living”, explained Peter.

Peter went on to explain that in the Sungai Asap Resettlement Scheme, the unemployment rate is quite high.

“Half of the people resettled in Sungai Asap have left to look for better jobs elsewhere.

“For the other half that stayed, half of that have gone back to their original lands or living on jelatongs (floating houses).

“Most of the lands surrounding Sungai Asap are leased out to timber and plantation companies, making it more difficult for the people there to farm and earn a decent living”, said Peter.

SAVE Rivers and BPAC concurred that Taib seems to be out of touch with the feelings and sentiments of the people on the ground, as some community leaders and elected representatives are giving false information that the all the people in Baram agrees to the Baram Dam project.

SAVE Rivers and BPAC suggest that Taib to go and make a surprise visit to Sungai Asap as well as the Penans living in Murum and the communities that are going to be affected by Baram Dam in order to get a first hand feel of the real situation on the ground instead of making statements saying that everything is alright and people are happy with the dam projects.

- END –

Press Statement issued by:
Mark Bujang
Secretary, SAVE Rivers

For more information, please contact Peter Kallang at +60138331104, Philip Jau +608597738 and Mark Bujang +60148776685.

The gift of light


IDYLLIC: The remote yet scenic 19-household village of Long Kerabangan.

SARAWAK may be rich with natural resources like petroleum and LNG, not to mention the cheapest electricity in the region, but 33 per cent of rural Sarawak remains without electricity coverage.

Until July this year, the 19 and 40 household villages of Long Kerabangan and Long Tanid in the Lawas Highlands were part of that statistic, depending solely on diesel gen-sets, kerosene lamps and candles to get by.

Thanks to the efforts of Barefoot Mercy, however, these villages now enjoy 24-hour electricity from modest yet effective 10kW micro-hydro systems provided by the local NGO.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/08/21/the-gift-of-light/#ixzz24QqXCpVd

SAVE Rivers wants Mawan to clarify issues on shortcomings of Bakun and Batang Ai Dams

For Immediate Release
August 18, 2012

Miri: Save Sarawak’s Rivers (SAVE Rivers) commends a statement made by the Senior Minister and Minister of Social Development, Tan Sri William Mawan published in the Borneo Post on the 18th August, 2012, admitting to the shortcomings in Sg Asap resettlement scheme. It is hoped that Tan Sri Mawan would also further clarify that these issues, including similar issues affecting the Batang Ai resettlement, have not been resolved many years after the initial resettlement.

Today, promises are also made to the people of Baram that the government will look after them and will not abandon them. The promise made to them today is the same as was made to them when the exploitation of timber first started in the district in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Those promises were on better standard of living, good roads and infrastructure. They were told that the government always has the interest of the people at heart. It was just like those made to the people of Bakun/Sungai Asap and Batang Ai.

Just like those in Sungai Asap and Batang Ai the promises in Baram are not fulfilled. Over 30 years since the first promises were made; there are no tarred roads or infrastructure for the communities who still eke a basic standard of living today. There is a burning question to how state and federal development funds allocated to the Baram have been spent or were there any such allocation in the first place.

SAVE Rivers would like to see that the government settle all unfulfilled promises made to the people of Bakun and Batang Ai who were forced to make way for these mega-dams, before embarking on building other mega-dams which would negatively affect the lives of many more communities. Building new dams would only add more problems for the government and subject more people to suffer as the consequence. The people affected by Bakun were 10,000, those affected by the Batang Ai 3,000, Murum 1,000. But Baram will be about 20,000. So if the government cannot be trusted to meet the need of those in the earlier dams how can they amicably settle those of the 20,000 people?

On the formation of the Baram HEP Consultative Committee, the view of SAVE Rivers is that is a futile exercise. Similar committees were formed for Bakun/Sungai Asap years ago but they fail to meet the real needs of the people.

The phrase, "there is no smoke without fire", thus aptly applies to Mawan's complaint about the "spin off these shortcomings in Bakun". If the issues of the mega-dam resettlements in Sarawak were efficiently resolved after many years, there should be no spin.

SAVE Rivers urges Mawan to take his own advice, whereby the current ruling party should act as problem-solvers, particularly of societal and environmental problems they have created.

