Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Sign the Online Petition to Stop Hydro Tasmania from Damming Sarawak Rivers

+++PLEASE CIRCULATE AND TELL YOUR FRIENDS+++

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,

As the Save Sarawak Rivers delegation has arrived in Australia, we would like to ask you to sign the new online petition for Hydro Tasmania to stop damming Sarawak rivers. A strong petition will help the Sarawak delegation in Australia

Please access the petition now under:

http://savesarawakrivers.good.do/save-sarawak-rivers/hydro-tasmania-out-of-sarawak

Peter Kallang from SAVE RIVERS and headman James Nyurang Usang have arrived in Sydney and have held some first meetings with media representatives, NGOs and Australian politicans as well as a public event at Bondi Beach. Please find attached two pictures of Peter Kallang and James Nyurang Usang in front of the Sydney Opera House and together with New South Wales MP John Kaye at the state Parliament House today

They will continue their tour on Sunday to Canberra where they will be hosted by Senator Lee Rhiannon (NSW Greens). Lee already hosted Bruno Manser and a Penan delegation during their 1990 world tour. On Monday, they will hold meetings with more opinion leaders in Cannerra, including Australian Labor Party Senator Lisa Maria Singh.

A public event is scheduled for Monday, 26 November, 7 pm at the Canberra Museum and Gallery, 176 London Circuit, Canberra.

Further events will be held in Melbourne, Launceston and Hobart. See: http://www.savesarawakrivers.com

Your BMF team
www.bmf.ch, www.stop-corruption-dams.org
23 November 2012

For Immediate Release

The campaign for stopping the involvement of Hydro Tasmania in the Sarawak’s mega dams project was officially launched on the 23rd November 2012 with a meeting at the State Parliament for the state of New South Wales in Sydney Australia.

The meeting was held with Mr. John Kayes, a member of the Australian Green Party and an elected member of the Legislative Council at the Upper House. Representing Save Rivers were Mr. Peter Kallang, the Chairman of Save Rivers and Ketua Kampung Mr. James Nyurang both from Baram, Sarawak. Hydro Tasmania,a company owned by the government of the state of Tasmania. It is providing skilled manpower to Sarawak Energy Berhad under a secondment arrangement with Hydro Tasmania’s subsidiary, Entura.

Among the personnel seconded by Entura to Sarawak Energy Berhad are Mr. Andrew Pattle, who was the project Director for the Murum dam and now the Senior Project Manager for the Baleh and Baram Dam, Mr. Mike Smith a Vice President and Head of Planning and Strategy at Sarawak Energy Berhad, and Mr. Nick Wright a Vice President looking after the Corporate and Social Responsibility at Sarawak Energy Berhad. Mr. Nick Wright was formerly an Advisor to the Minister Energy Minister of the state of Tasmania. In Sarawak Energy Berhad, Mr. Wright responsibility in the dam project involves the resettlement of those affected, the compensation, sustainability and consultation.

Commenting on Save Rivers campaign in Australia, Mr Peter Kallang said that it was necessary as Hydro Tasmania plays a very important role in the building of the 12 dams in Sarawak. Mr. Peter Kallang said, “We want Hydro Tasmania to stop providing their service in building the dams in Sarawak, which is built with total disregard for the wellbeing or consent of the people affected and cause total and irreversible environmental destruction. The government of Australia has to intervene and stop this government owned company in this involvement. We appeal to the Australian public to support our cause. Instead of these mega dams, we would like to request Hydro Tasmania to help the people of Sarawak in setting up alternative source of electrical power in collaboration with the indigenous people and which is environmentally friendly.”

In receiving the representatives from Sarawak, Mr. John Kayes gave his support for the campaign in Australia. From Sydney, Mr. Peter Kallang and Ketua Kampung James Nyurang will travel to Canberra, Hobart, Launceston and Melbourne where they will have meetings with Politicians and Companies in Australia.

- End -

Prepared by:
Peter Kallang
Chairman Save Rivers
Email: peterkallang@yahoo.com


At parlement gardern: Left to Right: James Nurang, John Kaye & Peter Kallang




Welcomed by a representative of the Australian indigenous people: Left to Right: Peter Kallang, Dominic Wy Kanak (Waveley Council Member) & James Nyurang

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.

No safe water, food for displaced Bakun natives

Joseph Tawie | November 22, 2012

For the displaced natives in Bakun, Sarawak, its a case of 'water, water everywhere, nary a drop to drink'.


KUCHING: All sorts of woes are bedevilling the people living on their “jelatong” houses which are floating on the Bakun dam lake. Their woes range from a foul smell emanating from rotting organic matter submerged at the bottom of the dam to the river’s declining biodiversity and lack of safe drinking water.

The foul rotten egg-like smell is indicative of the presence of hydrogen sulfide and reports of high turbidity and low pH levels are killing off fish life in the dam and tributaries.

Highlighting these woes during his budget speech, Ba’Kelalan assemblyman, Baru Bian, said that he made a four-day trip to Bakun recently to see for himself how the people have fared since their displacement to make way for the dam.

“I was dismayed at the shocking sights that greeted me and the sorry stories told to me by the people living on their ‘jelatong’ houses now floating on the lake.

“The water on which their homes float is foul-smelling due to the rotting organic matter submerged at the bottom of the dam. Downstream from the dam, the river’s biodiversity has degenerated, fish catches have fallen, and once-clean waters smell foul and are unsafe to drink.

“In a paper entitled ‘Physio-chemical Characteristics in the Filling Phase of Bakun Hydroelectric Reservoir, Sarawak, Malaysia’ published in the International Journal of Applied Science and Technology this year, the authors confirmed that the strong rotten egg smell in the water indicated the presence of hydrogen sulfide.

“They also report high turbidity and low pH levels, which are detrimental to fish life in the dam and tributaries. The fall in the fish numbers affects the people negatively, as fish is one of the sources of food that is still free,” said Bian, who is also the Sarawak PKR chairman.

He added that as a result, the villagers are also now without clean water supply even though they are living on a huge expanse of water.

“There are signs warning them against drinking or swimming in the water because of the risk of Melioidosis and Leptospirosis. Water is life and water was once freely available to them from the previously clean rivers, even if they had no piped water.

“Now it is a case of ‘water, water everywhere but nary a drop to drink,” said Bian.

Compensations in dispute

He also pointed out that there were no public toilets in the bazaar at Sungai Asap and locals were forced to go to the bushes to ease themselves.

“Also, the promised compensations of replacement housing, jobs, compensation payments, three acres of land per family, etc have hardly materialised or still in dispute.

“Their experiences are not dissimilar to those of earlier resettlement schemes such as those at Batang Ai. This is a clear reflection of the government’s attitude towards the poorest of the poor of the land – a ‘tidak apa’ and ‘what they never had, they won’t miss’ attitude,” Bian said.

He said given these problems and the recent blockade of the Murum dam by the Penans to highlight their complaints of the government’s violation of UNDRIP and the Equator Principles, it not unreasonable to draw the conclusion that the state government was not fair, transparent and accountable to the affected indigenous communities.

“And yet we call it development to achieve a high-income economy – at the expense of the true ‘Bumiputeras’ of this land.

“The proposed Baram dam will displace more than 20,000 people from their ancestral lands and submerge 26 villagers. The least the government can do is to learn from the mistakes from the other dams and listen to the people for a change.

“Accusing the opposition and NGOs of incitement is not a solution to problems that are real. Telling the Penans to accept change to be progressive is arrogantly brushing aside their fears without listening to their concerns,” he said.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Global pressure against Taib’s mega dams

FMT Staff | November 22, 2012

The Bruno Manser Fund wants Sarawak Energy Bhd to declare its finances, contracts and funders linked to the development of mega dams in Sarawak.


KUCHING: Swiss-based NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), which has been at the forefront of a global campaign against Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s land “development” policy which has stripped the state’s verdant rainforest and displaced thousands of indigenous natives, is calling for an independent external review of the Bakun, Bengoh and Batang Ai dams.

It is also demanding for a moratorium on all Sarawak dam construction and for Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB), a key player in the development, to sack its chairman, Hamed Abdul Sepawi.

BMF also wants SEB to declare its finances, contracts and funders.

It is also exerting pressure on foreign corporations, which it alleged were closely linked to Taib’s global business empire, to shun the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE)

It claimed “any involvement in Taib government’s hydropower programme is inextricably linked to corruption, environmental damage and human rights violations”.

