SAVE Rivers

SAVE Rivers

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Cartoon on Murum Dam issue by Zunar

Video showing peaceful protest against Sarawak dams outside Parliament

‘We did not instigate Penans’

Penans staged blockades on their own will, and reports of Sarawak Energy contractors burning their old longhouses came directly from the victims, claims SAVE Rivers Network.

Winston Way | September 26, 2013

KUCHING: A Sarawak-based NGO which has been accused of instigating Penans to stage blockades against the Murum HEP has hit back at the Sarawak Energy Board (SEB).

SAVE Rivers Network chairman Peter Kallang said: “It’s a lie. SEB is trying to paint the picture that we (the NGOs) are trying to instigate the people there.

“In fact, we were never even there.”

Sarawak DAP MPs had a press Conference on Murum Dam issue on Thursday 26 September 2013

Photo: DAP Sarawak MPs had press conference this morning at Parliament regarding Murum Dam issue.

Kuala Lumpur Protest in solidarity with the Murum folks

We in the SAVE Rivers Network are in full support of this initiative on 26th September 2013, taken by our friends from Peninsular Malaysia which is in solidarity with the people of Murum.

On behalf of those who are dissatisfied with the treatment given to them by Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) and Sarawak’s State government, a group of Murum folks comprising of Penans and Kenyah are protesting on the access road to the Murum dam. Their demand has so far not been met by SEB and the government. Although a majority of villagers have not been displaced, Sarawak Energy Berhad have started impounding the dam starting on Saturday 21st September 2013.

We demand that where negations are required, the affected communities must be given the freedom to appoint their own spokesmen including any professional support.

We urge that Sarawak Energy Berhad and the Sarawak State government to respect all aspect of human rights including the United Nation Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Malaysian Constitution with respect to the indigenous peoples.

We demand that the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak to intervene and stop the impoundment of Murum. Impound should start only after all the issues pertaining to human rights are resolved and the demand by the communities are satisfactorily addressed and agreed by all parties concerned.

Yours Faithfully,

Peter Kallang
Chairman SAVE Rivers

It’s all lies, says Sarawak Energy blaming NGOs and outsiders for tarnishing reputatio

SEPTEMBER 25, 2013

Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB), the state power company that has come under fire from foreign and domestic non-governmental organisations over its hydroelectric dam projects, has denied various claims made by NGOs over its Murum hydroelectric dam in Belaga in recent days.

Calling such claims as “lies” and an attempt to create panic among the people affected by the project, SEB said it is the work of certain NGOs and outsiders to smear the image of the company, the state of Sarawak and to sabotage the concerted efforts that went into bringing development to the people.

Indigenous Penan continue protesting as Murum dam begins to fill

Penan blockading against the Murum dam since last week (Photo courtesy BMF)
By John Ahni Schertow • Sep 24, 2013

A large group of Penan Peoples have reinstated a blockadeagainst the controversial Murum dam in the Malaysian state of Sarawak.

The blockade originally began in September 2012, when the Penan and Kenyah heard that they would be forced off their lands without fair compensation to make way for the dam’s reservoir.

‘Sarawak Energy workers committed arson’

SAVE Rivers Network chairman claims workers from state electricity board burnt down a village and sunk boats of the villagers.
Winston Way | September 24, 2013

KUCHING: An NGO leader today claimed workers from the Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) committed arson on a Penan village in Belaga while several boats belonging to the natives were sunk, prior to the unexpected impoundment of the Murum Dam.

SAVE Rivers Network chairman Peter Kallang made this allegation through his latest Facebook post yesterday.

“Latest from Murum. Long Watt Penan village burnt down. Arson suspected workers from Sarawak Energy Bhd. Boats belonging to the Penans were also sunk (sic). This followed the unannounced impoundment of the dam,” posted Peter on his Facebook page.

The suspected arson was front-paged in local dailies today. The reports said the longhouse at the former Long Wat settlement, about four hours from the Murum Dam site, was allegedly set on fire by unknown persons over the weekend.

The assumed arson was discovered by villagers returning to the settlement to collect their belongings and livestock to be taken to their new homes at Tegulang, according to a local daily here, which quoted Sarawak Conservation Alliance of Natural Environment (SCANE) chairman Raymond Abin.