Peter Kallang, Chairperson of SAVE Sarawak, comments, "politicians should not say good things about the Baram dam just to stay in power. The Baram dam will have a permanent effect on the life and well-being of the people. It would be most irresponsible to make such statement for personal or party interest."

Press Statement Released By:
Mark Bujang
Secretary, SAVE Rivers

Original Signed
Peter Kallang
Chairman SAVE Rivers
H/Phn: 013 833 1104

NOTE: SAVE Rivers is a Network of individuals and 8 Malaysian Indigenous Peoples’ Non-Government Organisation NGOs and Community Based Organisations (CBOs), namely
1) Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC)
2) Borneo Resources Institute, Malaysia (BRIMAS)
3) Indigenous Peoples of Malaysia Network (JOAS)
4) The Sarawak Native Customary Land Rights Network (TAHABAS)
5) Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA)
6) Sarawak Indigenous Lawyers Alliance (SILA)
7) Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (SCANE)
8) Centre for Community Information and Communications (CICOM)

Dam vital for Baram's future, says Taib


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Open Letter by Baram Youth to Sarawak's Chief Minister

YAB Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud - Sarawak Chief Minister
22nd Floor, Wisma Bapa Malaysia
Petra Jaya, 93502 Kuching
Sarawak, Malaysia
Tel: 082 440801
Fax: 082 444566

Dear Sir,

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.

Very truly yours,
The Baram Youth

Cc:
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

‘Proposed Baram dam to benefit people in the area’

Posted on August 3, 2012, Friday


USE IT WISELY: Jacob (right) hands over a letter of approval for the minor rural project to one of the project recipients.

MIRI: The government’s ultimate goal, if it ever builds the proposed Baram Dam in 2018, is to bring integrated development to greatly improve the living standard of the people in the area.

Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan said the project too is to ensure that Sarawak has enough power for its development programme so that it could become part of the nation’s high-income nation.

“The bottom line is their life (the affected people) would be much better than what it is now. That is what 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 totalling RM251,000 for 17 projects.

He regretted that the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the opposition had painted a negative picture on the proposed project even though it is only at the proposal stage, adding that the relevant studies are still being carried out.

Jacob, who is the Member of Parliament for Baram, assured that the Baram Hydro Community Consultative Committee headed by him will work closely with the government in ensuring that when they do the resettlement plan, and implementing the project, the interest of the people must be given top priority.

“We are there to ensure that the interest of the people there are given top priority because from what the NGOs and the opposition are doing at the moment, they are painting a very negative picture of the dam and so on,” he said.

Jacob pointed out that the proposed Baram dam was one of the efforts to eradicate the current high rate of poverty especially in Ulu Baram. It was also to provide employment to the people, adding that the timber industry is a sunset industry while oil palm project is not feasible in the interior area that is lacking good infrastructure.

“But we have resources of the river that could be converted into energy to help the state to have enough energy at least that is our contribution to the state. At the same time we want the authorities to look into the welfare of the people and this is very important and that is why we established the consultative committee,” he stressed.

Jacob said the committee involves the Federation of the Orang Ulu Malaysia (FORUM) that consists of all the associations and community leaders in the area and also intellectuals in the areas and in towns, the headmen and the people on the ground, the village development and security committees.

The committee is to serve the interest of the affected people so that people cannot categorically say the government is forcing the project on them. This is not the case.

So far the committee has established a mini-lab in Kuching with the cooperation of the State Planning Unit, where they have given their recommendations on what the government should do.

Jacob added that they are currently refining the recommendations and doing comparative studies with areas where dams have been built like in Murum, Bakun and Batang Ai so as to assist the government to plan and make sure the full implementation of the programme will benefit the affected people.

Thus, Jacob urged the people in Baram to cooperate with the consultative committee and government in finding the most effective ways of implementing the project that is meant to
benefit them too.

The proposed RM4-billion Baram Hydro-electric Dam Project is part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy project.

Its reservoir will cover an area of 39,000 hectares where at least 20,000 people from 25 longhouses will be resettled when the dam is built.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/08/03/proposed-baram-dam-to-benefit-people-in-the-area/#ixzz24GTl4xDp

Sagan unhappy over media speculation on his candidacy

Posted on August 3, 2012, Friday 

MIRI: Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Jacob Sagan has expressed his displeasure over constant media speculation that he will likely be replaced at the last minute in the coming 13th general election.