In a report released today entitled “Sold Down the River. How Sarawak Dam Plans Compromise the Future of Malaysia’s Indigenous Peoples”, BMF disclosed that many of companies involved were closely linked to Taib and to his family-linked Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS).

“Foreign corporate actors, such as Australia’s Hydro Tasmania, Snowy Mountains Engineering Company (SMEC), GHD, the US consultant MWH Global, Norway’s Norconsult, Germany’s Fichtner and construction companies such as China’s Three Gorges Corporation and Sinohydro have concluded a ‘pact with the devil’ and are assisting the Taib government with its dam projects,” it said.

The report also named the “funding agencies” behind the Sarawak dam plans to include RHB Bank, EON Bank and AmInvestment Bank alongside Kuwait Finance House and Kenanga Investment Bank, which is a joint venture between CMS and Deutsche Bank

The report further examined the dam plans that form part of SCORE, which is seen as “Southeast Asia’s most ambitious and most expensive energy project”.

The project, BMF noted, has a “planned investments of up to US$105 billion by 2030”.

According to BMF, some tens of thousands of indigenous people affected by the massive project are facing forced displacement from their traditional lands.

Sarawak has ‘excess’ power

The report noted that under the guise of “development”, the Taib government is planning to virtually dam all the rivers in the state’s interior, irrespective of the social and environmental implications.

“The dam plans are being pushed ahead under a cloak of secrecy. If implemented, they would entail the cultural genocide of a significant part of Sarawak’s rich indigenous culture,” it said.

A first series of 12 dams is currently being implemented by SEB, which holds monopoly on the state’s power supply.

The report stressed the fact that Sarawak is already facing a “excess power” situation.

“The current peak demand in Sarawak is around 1,000 megawatts (MW) and is thus far less than the power that can be produced by the recently completed Bakun dam alone, which, with a capacity of 2400 MW, is Asia’s largest dam outside China.”

BMF said that the Taib government and SEB, as the implementing agency, were facing increasing opposition from the affected communities.

“Representatives of SAVE Rivers, a Sarawak network set up to fight the Taib government’s dam plans, are currently embarking on a tour through Australia.

“The Hydro Tasmania-out-of-Sarawak tour is aimed at increasing the pressure on publicly-owned Hydro Tasmania, one of the most important corporate actors involved in the Sarawak dam plans,” it noted.

On Tuesday, Save Rivers chairman Peter Kallang said the tour aimed to enlighten Australians on the situation with the dams and urge the locals to pressure the Australian government into compelling Hydro Tasmania to rescind its decision to participate in the venture.

Flooding Borneo villages, with Australian help, rallies locals

CHRISTINE HORN AND ANDREW DODD | NOV 22, 2012 12:57PM

In Long San, a small community in the interior of Sarawak, a dam with the help of Australian firm Hydro Tasmania will flood villages. They’re trying to fight back, report Christine Horn and Andrew Dodd.

It was a casual comment that brought home the magnitude of the dam planned for this remote corner of Borneo.

We were having lunch at the headman’s house in Long San, a small community in the interior of Sarawak. Outside, the children, who were home from school for the holidays, were playing. There were the ubiquitous sounds of chickens and dogs in the background and it was hot and humid. The village is just one degree north of the equator.

“This community will be submerged by 168 metres of water,” said the person describing the project, “so yes, it’s a very big dam.”

Long San is on the mighty Baram River, the second longest river in Sarawak, and it’s easy to see how it and its hundreds of tributaries would quickly fill the valley, particularly during the rainy season. Depending on who you ask, the dam will be either half or all of the size of Singapore and will affect between 10,000 and 20,000 people in 34 villages like Long San.

The dam is one part of a government plan to attract foreign industries to Sarawak with the offer of cheap energy, since the scheme to sell the electricity to peninsular Malaysia or Singapore through a deep sea cable turned out not to be viable. At least 12 dams are planned, according to Anna Meier, who works for the Bruno Manser Fund, a Swiss NGO active in rural Sarawak. Two dams have already been completed: one is near completion, another site is ready to be flooded as soon as the communities who live in the area have been moved.

But the resettlement of the local indigenous people is fraught because so much has already gone wrong on a previous dam and at least some of the local people are sceptical.

The projects have been receiving coverage in some of the papers in peninsular Malaysia because a coalition of environment groups has just staged a march across the country in an attempt to present a petition to the federal government.

The issue is becoming more visible in Australia too because campaigners have arrived this week to draw attention to the role played by Hydro Tasmania, a consultancy firm which is supplying staff and technical expertise on this and other controversial dam projects in Sarawak (the link was divulged by SBS program Dateline). Maier claims that one of the officials seconded from Hydro Tasmania, Peter Pattle — who later became a senior manager at Sarawak Energy — recently downplayed concerns about safety and environmental issues in Sarawak.

Peter Kallang, who heads a local organisation called “Save Sarawak River Network” and is leading the delegation to Australia, thinks Hydro Tasmania should not do in Sarawak what it would not do at home. Kallang points out the industries that will be attracted by the dam’s cheap power will be high energy-consuming industries like aluminium smelters. The implication is that this is not the kind of development local people in Sarawak want.

But Kallang’s main argument is that the people are resisting the loss of their ancestral land on which they depend for survival. In Sarawak, indigenous communities have native customary rights to the land on which they live and farm padi (rice), and on which their fruit trees stand and where their ancestors are buried. In recent decades excessive logging has diminished the livelihoods of these communities, which are dependent on the forest. The conversion of logged forest to palm oil plantations has further reduced the amount of available forest. And now the dams.

Logging, plantations and the dam projects are among the strategies which the Sarawak government and chief minister Taib Mahmud promote as development for the rural regions. The three are connected: the same companies who are given the concessions to log the forest and which are converting land to palm oil plantations are also involved in the construction of the dam. And they are all linked to the companies owned by the chief minister and his extended family, according to Maier.

The issues have been made public by lobby organisations but aren’t widely known in Sarawak. Local newspapers are owned by the same companies and can have their licenses revoked by the government.

The situation in the indigenous communities has been difficult due to the lack of roads, electricity, schools and clinics in the villages. There are few opportunities to earn a cash income, and high rural-to-urban migration rates, but it seems the dam issue is now rallying the local people. In Long San, posters, banners and graffiti reveal how villagers feel about the dam and how their support for the opposition party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat, is growing. The current governing party coalition has held political power since the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963; Mahmud has been chief minister of Sarawak since 1982. The next election results will show the extent of local discontent in Sarawak.

In the meantime the fight for the Baram promises to become extremely contentious.

Source: http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/11/22/flooding-borneo-villages-with-australian-help-rallies-locals/

‘Orang Ulus just want to be consulted’

by Jonathan Chia, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on November 22, 2012, Thursday



DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL: Abu Bakar (second left) reads out to Taib the proposals by the Orang Ulu community. Also seen are Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang (left) and Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, who is also Baram MP, Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan (right). — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: The Orang Ulu community in Baram supports the proposed Baram hydroelectric dam project, but they want to be consulted as this project directly affects their lives.

Orang Ulu National Association (Ouna) president Datuk Abu Bakar Abdullah said his people never objected to the project per se as they knew it would benefit Baram in the long run.

“We want the state government to proceed with the construction of this hydroelectric dam project because it will bring development to us,” he told The Borneo Post at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) here yesterday.

He had earlier led 150 Orang Ulus from throughout the state, including 30 community leaders, to pay a courtesy call on Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at the august House.

“If the project is shelved, our people will continue to face problems in terms of roads and electricity.”

Abu Bakar said he believed that a Baram complete with all basic infrastructure would also help stem the flow of rural-urban migration.

He stressed that talks and reports about the Orang Ulu community objecting to the dam project was erroneous.

“They only wanted to be consulted since this mammoth project would affect their lives. If possible, we want the state government to take into account the people’s opinions before they proceed with the project.”

On another matter, Abu Bakar said his community would also like the state government to consider appointing community leaders from the Orang Ulu community in Kuching, Sibu, Kapit, Bintulu, Miri and Limbang since a lot from them had migrated to these areas.

“We also need a Temenggong from the Kenyah community in Baram and Belaga.”

Abu Bakar opined that in order to spur economic activities and to enable the Orang Ulu community to progress, they hoped that the state government could provide agricultural aid to them.

“Besides that, we also want the state government to consider providing land and agricultural assistance to our people who had converted to Islam.”