“When they went there, they were shocked to see their longhouse had been set on fire by someone. They are not sure who were the culprits.

“Basically they have moved, but their property and livestock were left behind because they moved in a rush. According to them, a lot of them had to move in the evening when it was already dark so everything was rushed,” he said.

The villagers told Raymond that a fire had consumed the whole longhouse structure but the full extent of the damage has yet to be estimated. The villagers also suspected that the fire was started on Saturday, the day the dam’s impoundment began.

Apart from the fire, a number of boats and engines belonging to the Long Wat Penans have also been damaged by rising water levels due to the impoundment.

Peter Kallang was also quoted by the same daily that SAVE Rivers Networks had received information that there were about 100 protesters at the dam site.

The 89 families of Long Wat were the first batch of Penans who were moved out of their villages to new resettlements, while about 264 families from six other Penan villages and one Kenyah village had yet to relocate.

The impoundment of the Murum Hydro Electric Power (HEP) Dam started when the outlet river diversion tunnel was closed at 8.25pm on Saturday.

SEB consequently confirmed the start of the impoundment, with a source from the company saying the whole procedure would take around a year for the water to accomplish sufficient capacity for the dam to generate power.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Penan longhouse in Murum burnt down, arson suspected

by Joanna Yap, Posted on September 24, 2013, Tuesday

KUCHING: The longhouse at the former Long Wat settlement, about 4 hours from the Murum HEP dam site, was reportedly set on fire by persons unknown over the weekend.

The suspected act of arson was discovered by villagers who had returned to the settlement to collect their belongings and livestock to take with them to their new homes at Tegulang, according to Sarawak Conservation Alliance of Natural Environment (SCANE) chairman Raymond Abin who received the news from the villagers yesterday afternoon.

URGENT: Humanitarian crisis in Sarawak as dam empoundment destroys Penan villages - Long Watt burned down in suspected arson

24 September 2013 at 09:57

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends,

We have just received the sad news from Sarawak, Malaysia, that the state's electricity monopolist, Sarawak Energy, has started the impoundment of the 944 MW Murum dam in Sarawak without prior notice given to the six Penan villages of Long Wat, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu and Long Malim. According to community sources contacted by Sarawak's SAVE Rivers network, the outlet river diversion tunnel has been closed on Saturdaynight. More than 100 Penan are currently protesting at the dam site.

We have also been informed that the Penan village of Long Watt has burnt down in a case of suspected arson by Sarawak Energy workers. The communities are also reporting the loss of a number of boats due to the flooding of the dam impoundment. An estimated 1500 Penan and 80 Kenyah natives will lose their homes due to the Murum dam impoundment which will flood 24'500 hectares of their lands and forests.

The Bruno Manser Fund calls on the UN Special Rapporteur for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya, to urgently intervene with the Malaysian government and to ask for an immediate stop of the Murum dam impoundment. The international community is urged to pressure the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to put an end to the humanitarian crisis in Sarawak and to properly address all outstanding resettlement issues with the affected indigenous communities.

The Murum dam construction is the first of a series of twelve dams planned by the Sarawak state government in an unprecedented mega dam construction program affecting tens of thousands of indigenous people in the Borneo rainforest. Alone the planned Baram dam, whose construction is about to start after the completion of the Murum dam, is estimated to cause the forced displacement of 20'000 people. Hundreds of square miles of tropical rainforests and biodiverse native farmlands are threatened to be flooded

The Murum dam construction history is connected to a series of scandals that are hard to imagine anywhere in the world outside Sarawak. The dam construction was started under a cloud of secrecy even before the realization of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and a social impact study. Most public contracts within the dam project were given to companies linked to the family of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, such as construction conglomerates Naim Cendera, Cahya Mata Sarawak and power transmittor Sarawak Cable.