Sagan, who is Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) senior vice-president, said the media reports would confuse voters in the Baram parliamentary constituency as the party had made the decision to retain him as Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Baram seat.

“It (speculation) will demoralise people in the constituency,” he said after presenting government grants worth RM251,000 to 17 recipients at the Miri Resident Office, here, yesterday.

Media reports recently said that at least five candidates were vying for the predominantly rural Baram seat which might replace Sagan if the leadership deemed him not a winnable candidate.

On another issue, Sagan who is the Baram hydroelectric project community consultative committee (BCCC) chairman, said landowners affected by the construction of the 58km road from Long Lama to Baram dam had been assured that the ongoing survey of their land would be conducted fair and square.

Sagan who earlier chaired a closed-door dialogue between the landowners and the Land and Survey Department here, said the landowners had been given a guarantee by the department that the local community, especially the landowners, would be involved actively during the survey process and construction of the road.

On negative publicity on the proposed RM4 billion Baram dam, he clarified that the local community could voice out their grouses or suggestions to the BCCC as the construction was expected to commence in 2018.

“Right now, it is still at the early stage, with various ecological studies being conducted,” he said, adding that the local community should not fear about their welfare as the BCCC would listen to their views.

The construction of the Baram dam will affect more than 20,000 people from 25 settlements that will be submerged once the dam is operational. The 1,000mw dam will primarily be used to generate electricity for the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). — Bernama

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/08/03/sagan-unhappy-over-media-speculation-on-his-candidacy/#ixzz24GT6p7Zg

Uma Jawe residents ready to swap ‘jelatongs’ for longhouse

Posted on July 30, 2012, Monday

FLOATING CHURCH: The floating SIB church at Uma Jawe in a dilapidated state. 

BAKUN: The 30 odd families of Uma Jawe, who are currently living in jelatongs (floating houses), have identified a site to build a new longhouse, revealed its village chief Janting Ibau.

He claimed they had obtained permission from the relevant authorities to do so.

“We would like to settle down for good as jelatongs are a temporary measure after our longhouses were submerged when the Bakun hydroelectric power (HEP) dam was impounded on October 13, 2010,” Janting told The Borneo Post at Uma Jawe, about four hours’ boat ride from here, on Friday.

He revealed that although most of the people from his village were relocated to Sg Asap Resettlement Scheme, some villagers preferred to stay behind.

“As they cannot be forced to leave their ancestral homes, they instead built jelatongs and stayed put.”

However, he said after almost two years of staying afloat, they wanted to have permanent houses so that they don’t have to constantly spend time and money to repair their jelatongs.

“Now many people from Sg Asap want to come back as this land is recognised as our NCR land.”

Janting also revealed that living on jelatongs was not something they were proud of as there were a lot of issues tied to it, such as sanitation, school, healthcare and pollution to the environment.

“I must admit that living in a jelatong is not a healthy lifestyle. But what can we do? We now hope that the relevant authorities will assist us in rebuilding our longhouse so that we can settle here permanently.”

Janting revealed that another key reason for his people to come back and to rebuild their longhouses was because of culture shock at Sg Asap.

“Living in Sg Asap is very expensive because we have to buy almost everything. Over here, we can fish and hunt and gather jungle produce easily. Life is definitely cheaper here compared to at Sg Asap, except that it’s too far away from amenities such as school and clinic.”

Janting disclosed that while his two sons were staying in his longhouse in Sg Asap, he and his wife were tilling the land behind their jelatong.

“We will plant paddy this year and we will open up more land to plant fruit trees and rubber trees as well. In the long run, we would be better off again.”

Meanwhile, Wilson Ugak promised the people there that their church, which was floated with oil drums and floating trees after the impoundment of the dam, would be rebuild.

Most of the people of Uma Jawe are Christians of the Borneo Evangelical Church (SIB) denomination.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/07/30/uma-jawe-residents-ready-to-swap-jelatongs-for-longhouse/#ixzz24GSdTige

‘Govt follows requirements on dam construction’

by Mohamad Abdullah, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on July 26, 2012, Thursday

MIRI: Deputy Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan advised the people in upper Baram not to support the group opposing the Baram Dam.