Source: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/11/22/orang-ulus-just-want-to-be-consulted/#ixzz2D0OEOPu9

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Bruno Manser Fund report slams plans for 50 new dams in Malaysian Borneo

BRUNO MANSER FUND, BASEL / SWITZERLAND
22nd November 2012

Sarawak's indigenous people to pay the price for US$ 105 billion industrialization scheme

A new Bruno Manser Fund report exposes the Sarawak state government's excessive hydropower plans for the Malaysian part of Borneo - Bruno Manser Fund is calling for a moratorium on all dam construction after Bakun and for the withdrawal of foreign consultants from socially and environmentally damaging hydropower plans

(KUCHING, MALAYSIA) Tens of thousands of indigenous people from the rainforests of Borneo are facing forced displacement from their traditional lands on the basis of hydropower plans drawn up by the state government of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo.

A report released today by the Bruno Manser Fund entitled "Sold Down the River. How Sarawak Dam Plans Compromise the Future of Malaysia's Indigenous Peoples" examines the dam plans that form part of SCORE, Southeast Asia’s most ambitious and most expensive energy project, with planned investments of up to US$ 105 billion by 2030.

Cultural genocide

Under the guise of "development", the Sarawak state government under Chief Minister Taib Mahmud is planning to virtually dam all the rivers in the state's interior, irrespective of the social and environmental implications. The dam plans, which are being pushed ahead under a cloak of secrecy, constitute the core element of the so-called Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, SCORE. If implemented, they would entail the cultural genocide of a significant part of Sarawak's rich indigenous culture.

Indigenous cultures from Sarawak's interior, such as the Kayan, Kenyah, Penan and Kelabit, are likely to face extinction if the dam plans are implemented in full. But the dams are also likely to have serious negative repercussions on downstream Iban and Bidayuh communities. For centuries, the rivers of Borneo have been the lifeline of Sarawak's indigenous people. The planned Baram dam alone is estimated to be displacing 20,000 Borneo natives and flooding over 40,000 hectares of rainforests and farmlands.

A first series of 12 dams is currently being implemented by Sarawak Energy, the state's power monopolist. The report stresses the fact that Sarawak is already confronted with a power excess: the current peak demand in Sarawak is around 1000 megawatts (MW) and is thus far less than the power that can be produced by the recently completed Bakun dam alone, which, with a capacity of 2400 MW, is Asia’s largest dam outside China.

Foreign corporate actors' pact with the devil

The Bruno Manser Fund report discloses that many companies involved in the dam plans are closely linked to the family of Sarawak's long-term Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and to Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS), the flagship of the Taib family's business empire. Taib is currently under investigation for corruption by Malaysia's corruption watchdog, MACC.

In order to benefit from the strong investments linked to the Sarawak dam plans, foreign corporate actors, such as Australia's Hydro Tasmania, Snowy Mountains Engineering Company (SMEC), GHD, the US consultant MWH Global, Norway's Norconsult, Germany's Fichtner and construction companies such as China's Three Gorges Corporation and Sinohydro have concluded a "pact with the devil" and are assisting the Taib government with its momentous dam projects.

Key managerial positions within Sarawak Energy, the implementing agency of the dams, are held by foreigners, such as by the Norwegian CEO Torstein Dale Sj√łtveit and by the Australian dam project director Andrew Pattle, who has been seconded by Hydro Tasmania.

Funding agencies behind the Sarawak dam plans include Malaysian banks, such as RHB Bank, EON Bank and AmInvestment Bank, as well as Kuwait Finance House and Kenanga Investment Bank, which is a joint venture between the Taib family's Cahya Mata Sarawak (CMS) and Deutsche Bank.

Bruno Manser Fund calling for a moratorium

The Sarawak state government and Sarawak Energy as the implementing agency are facing increasing opposition from the affected communities against their excessive dam plans. Representatives of SAVE Rivers, a Sarawak network set up to fight the Taib government's dam plans, are currently embarking on a tour through Australia. The "Hydro Tasmania out of Sarawak" tour is aimed at increasing the pressure on publicly-owned Hydro Tasmania, one of the most important corporate actors involved in the Sarawak dam plans.
The Bruno Manser Fund is calling for a moratorium on all Sarawak dam construction and for an independent external review of the Bakun, Bengoh and Batang Ai dams. Sarawak Energy is asked to sack its chairman, Hamed Abdul Sepawi, the cousin of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, and to provide full transparency of its finances, contracts and funders. Foreign corporate actors are asked to shun SCORE, as any involvement in the Taib government's hydropower program is inextricably linked to corruption, environmental damage and human rights violations.

The full report entitled “Sold Down the River. How Sarawak Dam Plans Compromise the Future of Malaysia's Indigenous Peoples” is now available online at: http://www.stop-corruption-dams.org/resources/

For daily updates on the "Hydro Tasmania out of Sarawak tour", please consult: http://www.savesarawakrivers.com

- Ends -

Please contact us for more information:
Bruno Manser Fund
Socinstrasse 37
4051 Basel, Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74
www.bmf.ch, www.stop-corruption-dams.org

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Ngau says opposition lies about Baram Dam

Posted on November 21, 2012, Wednesday 

KUCHING: Reports that the people in Baram are against the construction of the proposed Baram hydroelectricity (HEP) Dam is a lie by the opposition, says Telang Usang assemblyman Dennis Ngau.

In fact the majority of the people of Baram, mostly from the Orang Ulu communities such as the Kayans, Kenyahs and Penans wanted the project as they saw that was one way they could benefit from the government development programme.

“But the opposition of the Baram HEP Dam employed scare tactics on the people saying that the dam would not be safe and that they would drown if the dam burst,” Ngau told The Borneo Post here Sunday.

He said those who opposed the construction of the dam was small in number and they were backed by several NGOs.

“For us, we based our feedback from the majority of the people in the area and representatives from all the 32 longhouses affected are in the committee we formed to handle the welfare of the affected people,” said Ngau.

He added that the chairman of the Baram Hydro Dam Consultative Committee was Baram MP Dato Jacob Dungau Sagan with himself as deputy.

Ngau reiterated that he would be fighting for his people for better benefits based on the Equator Principles or the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which said that the affected people would be getting proper housing, cash compensation and land for agriculture.

“As their representative, I want the best deals from the relevant authorities. I cannot be unfair to my own people,” assured Ngau, adding that the displaced people could choose the resettlement areas. He said only about 10,000 people from 32 longhouses would be affected by the dam and not 20,000 as claimed by some quarters.

Currently SEB has appointed a consultant to carry out the social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) reports and survey on the ground.

The project is expected to take off in 2018 and completed by 2020.

Ngau was commenting on some NGOs from his constituency who were in Kuala Lumpur to meet the federal government to air their grievances.

SAVE Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) which participated in the visit in Kuala Lumpur in its recent press statement claimed that the state government had acknowledged the failure of the Sg Asap resettlement for the Bakun mega-dam, while promising that mistakes would be rectified for subsequent mega-dams.

Unfortunately for the Penan and Kenyah communities of Murum, the same mistakes had been repeated it claimed.

The Save River members said none of the Barisan National MPs came to meet them even though an invitation had been sent to all MPs.

Source: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/11/21/ngau-says-opposition-lies-about-baram-dam/#ixzz2Cp6GmDjL

Masing stresses need for dams, better resettlement deals

Posted on November 21, 2012, Wednesday 

KUCHING: The state has to improve and redefine its resettlement programmes to ensure those displaced by constructions of dams are properly resettled and taken care of.

The call was made by Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing who said the state government had to build dams to generate enough energy to meet the needs of the people and industrial development.

Masing who is also Baleh assemblyman stated that the government would ensure all resettlement programmes were properly implemented.

“The government must ensure it does things correctly. The state needs these projects to generate electricity. We are aware of the need to do this properly so nobody loses.

“NGOs have their rights and can do whatever they want but I don’t think their reasons are valid for the state to consider seriously,” he told reporters when met after the second day of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here.

Masing was responding to The Sun online news report on Nov 19 on a coalition of NGOs calling to halt mega dam projects they claimed were taking over native customary rights (NCR) lands.

The Baram Protection Action Team (BPAT) and Save Sarawak River Network (SSRN) – which called their campaign ‘Damn the Dams Action Group’, tried to hand over a memorandum to the federal government to halt mega dam projects initiated.

These groups only managed to hand over the memorandum to DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

Masing said the capacity of solar and wind power energy could not match hydro power and the state could not generate enough energy for its needs from the two sources.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/11/21/masing-stresses-need-for-dams-better-resettlement-deals/#ixzz2Cp5gJqMA

Speaker shoots down 3 opposition motions

Posted on November 21, 2012, Wednesday
KUCHING: Three motions raised by the oposition members were dismissed on the second day of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting yesterday.