He said the government followed all requirements stipulated by the United Nations in relation to dam construction.

“If the government does not follow any single requirement as stipulated, then no international investor will come to invest here as a kind of protest,” Jacob said at the closing of a seminar at Pustaka Miri organised by Persatuan Berawan Sarawak recently.

He said there was no need for the group that went against this project to go around telling people the dam would endanger the lives of Baram folks as the government would not flood its own people.

“As a local from the area, I am as concerned as they are. But I can assure the affected people their lives will change for the better if they support the Baram Dam.”

Sagan, who is MP for Baram, was guest of honour of Persatuan Berawan Sarawak.

Among those present were Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister Robert Laing Anyie and organising chairlady Catherine Awing Wan.

Earlier Sagan commended the association for organising the seminar to enlighten members on the importance of food for health.

“A proper diet can minimise disorders like hypertension, heart attack, diabetes and obesity,” he said.

He advised parents attending the seminar to spend quality time with their children and engage in open discussions with them regularly to know their fears.

“Without support from family members, a troubled kid will look outside the family or go to the wrong group,” he disclosed.

Sagan announced a RM10,000 grant for Persatuan Berawan Sarawak to run its activities.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/07/26/govt-follows-requirements-on-dam-construction/#ixzz24GR6JyO3

Jacob Misleads Baram Folks on Dam

Joint Statement of SAVE Rivers and BPAC

26 July 2012

MIRI - With reference to the statement by YB Dato’ Jacob Dungau Sagan that appeared in The Borneo Post today (26 July 2012) headlined ‘Govt follows requirements on dam construction’, we in Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) together with the Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC) would like to make the following statement.

We find Dato’ Jacob’s statement to be preposterous and it is irresponsible of him as an elected representative for the people of Baram to say that the Government would not flood its own people.

By going forward with the Baram Dam project, the reservoir created would flood 412 square kilometers of the Kayan, Kenyah and Penan heartland in Baram which will force about 20,000 people to be displaced from their ancestral lands.

The affected people would have no choice but to start new lives in a totally new area. As we have seen in the case of the Batang Ai and Bakun Dam, the people affected there face numerous problems which the government has yet to resolve until today.

We would like to ask Dato’ Jacob, what United Nations requirements has the government followed diligently. If he is referring to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which Malaysia has agreed to adopt in the United Nations, then the government has violated a number of articles, among others, Article 26 (Right to Land) and Article 18 and 19 (Participation in decision making process and obtaining free, prior and informed consent).

Up to now, the government has yet to obtain the consent of the affected people in Baram. The people of Baram strongly oppose this project. This is proven by numerous letters, police reports and protests made by the people of Baram against the said project. All this while, the government has been using the community leaders and the Federation of Orang Ulu Associations Malaysia (FORUM) to give the perception to the public that the people of Baram support this project. Consent does not mean that only the community leaders agree to the project, but it should be based on the consensus of the whole community as stipulated in the UNDRIP. The consensus of the whole community is vital as this project will adversely affect the rights, survival and future of every member of the community.

-END-

Press Statement issued by:

Peter Kallang                                           Philip Jau
Chairman, SAVE Rivers                          Chairman, BPAC

Penans in Baram instigated by particular group — Jabu

by Anthony Joseph, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on July 23, 2012, Monday

LONG LAPUT: There remains one so-called human rights organisation still actively instigating the Penan to go against the government in the Tutoh Apoh and Ulu Selongoh areas in Baram.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, who did not name them, said the government was aware of their presence, but preferred to let the Penans chase them out of the state.

“We don’t want to have a quarrel with them. Let the Penans give them the boot when they (Penan) see the successes in Long Beruang, Long Lamai and Long Jekitan due to the government’s efforts,” he said at a thanksgiving ceremony for the appointment of Elizabeth Deng as a Pemancha for the Kayan community on Saturday.

He told the people at Uma Eda Beran in Long Laput, Baram, that the Penan community could be easily manipulated because most of them were not educated and still living in poverty.

“They (so-called human rights organisations) thus took the opportunity to poison their (Penan) minds to go against the government and private companies who are trying to bring progress and development to them.