The motion by Ting Tze Fui (DAP-Meradong) on the implementation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) in Sarawak was dismissed on grounds that it is under the purview and jurisdiction of the Federal Government.

“The fact that the law on AES had been tabled, debated and approved in the Dewan Rakyat with conclusive proofs beyond any shadow of doubt,” said DUN speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar.

According to the motion’s preamble, upon full operation of the AES in the nation, a total of 831 AES cameras are to be set up nationwide, 28 of them in Sarawak.

Meanwhile, Asfia said that the stand taken by the state government on the AES system was summed up by a memorandum by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Communication.

The localities of the AES system is based on studies conducted by the Malaysia Road and Safety Research (MyROS), the Ministry of Transport and Road Transport Department (JPJ).

“JPJ Malaysia will also officially inform and brief the state and respective road authorities or agencies prior to the implementation of AES in the state,” said Asfia.

He concluded that until the state had been informed and briefed on the implementation of AES, it was premature to discuss the subject.

The second motion which was dismissed came from Wong Ho Leng (DAP- Bukit Assek) who wanted the Dewan to cancel the construction of the 12 proposed hydroelectric dams as it would affect the livelihood of the indigenous people.

According to Asfia, the motion was dismissed as it could be sub-judice to the 22 cases which were fixed for hearing in the sessions court Jan next year.

“These 22 cases are in connection on land compensation as a result from land acquisition from Bakun dam,” said Asfia.

The third motion from Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Kota Sentosa) was also dismissed on grounds that the motion was based on a London based magazine on Nov 3, 2012.

“Question shall not be asked to verify statements in the press or private individuals or unofficial bodies are accurate,” said Asfia referring to the first preamble of the motion which quoted the magazine.

Chong’s preamble quoted the magazine as saying that Sarawak had lost more than 90 per cent of its primary forest to logging and has the fastest rate of deforestation in Asia. Sarawak has only 0.5 per cent of the world’s tropical forest but accounted for 25 per cent of tropical-log exports in 2012.

He also said that the reports which were published by the magazine and satellite images captured by an environmental body was not verified and confirmed by the state’s legally established body on environment under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment or Department of Environment Malaysia.

Source: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/11/21/speaker-shoots-down-3-opposition-motions/#ixzz2Cp0fhHrh

Sarawak NGOs aim to ‘pressure’ Aussie govt

Joseph Tawie | November 20, 2012

Several Sarawak NGOs are collectively seeking to rope in their counterparts in Tasmania to help fight against the construction of more dams in Sarawak.


KUCHING: A coalition of Sarawak NGOs are extending their fight against the construction of the proposed Baram hydroelectric dam to Tasmania in Australia. Their aim is to inform Australians about Hydro Tasmania, a public company that is heavily involved in the development of mega dams in Sarawak.

According to Save Rivers network chairman Peter Kallang, the coalition will also be meeting with local campaigners in Tasmania fighting to save their forests from a Sarawak linked timber company.

“Together, we will inform the Australian people about Hydro Tasmania, a public company that is heavily involved in mega-dam development in Sarawak.

“We also plan to meet with the heads of Hydro Tasmania, and other Australian companies who are involved in Sarawak Corridor Renewal Energy (SCORE).

“We believe that Australians would not want an Australian state owned company such as Hydro Tasmania to be responsible for the destruction of livelihoods of indigenous peoples and the environment in Sarawak,” said Kallang in an email statement to FMT.

Kallang said Save Rivers wanted Hydro Tasmania to get out of Sarawak, and they would seek to ‘pressure’ the Australian government “to get them out”.

“We want the Australian public to pressure the Australian government to get them out (of Sarawak).

“The fight is not ours to fight alone, but together in solidarity with our friends in West Malaysia, Australia and the rest of the world,” he said.

Kallang said that Sarawak is embarking on a drastic social and economic change via an energy-intensive programme called the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy.

SCORE comprises at least 12 planned mega-dams which will displace tens of thousands of indigenous people.

The proposed Baram dam alone will displace 20,000 natives, and submerge more than 400 square kilometres of rainforest, he said.

Excess power

According to Kallang, currently, Sarawak has an excess of power where current peak demand in Sarawak lies at around 1,000 MW, yet Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) is planning for the installed power of up to 7,000MW by 2020.

The ultimate plan is to increase that to 28,000MW by 2030.

Kallang said that local communities displaced by current mega-dams in Sarawak still face many woes and unfulfilled promises.

“The Sarawak government has in particular acknowledged the failure of the Sungai Asap resettlement for the Bakun mega-dam, while promising that mistakes would be rectified for subsequent mega-dams.

“Unfortunately for the Penan and Kenyah communities of Murum, the same mistakes are being made,” he said, pointing out that the month-long blockades at Murum dam reflected on the failure of the Sarawak government to fully engage the local communities which were not in favour of the dams.

He also alleged that the Sarawak government had made a mockery of their claim that it had followed international standards such as the Equator Principles or the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Kallang said that Save Rivers had visited the Malaysian Parliament yesterday and called for an immediate halt to all planning works on further dams.

“SAVE Rivers is demanding for full transparency from the Sarawak government on SCORE.

“It is also calling for a state-wide dialogue on SCORE and development alternatives and is urging that the Sarawak government respect fully the rights of affected communities according to international standards, national and state laws,” Kallang added.

Speaker shoots down 3 opposition motions

Posted on November 21, 2012, Wednesday 

KUCHING: Three motions raised by the oposition members were dismissed on the second day of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting yesterday.

The motion by Ting Tze Fui (DAP-Meradong) on the implementation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) in Sarawak was dismissed on grounds that it is under the purview and jurisdiction of the Federal Government.

“The fact that the law on AES had been tabled, debated and approved in the Dewan Rakyat with conclusive proofs beyond any shadow of doubt,” said DUN speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar.

According to the motion’s preamble, upon full operation of the AES in the nation, a total of 831 AES cameras are to be set up nationwide, 28 of them in Sarawak.

Meanwhile, Asfia said that the stand taken by the state government on the AES system was summed up by a memorandum by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Communication.

The localities of the AES system is based on studies conducted by the Malaysia Road and Safety Research (MyROS), the Ministry of Transport and Road Transport Department (JPJ).

“JPJ Malaysia will also officially inform and brief the state and respective road authorities or agencies prior to the implementation of AES in the state,” said Asfia.

He concluded that until the state had been informed and briefed on the implementation of AES, it was premature to discuss the subject.

The second motion which was dismissed came from Wong Ho Leng (DAP- Bukit Assek) who wanted the Dewan to cancel the construction of the 12 proposed hydroelectric dams as it would affect the livelihood of the indigenous people.

According to Asfia, the motion was dismissed as it could be sub-judice to the 22 cases which were fixed for hearing in the sessions court Jan next year.

“These 22 cases are in connection on land compensation as a result from land acquisition from Bakun dam,” said Asfia.

The third motion from Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Kota Sentosa) was also dismissed on grounds that the motion was based on a London based magazine on Nov 3, 2012.

“Question shall not be asked to verify statements in the press or private individuals or unofficial bodies are accurate,” said Asfia referring to the first preamble of the motion which quoted the magazine.

Chong’s preamble quoted the magazine as saying that Sarawak had lost more than 90 per cent of its primary forest to logging and has the fastest rate of deforestation in Asia. Sarawak has only 0.5 per cent of the world’s tropical forest but accounted for 25 per cent of tropical-log exports in 2012.

He also said that the reports which were published by the magazine and satellite images captured by an environmental body was not verified and confirmed by the state’s legally established body on environment under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment or Department of Environment Malaysia.

Source: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/11/21/speaker-shoots-down-3-opposition-motions/#ixzz2Cp0fhHrh

Monday, 19 November 2012

'Damn the dams' or you're out, Sarawak natives tell PM



Kow Gah Chie 1:47PM Nov 19, 2012

Some 30 indigenous people and members of various NGOs today marched in the rain to Parliament to demand Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak put a stop to plans by the Sarawak government to construct 12 mega dams in the state.

Shouting their slogan “Damn the dams” in five languages and unfurling banners that read “stop Murum dam” and “Stop Baram dam”, the group started the 500 metre march at 10.30am from the Bukit Aman police headquarters.