“The government and I pity the Penans for being used by them, especially Bruno Manser who set up the Bruno Manser Foundation in Switzerland to purportedly assist and help them. However, not a single sen has been channelled to help the community.”

Jabu opined that the Penans would accept change for the better one day as there had been such signs after some in the community witnessed with their own eyes the development and progress the Penans in Suai were currently enjoying.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/07/23/penans-in-baram-instigated-by-particular-group-jabu/#ixzz24GP6yEYV

Press Metal denies polluting Balingian River

by Conny Banji, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on July 16, 2012, Monday

CAREFUL: Two workers check on the cooled billets during casting operation. 

MUKAH: Press Metal Sarawak (PMS) Sdn Bhd has reiterated that its aluminium smelting plant in Mukah-Balingian Road here did not pollute the Balingian River as alleged by individuals on YouTube.

Its Metal Technical and Development manager Dr Siew Eng Fui said the company used advanced technology and dry processes to smelt raw aluminium to turn it into ingots and billets.

“We are committed in safeguarding and sustaining environmental responsibilities in accordance to the Environmental Management Plan approved by Environment Department (DOE).

“The plant is also subjected to a third party audit at every quarter of the year and the measurement results obtained are reported to the department,” he told reporters during the four-day 1Malaysia Media Trip 2012 to Mukah recently.

The trip was organised by the Information Department, and it was participated by about 30 media practitioners, including bloggers.

Dr Siew said the smelting plant was equipped with an advanced gas treatment system that cleaned gases from the aluminium reduction pots before they were released to the environment.

“Our stack emissions are monitored using Continuous Emissions Monitoring System, which is linked online 24 hours day to DOE.”

He said aluminium smelting involved dry processes and water was only used in the plant for cooling in casting operation, sanitary and fire fighting system.

“The cooling water at the casting operation is recycled using cooling towers, and later reused for further casting operation.

“There is no water discharge from the plant.”

As another proof, he said there were an abundant number of fish in three lakes located about 100 metres from the plant. In fact, PMS organised a fishing competition there annually.

PMS is the first primary aluminium smelting plant in the country. It produces two types of aluminium, namely ingot and billet. They are mainly exported to Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand.

Its two smelting plants are in Balingian (in Mukah Division) and Samalaju (in Bintulu).

The Mukah plant has a smelting capacity of 120,000 tonnes per annum, while Samalaju boasts 320,000 tonnes.

Listed on the main board of the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, PMS recorded RM2.3 billion in turnover last year.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/07/16/press-metal-denies-polluting-balingian-river/#ixzz24GOTINnX

Pent-up anger explodes

by Yunus Yussop, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on July 17, 2012, Tuesday

I’M LISTENING: The presence of Tiong at the workers camp soon after the incident attracted thousands of workers who took the chance to express their unhappiness on various issues.

BINTULU: Simmering discontent among local and Indonesian workers over poor working and living conditions and preferential treatment given to workers from China exploded into violence at a Samalaju Industrial Estate (SIE) workers camp here on Sunday evening.

The brawl started around 5pm at the main entrance of the workers camp which could accommodate more than 4,000 workers when the angry workers set upon Chinese workers leaving 11 of them and one local worker injured.

The attacks quickly spread to other parts of the camp and by the time the police arrived around 7pm all the attackers had fled the scene.

Five of the wounded were rushed to the hospital here with one suffering serious internal injuries.

When contacted the police chief here, Superintendent Madang Usat, said the police were still identifying the attackers, their motive and the cause of the incident.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/07/17/pent-up-anger-explodes/#ixzz24GNVyOQJ




Sarawak Energy’s RM30b loan stumps DAP

Joseph Tawie | July 18, 2012

Who approved RM30 billion loan for Sarawak Energy Bhd which recorded an annual after tax profit of only RM330 million?

KUCHING: How did Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) manage to secure a RM30 billion loan when its annual after tax profits amounted to only RM330 million? Is it because SEB or Sarawak Electricity Supply Corporation (Sesco) is a state government- owned company?

Building indigenous resilience in the face of land-grabbing, deforestation in Malaysian Borneo

Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
July 10, 2012


Indigenous protest in Sarawak
Indigenous protest in Sarawak. Image courtesy of The Borneo Project.