The march, aimed at submitting a memorandum to the prime minister, was organised by two NGOs - Damn the Dams action group and Save Sarawak's Rivers Network (Save Rivers).

“We are here to ask the prime minister to stop them (the construction of the dams). If he can't do it, then we would replace him with another person who can,” said one of the seven Sarawak indigenous representatives Boyce Anyie, 60, from Kg Long Liam.

The seven are also part of Himpunan Hijau's 'long march' which is currently underway in Pahang to protest the Lynas rare-earth plant.

They left Himpunan Hijau's march temporary to join in today's march to Parliament.

Other participants in today’s march comprise activists from the peninsula including Damn the Dams action group spokeperson Ng Yap Hwa, Sarawak-based Save Rivers chairperson Peter Kallang and Baram Protection Action Committee chairperson Philip Jau.

Kallang stressed that Najib and the federal government have the power to shelve the 12 mega dam projects, but the question is whether the prime minister is willing to listen to the people's voice.

However, the march ended in disappointment as Najib was currently in Phnom Penh and BN did not send any representative to receive the memorandum, which was later handed over to Penang Chief Minister and Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng, representing Pakatan Rakyat.

In a press statement issued to reporters in Parliament, the group said they suspected that many development contracts under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, which consists of the 12 mega dams, have been given to family members of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Hence they demanded that Najib stop Taib and his family from grabbing the lands belonged to indigenous people.

“No matter who controls the power, they must stop these dams. If Najib cannot do it, then get another person to do it,” said Jau.

Lim pledged that once Pakatan takes over Putrajaya, it would reassess these projects based on environmental impact reports. However, he stressed that Pakatan must also take over the Sarawak state government to stop them.

PHOTO GALLERY

SAVE Rivers on campaign visit to the Malaysian Parliament, and Australia

19 November 2012

PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

KUALA LUMPUR: Sarawak is embarking on a drastic social and economic change via an energy-intensive programme called the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). The powerhouse of SCORE comprises at least twelve planned mega-dams which will displace tens of thousands of indigenous people. Baram dam alone will displace 20,000 natives, and submerge more than 400 square kilometres of rainforest.

Currently, Sarawak has an excess of power where current peak demand in Sarawak lies at around 1,000 MW, yet Sarawak Energy Berhad is planning for the installed power of up to 7,000MW by 2020. The ultimate plan is to increase that to 28,000MW by 2030.

Local communities displaced by current mega-dams in Sarawak still face many woes and unfulfilled promises. The Sarawak government has in particular acknowledged the failure of the Sungai Asap resettlement for the Bakun mega-dam, while promising that mistakes would be rectified for subsequent mega-dams. Unfortunately for the Penan and Kenyah communities of Murum, the same mistakes are being made. The months-long blockade at Murum dam reflects the failure of the Sarawak government in fully engaging the local communities who do not want the mega-dam in the first place.

The very international standards that Sarawak government claims to follow - such as the Equator Principles or the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) have been made a mockery. There has been no free, prior, informed consultations with indigenous peoples, lack of timely and appropriate social and environmental impact assessments and failure to respect the indigenous peoples’ right to self-determined development.

SAVE Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) was formed in late 2011 to coordinate and enhance a movement by the affected communities in opposing the proposed dams. With a network, any known information concerning the proposed dams and related issues are shared. The network is made very necessary in the light of the fact information related to the dam is not freely available even to the affected people.

We have since conducted many on-the-ground awareness raising activities (roadshows and workshops) with affected communities in the Baram and held protests throughout Sarawak and West Malaysia, handed over a petition to the Chief Minister with thousands of signatures saying no to Baram dam, and most recently visited the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office in Miri to lodge a corruption complaint against Torstein Dale Sjotveit, the CEO of Sarawak Energy Berhad.

Today, SAVE Rivers is visiting the Malaysian Parliament, to call for an immediate halt to all planning works on further dams. SAVE Rivers is demanding for full transparency from the Sarawak government on SCORE, calling for a state-wide dialogue on SCORE and development alternatives, and urging that the Sarawak Government respect fully the rights of affected communities according to international standards, national and state laws.

After the Parliament visit, SAVE Rivers is heading to Australia to meet, local campaigners in Tasmania, fighting to save their forests from a Sarawakian-linked timber company. Together, we will inform the Australian people about Hydro Tasmania, a public company that is heavily involved in mega-dam development in Sarawak. We also plan to meet with the heads of Hydro Tasmania, and other Australian companies who are involved in SCORE.

We believe that Australians would not want an Australian State owned Company such as Hydro Tasmania to be responsible to the destruction of livelihoods of indigenous peoples and the environment in Sarawak, and we hope to garner more support from our friends in Australia. We want Hydro Tasmania to get out of Sarawak, we want the Australian Government to get them out and we want pressure from the Australian public to get them out.

The fight is not ours to fight alone, but together in solidarity with our friends in West Malaysia, Australia and the rest of the world.

STATEMENT END

Press released by:
Peter Kallang
Chairman Save Rivers
Handphone: +60138331104


Peter Kallang sitting right



Philip Jau sitting left

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.

Questions For SEB’s Tasmanian Vice-President For Corporate Social Responsibility

10 Nov 2012

This post is also available in: Iban, Malay


‘Engaging’ – time Nick Wright, who is also in charge of Communications engaged with the public about SEB’s plans for the people of Sarawak?

Nick Wright is the Australian from Tasmania who acts as Vice President at Sarawak Energy Berhad in charge of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR).

In particular, he is in charge of the ‘re-settlement’ of tens of thousands of indigenous people due to be flooded from their homes by the damming of 12 major rivers.

So, surely it is time we heard from Nick about what he thinks of the appalling charade that has taken place in recent weeks with the response to the blockade at Murum by the local Penan people?

Five years after this dam project got under way and just a few months from completion, these people have still not been given their rights to proper negotiation and settlement.

These rights are internationally recognised under UN protocols signed by Australia and Malaysia and now over 60 Malaysian and International NGOs have signed petitions condemning the project.

Does Nick Wright consider it suitable that the response of the Sarawak authorities so far to the blockade has been to drag ‘representatives’ of the Penan to press conferences in order to present them with an arbitrary sum of money and declare the issue closed?

SAVE Rivers join Green March

12 November 2012

For Immediate Release

Sarawakians fighting against the 12 proposed mega-dams in the state will be joining environment activist, Wong Tack on a 14- day march from Kuantan to the parliament starting on November 13th.

Philip Jau, chairperson of the Baram Protection Action Committee, is leading a 12 members team, including three women, from Sarawak on this 300 km journey.

The Sarawak team is part of an environmental collective formed together to highlight green issues in the nation through the "Green March". Their partners include Himpunan Hijau, Raub Ban Cyanide Commitee, and Pengerang Coalition.

Philip Jau, the Chairman of Baram Protection Action Committee, plans to use this opportunity to inform and garner support from West Malaysians to stop the 12 mega-dams in Sarawak.

"Our participation in the Green March is also our way of showing solidarity to other communities facing similar battles in their backyard," Philip Jau added, noting that Kuantan is the birthplace of Himpunan Hijau or Green Rally, established to stop the rare earth finery in Gebeng, Kuantan and to provide a green platform for concerned citizens.

For more information please contact:
Peter Kallang
Chairman SAVE Rivers
+6013 833 1104








Global forum ‘no’ to mega dams in Sarawak

Joseph Tawie | November 6, 2012

Participants were appalled to hear that the widely accepted international standards for Social and Environmental Impact Assessments (SEIA) were not upheld.

KOTA KINABALU: Over 120 participants from 11 countries have unanimously rejected Sarawak’s 12 mega-dams plan citing the “inefficiency, failure and destruction” of similar projects across Southeast Asia.

The participants attended the recently concluded Southeast Asia Renewable Energy People’s Assembly (SEAREPA) held in Sandakan, Sabah.

In their declaration, participants stressed that they had discussed renewable energy concerns across the region and were deeply concerned by the construction of 12 planned mega-dams to power polluting industries in Sarawak.

“Across Southeast Asia, we have witnessed the inefficiency, failure and destruction caused by similar mega-dam projects.

“We have also witnessed the potential of community-based renewable energy projects and unanimously believe that instead of continuing to develop these mega-dams, there are many energy alternatives that are more efficient, environmentally friendly and socially and culturally inclusive.

“We have been deeply moved to hear the struggles of indigenous peoples of Sarawak. We are appalled to note that their rights continue to be overlooked and abused in the creation of these mega-dams and polluting industries,” participants said in their joint declaration which was emailed to FMT.

In a second declaration, SEAREPA participants, who were in Sandakan from Oct 29 to Nov 2, also unanimously voted to reject the ongoing development of the 944 Megawatt Murum Dam in Sarawak that will forcibly remove Penan and Kenyah Badeng indigenous villages, displacing 1,600 people.

Participants expressed disappointment that the widely accepted international standards of the Equator Principles that state the need for Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) for large scale projects at the planning stage were not upheld.

“The SEIA for the resettlement of the Murum Dam was only released after 75 per cent of the dam was completed.

“We call upon the Malaysian state of Sarawak to subscribe to guidelines as listed under the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that Malaysia is a signatory of.

“We also urge the government of Sarawak and international investors to consider the benefits of community-based renewable energy alternatives that are more efficient, environmentally friendly and culturally and socially inclusive.

“We stand in solidarity with the indigenous peoples of Sarawak currently struggling to protect their lands from impending destruction as a result of the construction of the Murum Dam,” participants said.

Bantahan projek Empangan Murum perlu diteruskan

K Pragalath | November 6, 2012

Antara sebab yang diketengahkan untuk membantah pembinaan Empangan Murum ialah ia melanggar Perisytiharan Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu berkenaan Hak Orang Asal.


PETALING JAYA: Penasihat Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) Dr Kua Kia Soong hari ini menyenaraikan sebab-sebab mengapa bantahan terhadap pembinaan Empangan Murum yang telah siap 80% perlu diteruskan.

Suaram merupakan antara 50 NGO yang menyokong perjuangan 1,600 anggota masyarakat Penan dari lapan buah kampung dan sekumpulan masyarakat Kenyah terhadap Empangan tersebut.

Menurut Kua, pembinaan empangan tersebut melanggar Perisytiharan Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu berkenaan Hak Orang Asal.

“Menurut perisytiharan tersebut, persetujuan untuk membina empangan dan memindahkan masyarakat asal perlu diperoleh oleh kerajaan sebelum projek dimulakan. Persetujuan masyarakat perlu diberikan dengan rela hati berdasarkan maklumat yang diberikan.

“Di dalam kes Bakun pun, laporan penempatan masih tidak diperoleh. Misi pencarian fakta oleh NGO di Kampung Asap mendapati proses penempatan semula dalam kes empangan Bakun telah dijalankan dalam keadaan yang teruk sekali.

Justeru itu, “kami menggelarnya ‘Janji kosong, Pembohongan Empangan.’ Ia melibatkan masyarakat yang unik seperti Ukit di Sarawak yang kehilangan budaya. Selain itu penilaian kesan sosial dan alam sekitar tidak diberikan.

“Laporan tersebut sepatutnya disiapkan sebelum empangan siap dibina. Pakej ganti rugi juga dikatakan tidak mencukupi. Pihak kerajaan menyediakan elaun bulanan di bawah tahap kemiskinan selama empat tahun.

“Masyarakat Penan menuntut pampasan sebanyak RM500,000 untuk setiap keluarga dan 30 hektar tanah untuk sebuah kampung dan 25 hektar tanah untuk setiap keluarga sebagai ganti rugi.

Kua menambah bahawa beliau melihat kegagalan dalam pembinaan empangan di Sarawak bermula dengan Empangan Batang Ai dan Empangan Bakun pada sekitar tahun 1990an yang melibatkan 10,000 penduduk.

“Kerajaan Sarawak masih tidak belajar dari kesilapan lepas dan masih memindahkan orang Asal,” kata beliau.

Perubahan iklim

Beliau turut mengkritik pembinaan Empangan Murum dan 11 empangan lain di bawah projek Koridor Tenaga Yang Diperbaharui Sarawak (Score).

“Ia bukan tenaga yang boleh diperbaharui kerana pengeluaran gas dari empangan tersebut akan menyumbang kepada perubahan iklim,” katanya.

Selain itu beliau berhujah bahawa kerajaan tidak menjalankan kajian strategik untuk mengetahui jumlah tenaga yang diperlukan dari empangan-empangan di Sarawak.

“Contohnya di Empangan Bakun, kabel tidak dipasang dengan betul untuk mengalirkan bekalan elektrik ke Semenanjung Malaysia. Ia ditutup kerana kerajaan mahu menjemput industri toksik untuk beroperasi di kawasan Score.

“Di Barat empangan hidroelektrik tidak lagi menjadi pilihan untuk menjana tenaga.

“Projek mega seperti pembinaan empangan membuka ruang kepada rasuah dan kemusnahan hutan. Empangan Bakun melibatkan pemusnahan kawasan seluas Singapura iaitu 70,000 hektar manakala Empangan Murum pula melibatkan 24,000 hektar,” katanya.

Kua menyatakan Sarawak sepatutnya menggunakan pilihan lain seperti projek hidro elektrik mini, sel volteks dan projek solar yang tidak melibatkan pemindahan Orang Asal. Pengeluaran tenaga elektrik di Sarawak melebihi permintaan.

“Sarawak memerlukan 1100 Mw dan Empangan Bakun sahaja sudah mengeluarkan 2000 Mw. Bank Dunia menyatakan kita memerlukan tenaga simpanan sebanyak 25% tetapi simpanan kita sebanyak 45%,” kata Kua.

Sementara itu, Ng Yap Hwa dari Kumpulan Budaya LLG berkata pihaknya mensasarkan untuk mendapatkan 10,000 tandatangan di dalam laman web Sarawak Report dan RM5,000 sebagai bantuan kewangan masyarakat Penan tersebut.

Pihak yang mahu menawarkan bantuan kewangan menghantar wang kepada akaun Borneo Resource Institute Sarawak (Brimas) bernombor 110270010017894 di Alliance Bank, Miri.

Ng menambah bahawa beliau juga bercadang memberi latihan kepada masyarakat umum untuk meningkatkan kesedaran mereka terhadap isu yang dihadapi masyarakat Penan.

Justeru itu katanya, satu sesi latihan akan dijalankan pada hari Jumaat ini jam 8 malam di Dewan Perhimpunan Cina Kuala Lumpur dan Selangor.

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.

‘Ensure interests of Baleh community protected’

Posted on November 3, 2012, Saturday

KAPIT: Any development surrounding the proposed Baleh Hydroelectric Dam must ensure the interests of the local community are protected, said Baleh Development Committee spokesman Bujal Jantai.

During a dialogue on the proposed dam on Thursday, he pointed out that the people of Baleh were not against the project.

“We don’t reject the proposed Baleh Hydroelectric Dam, but our local interests must be assured. Being the stakeholders, we want transparency in the implementation of the project,” he said.

“It should comply with the local sentiments and expectations provided that the government and Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) can fulfil the terms and conditions set by the locals.”

He called on those concerned with the development to consult the local community through proper channels such as the Baleh Development Committee, dialogues with the locals and community leaders, as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Bujal stressed that Baleh folk wanted details such as the social impact, opportunities, sustainability of economic development, provision of basic amenities, as well as health and education programmes.

“Our main concern is future economic development for the locals. This must be taken care of before the said agencies are allowed to enter our areas. We don’t want any empty promises, we need to see, feel and touch the reality of it,” he said.

“The road to Putai must be constructed first, then we can talk about the development in our area.”

He said that many locals were experienced technically and also keen to explore possible business opportunities.

“Local business entities should be given priority based on their capabilities. The Baleh area is unique and outstanding where there are many capable businessmen around.

“Any business opportunities should be shared with the local contractors and suppliers. DUBS (Sarawak Bumiputera Chamber of Commerce) Kapit, Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kapit and Baleh Development Committee should be consulted on this matter,” added Bujal.

Source: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/11/03/ensure-interests-of-baleh-community-protected/#ixzz2Ck9LJWTd

Consultant to study Baleh hydroelectric dam

Posted on November 3, 2012, Saturday

KAPIT: A consultant has been appointed to run a series of Social Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) studies on the proposed Baleh Hydroelectric Dam over a period of one year.

Kapit Resident Dahim Nadot said Chemsain Konsultant Sdn Bhd will get feedback from those directly affected by the project and government agencies.

“Today is a very important day for the development of Kapit Division as it marks the beginning of the serious planning by the state government through SEB – Sarawak Energy Bhd – for the proposed Baleh Hydro Dam,” he said when chairing an SEIA meeting recently.

He explained that the SEIA would cover 37 longhouses from Nanga Baleh to Long Singguh.

Dahim suggested a local consultative committee be formed comprising community leaders and intellectuals from the area affected by the project.

The committee, he said, would serve as a link between locals and the government to ensure that the interests of those affected are taken into consideration in the consultant’s report.

Dahim added that the general feedback from the meeting was that the people welcomed the project wholeheartedly and were looking forward to benefit from the spin-offs in terms of employment and business opportunities.

A dialogue between community leaders and government agencies followed the meeting.

The proposed Baleh Hydroelectric Dam is expected to generate 1,280MW and the total area to be submerged is 526km square or 52,600ha.

Source: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/11/03/consultant-to-study-baleh-hydroelectric-dam/#ixzz2Ck8yp3Wq

Masing to critics: Show us a better alternative

by Peter Sibon, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on November 8, 2012, Thursday



CLEAN ENERGY: Map of Sarawak indicating the sites of the 12 proposed HEP dams. (Inset) Tan Sri James Jemut Masing.

KUCHING: Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing has challenged critics of the state’s hydroelectricity programme to come up with better alternative source of energy.

“I would like to throw a challenge at them (critics) on two fronts. Firstly, please provide us with the best source of alternative power besides fossil fuel, and secondly, they have to stop breathing if they criticise just for the sake of criticising,” Masing told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

He was commenting on South-East Asia Renewable Energy People’s Assembly (Searepa)’s fierce criticism over the weekend of the state government’s intention to develop 12 dams to support the mammoth Sarawak Corridor of renewable Energy (Score).

These dams are to produce some 20,000 megawatt of electricity by 2030 to push the state to full industrialisation status.

SCORE is expected to employ some 1.5 million workers and would attract some RM300 billion worth of investments.

Searepa, during its regional meeting in Kota Kinabalu which was attended by more than 120 participants representing 11 nations in South-East Asia, made a declaration to reject the development of these 12 proposed dams.

It also urged the state government to abide by international standards in protecting indigenous people.
Searepa also said that it had discussed renewable energy problems in the nation and claimed that it was concerned with the construction of the mega dams to power polluting industries in the state.

“Across South-East Asia, we have witnessed the inefficiency, failure, and destruction caused by similar mega-dam projects. We have also witnessed the potential of community-based renewable energy projects and unanimously believe that instead of continuing to develop these mega-dams, there are many energy alternatives that are more efficient, environmentally friendly, and socially and culturally inclusive,” Searepa was quoted as saying.
Masing said the state government decided to focus on hydroelectricity as it was deemed to be the best choice when compared to other renewable energy such as solar and nuclear.

“Hydro-electricity is renewable and clean. What better source of energy do we have when we do not have the capability to develop our solar energy? On top of that, we are also unable to venture into nuclear energy as it could be very expensive and destructive.”

Masing reiterated that the state government would build the 12 mega dams as and when they were needed. “The 12 proposed dams are just the potential number of dams that could produce electricity on a commercial scale. At the moment, we don’t have to develop all of them.”

So far, out of the 12 proposed HEP dams, the state had built two: Bakun (2,400 MW) and the 70 per cent completed Murum (944 MW).

The remaining 10 on the drawing board are Lawas (50 MW), Limbang (150 MW), Tutoh (220 MW), Baram (1,000 MW), Belepeh (110 MW), Metwajah (300 MW), Belaga (260 MW), Linau (290 MW), Baleh/Putai (1400 MW), and Ulu Air (54 MW).

Source: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/11/08/masing-to-critics-show-us-a-better-alternative/#ixzz2Ck8O3BRn

Penans affected by Murum HEP receive RM4.37 mln payout

by James Ling, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on November 3, 2012, Saturday

KAPIT: The payment of RM4.37 million last Tuesday to 371 families from seven of the eight villages affected by the Murum hydroelectric dam project represents yet another ‘promise fulfilled’ by the government.

Six of the seven villages are Penan villages, and the other a Kenyah-Badeng one. The Penan settlements are at Long Malim, Long Singu, Long Tangau, Long Luar and Long Menapa, while the Kenyah-Badeng settlement is at Long Malim.

Museum Department director Ipoi Datan said the payment was for ‘penti pemali’ (payment for rituals) for those graves which would be inundated when the dam, which is about 70 per cent completed, is inundated.

On hand to witness the payment were Assistant Minister of Penan Affairs Datuk John Sikie Tayai and Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage Liwan Lagang.

Also present at the cash payout sessions which were held at Long Malim, Long Menapa and Long Singu were political secretaries to the chief minister Angeline Umis and Richard Wills, Kapit Resident Dahim Nadot and Belaga District Officer Abdul Halim Abdullah.

Ipoi said the government decided to make the payment following two negotiations with the affected Penans in Bintulu and Kuching last month over the blockade erected.

He said delay in paying the ‘penti pemali’ was cited by the Penans as one of the reasons for erecting the blockade which disrupted work at the dam.

A similar payout involving RM1.51 million was also made by the government through the Museum Department to Penans from Long Wat, which is located nearest to the dam, in August this year.

Source: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/11/03/penans-affected-by-murum-hep-receive-rm4-37-mln-payout/#ixzz2Ck7rU7o3

No to toxic waste treatment facility in Sarawak

MIRI; Nov 1st 2012: SAVE Rivers is against the proposal made by the Tokuyama Ltd. to have a scheduled waste treatment facility in Sarawak. The public has been misled in the beginning about the plans of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy or SCORE: the name itself is deceiving because the industries proposed for SCORE are not renewable energy.

One of such industries includes Tokuyama’s plans to produce polycrystalline silicon where toxic waste is a by-product.

SAVE Rivers fears the impact of such polluting industries in our state, including the treatment and disposal of toxic waste. These industries are the reason why twelve mega-dams are planned for Sarawak which would displace thousands of indigenous people. The mega-dams are built to power these industries, and not to provide cheap electricity to the people who need it the most.

However, rural communities are not the only people to be negatively affected by SCORE. People living in Bintulu and other neighbouring towns will be affected by the expansion of Samalaju Industrial Park to include new polluting industries.

Serious health concerns such as breathing difficulties, coughing, headaches, skin rashes/sores, dizziness, asthma have been reported by the community of Balingian, Mukah where an aluminium smelter plant by Press Metal has been operating since early 2009.

Nearby rivers have been polluted, and the residents of Balingian have to resort to buying bottled water because rainwater has been affected by the toxic smog produced by the aluminium smelter plant.

This would be a reality for the people in Bintulu and other places in Sarawak where such polluting industries would be located. Currently, Mukah faces negative environment impact from dual polluting industries of aluminium smelter and coal fuel powered plant.

Since the commencement of SCORE, there has been no public transparency about its secretive plans such as its intentions on how to treat and dispose huge amounts of toxic waste.

SAVE Rivers also calls for an explanation of the retrenchment of over 800 employees of Sanmina-SCI. There is grave concern that SCORE cannot deliver its promise of jobs when current multi-national industries in the state are retrenching hundreds of Sarawakians. SCORE has been promoted as delivering millions of jobs yet there is great uncertainty that these jobs are neither viable nor sustainable for our people.

We are concerned that the state government is not able to stand by its people when they are retrenched by the multi-national companies that the state government has brought in.

SAVE Rivers therefore calls for greater transparency in our state government, and we ask, development for whom? SCORE is not development for the people of Sarawak.

It is time for a real discourse on the development that Sarawakians want.

- End –

Statement by:
Peter Kallang,
Chairperson of SAVE Rivers.
For more information please contact Peter Kallang at +60138331104

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Baram villagers showed displeasure towards their Community Chiefs for supporting the proposed Baram Dam in Long Lama

31 October 2012

For Immediate Release

LONG LAMA, BARAM – About 450 villagers made up of different ethnic groups from all over Baram gathered at a normally sleepy town of Long Lama on 29 October 2012 to demonstrate peacefully and show their displeasure towards some of their community leaders for supporting the proposed Baram Hydro Electric Project (HEP).

Banners and placards stating Stop Baram Dam and Stop Mega Dams were unfurled during the demonstration followed by cries from the villagers to call on the government and the relevant authorities to listen to their pleas.

The demonstration started at around 10.00 am, outside the Long Lama Sub-District Office and then the villagers proceeded to march around town shouting slogans “Stop Baram Dam” in the different ethnic Orang Ulu dialects.

Police presence in Long Lama was heavy including a police helicopter flying overhead scanning the situation on the ground. It was learnt that there were about 100 police personnel assigned with also a few riot police being mobilised. However, no untoward incident happened and the demonstration proceeded smoothly with the crowd only dispersing about an hour later.

A reliable source also mentioned that the crowd could have been bigger but certain timber camp managers around Baram told their employees not to come down to Long Lama town.Philip Jau, Chairman of Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC) addressed the crowd saying that the majority of the people in Baram reject the proposed Baram HEP and the community leaders should not be made used by certain politicians in the government with vested interest.

“Our Ketua Masyarakat (Community Leaders) should stand strong and listen to the peoples’ concerns instead of being easily manipulated by politicians with vested interest in this project. Do not abuse our community leaders,” Philip said.

Supporters of Temenggong Pahang numbering about 90 people did a counter demonstration inside the Long Lama Sub-District Office. The 90 people comprised mostly headmen and community leaders including Senator Lihan Jok and the State Assemblymen for Telang Usan, Dennis Ngau.

Prior to the demonstration, the Native Court presided by a Community Chief, Penghulu Lenjau Kuleh heard the case brought by Dorus Katan from Long Tap, Akah against anotherCommunity Chief of the Orang Ulu Community, Temenggong Pahang Deng for violating the Adet or customs of the Kayan-Kenyah community for lying.

The Native Court proceedings was initiated by Dorus after failing to get Temenggong Pahang to retract his statement in the Borneo Post article dated 18 May 2012 under the headline “Community Support for Baram Dam, A Federation of Orang Ulu Association Malaysia delegation conveys backing for project at a meeting with state leaders”.

In the article, Temenggong Pahang was quoted as saying that “After initial misgivings, the people who will be affected by the Baram Hydro Electric Project (HEP) have collectively agreed to give their support to its implementation.”

This statement according to Dorus is wrong, false and misleading and have created a lot of confusion and anger among the majority of the Orang Ulu community in Baram.

The case however, was struck out due to a technicality.

According to Dorus, he will review the Court’s decision by consulting legal experts and will decide soon on the next course of action.

- End –

Press Statement released by:
Mark Bujang
Secretary, SAVE Rivers

For more information please contact Philip Jau at +60168597738.


Demonstrators against the dam gathering outside the Long Lama Sub-District Office




Counter demonstration from Temenggong Pahang's supporters within the compound of the Long Lama Sub-District Office




Anti-dam demonstrators marching towards Long Lama town




Demonstrators marching around Long Lama town. Philip Jau 4th from left with loud hailer

Murum Dam: Listen to the Penans

October 31, 2012

The Penan communities affected by the Murum Dam have shown a commitment to defend their rights and Malaysians must give them full support.

COMMENT


By Kua Kia Soong

The Penans have been blockading against the construction of the 944MW Murum Dam since Sept 26, 2012. More than 1,600 Penans from eight Penan villages (including one Kenyah Badeng longhouse) are affected by the construction of the dam which is now about 70% completed.

Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), contractors and private companies involved in the project have been forced to use ferryboats or tugboats through the Bakun Dam reservoir to transport goods, machines, building materials etc. to the Murum Dam site.

This is a new and different factor compared to the campaign against the Bakun dam in previous years.

While we had built a campaign against the Bakun Dam in the past, there was no action by the indigenous peoples affected on a scale comparable to the Murum Dam blockade.

The Penan communities affected by the Murum Dam have shown a commitment to defend their rights and Malaysians must give them full solidarity and support their struggle in all possible ways.

The Murum Penan communities are among the poorest in Malaysia. They have traditionally been hunter-gatherers but shifted to a more settled, agriculture-based way of life approximately 40 years ago.

They rely on subsistence-based farming and hunting, fishing and gathering of forest products and the occasional sale of in-season fruit. Their livelihood has been adversely affected by low farm productivity and rapidly declining forest resources because of plantation and dam building projects.

The Bakun Dam fiasco

The Sarawak state government with federal government support, has been carrying out highly irresponsible economic projects to the detriment of the environment, the indigenous peoples’ lives and the long-term interest of the Sarawak and Malaysian tax payers.

The 2,400MW Bakun Dam project has already proven to be a major fiasco not only in terms of insufficient demand for its electricity generated but a disaster for the 10,000 indigenous peoples who were displaced from their traditional ancestral land to the slum conditions of the resettlement scheme at Sg. Asap.

Those who cherish their heritage and human rights would describe their fate as ethnocide if they have seen for themselves the conditions at Sg. Asap.

The total energy demand in the whole of Sarawak is only 1,000MW so the government has been trying to attract the biggest energy guzzlers such as aluminium smelters which happen to be the most toxic as well.

Another investment is a coal-fired power station to take up the excess energy. These environmentally polluting industries are then touted as part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score).

In fact, hydro-electric power dams and toxic aluminium smelters are all industries rejected by the developed countries.

None of these countries, especially Australia, wants to have toxic industries in their own backyard. But the Sarawak state government is willing to have these mega projects for rather dubious purposes.

The desperate chase for investments to take up the excess Bakun energy after the dam has been built shows a total lack of economic feasibility studies which should have been done before the dam was built.

Is it surprising therefore that many Score contracts have been given to companies owned by members of Chief Minister Taib’s family?

As if this Bakun Dam fiasco was not enough, the Sarawak state government intends to build 12 mega dams in all which will strip the state of its rainforest and displace even more indigenous communities.

Violating international standards

The Murum Dam is the first of these 12 dams. The dam construction is being supervised by China Three Gorges Corporation and built by Chinese dam builder Sinohydro.

After their massive investments in the Three Gorges project, you can be sure these Chinese companies are hungry for investments in other hydropower projects in Sarawak.

With such a large development scheme, international best practice calls for a “strategic environmental and social assessment.”

Such an assessment looks at the overall impact that a large development scheme can have as was done for the proposed “Greater Mekong Sub-region” energy network by the Asian Development Bank.

No such strategic economic, environmental and social assessment has been conducted for Score.

If the Bakun Dam project is to be any guide, the Sarawak government’s energy demand forecasts appear to be based more on nothing more than wishful thinking rather than detailed feasibility studies.

Malaysian taxpayers, be warned that all these mega projects will entail an onerous debt burden on the Sarawak and Malaysian public. You can be sure that there will be electricity tariff hikes after the 13th general election.

There are many energy alternatives for Sarawak beyond large hydroelectric power projects such as small-scale hydropower, solar and other forms of renewable energy, energy efficiency measures, more efficiently run and managed power plants, among others.

Above all, such environmentally friendly power projects respects the indigenous peoples’ lifestyles while efforts can put into helping them with better transport systems, marketing channels and other forms of development they may require.

The Murum Dam project is in violation of the international standards on indigenous rights as guaranteed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), of which Malaysia is a signatory.

The Murum Dam is nearing completion but the resettlement report is still being withheld.

As for the Bakun Dam, all studies related to the projects have not been transparent. The affected Penan and Kenyah have stated that they have never been asked for consent as demanded by the UNDRIP.

The project developer, Sarawak’s state-owned electricity generating company, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) has not provided indigenous communities with an opportunity to grant or withhold their “free, prior and informed consent” for the project as required by UNDRIP.

Even in cases where there was agreement, however, it was neither free from coercion; the resettlement plan was not made known to the indigenous peoples prior to the start of the construction, and they were not informed by access to information about the project’s impacts.

The social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) for the Murum project is seriously flawed.

International standards—including the Equator Principles and the IFC Performance Standards—universally require that the SEIA must be completed during the design phase, before the government approves the project and before construction begins.

This was not the case with the Murum Dam Project. The SEIA process did not even begin until after construction on the project was already underway. The Sarawak government has not yet disclosed the Murum Dam Project’s SEIA to the public or to the affected communities.

The indigenous peoples’ demands

Without transparent access to the crucial information at the centre of this project, the affected communities were placed in an unfair situation when the Sarawak government asked them to negotiate a resettlement package.

The monthly allowance to be paid after resettlement falls below the poverty level and ends after four years.

However, the state government turned down the other demands of the Penan, which included compensation of RM500,000 for each family for the loss of their customary land.

Their other demands were 30,000 hectares of land for every village, 25 hectares for every farming family, education for their children, a community development fund and rights to their land that is not submerged by the dam waters.

The indigenous communities affected by the Murum Dam project have already issued a memorandum describing how the government could still remedy the situation.

Support the Murum indigenous peoples now! Sign the Murum Appeal at http://www.sarawakreport.org/murum-appeal or atsaveriversnet@gmail.com. You can support their blockade by donating to their cause at these two websites.

Kua Kia Soong is human rights NGO Suaram adviser.