The construction of Murum dam would not have been possible without support from Western engineers and managers. Hydro Tasmania, a state-owned Australian power supplier, seconded engineer Andrew Pattle to direct the Murum dam construction. Torstein Dale Sjotveit, a Norwegian national, oversees the dam construction in his role as CEO of Sarawak Energy. Sjotveit has repeatedly been accused of supporting the Taib family's corrupt practicves and has been reported to Malaysia's Anti Corruption Commission MACC by local activists. The Bruno Manser Fund will hold Western companies, engineers and managers responsible for their role in the Sarawak government's human rights violations related to the dam projects

- Ends -

For more information on the Sarawak dam constructions and related corruption, check our campaign site for the following Bruno Manser Fund reports:

- Sold Down the River. How Sarawak Dam Plans Compromise the Future of Sarawak's Indigenous Communities (2012)
- Complicit in Corruption. Taib Mahmud's Norwegian Power Man (2013)

For information from the ground, contact Peter Kallang, chairman of Sarawak's Save Rivers network, under +60 13 833 11 04

Orang Ulu Symposium a farce says SAVE Rivers

23 September 2013 at 22:52

MIRI – The recently concluded Orang Cultural Symposium held in Miri Civic Centre from the 20th to 21st September 2013 has been declared as a farce by Save Sarawak Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) since the symposium does not reflect the participation of the whole Orang Ulu community in Sarawak and those invited were selected members of the Orang Ulu community who are known to be staunch supporters of the government. The symposium for the different ethnic groups in Sarawak is organized every four years as a forum to discuss matters relating to the each group. Resolutions from these forums are normally presented to the Chief Minister of Sarawak after it is discussed at a state level symposium which is normally held in Kuching.

Forty representatives from Baram comprising of headmen and villagers from the Kayan, Kenyah and Penan communities in a community meeting held in Miri on the 21st September criticized the symposium for not being sensitive to their objection to the proposed Baram Hydroelectric Power (HEP) Dam. At that meeting the representatives had made a statement where all unanimously agreed that:

(1) The symposium was not representing the majority of the Orang Ulu community due to various reasons. Those invited for the symposium were either one of the following:

i) Mostly associations, individuals and political party members who are known to staunchly support the government and all projects the government carried out without critical evaluation based on the social or environmental impact;
ii) Mostly members of association and individuals who live in areas away from the dams or at locations which will not be inundated if the dams are built;

(2) Since the symposium excludes the majority representing differing opinions, any resolutions or recommendation made from the symposium are invalid;

(3) The representatives in the community meeting urges the Sarawak State Government to respect human rights and abide to the principles of the United Nation Declaration of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP); and

(4) The representatives in the community meeting reiterated and demand that the Sarawak State Government and Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) stop all work currently carried out at the proposed site for the planned Baram HEP Dam.

Also during the community meeting, the representatives were briefed on the current situation that is going on in Baram. Based on reports from the village of Na’ah and Long Keseh, SEB has been sending equipment and machineries to the proposed dam site over the last couple of days. Currently, there are about 40 workers at the site and an SEB administration office has been set up at Samling’s Kilo 10 timber camp in Baram.

- END –

Any inquiries please contact Peter Kallang at +60138331104 and Mark Bujang at +60148776685

Press Statement issued by:
Peter Kallang
Chairman SAVE Rivers

+++ BREAKING NEWS +++ Sarawak Energy nominated as worst company of the year

23 September 2013 at 16:56

The Bruno Manser Fund is nominating Malaysian dam developer, Sarawak Energy, for the “Public Eye” negative award. The award will “honour” the most shameful company of the year during the upcoming 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

(DAVOS, SWITZERLAND / KUCHING, MALAYSIA) Every year, the most despicable corporation is selected during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In January 2014, Malaysian power supplier and dam developer, Sarawak Energy, will be among the contenders for the “Public Eye” negative award. The nomination of Sarawak Energy by the Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fund has been officially accepted by the hosts of the award.

At the "Public Eye", companies with a track record of human rights violations, environmental destruction, exploitation of their workers or involvement in corruption have to face the critical eye of the international public. The two worst companies of the year are elected by an independent jury and a public vote and then receive the so-called Public Eye Award. The contenders’ conduct is scrutinized by the renowned Institute of Business Ethics at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.

Sarawak Energy is being nominated for the 2014 award because of its offences in the categories of human and indigenous rights violations, environmental destruction and corruption in the context of a dam initiative it has taken. The company is currently implementing a series of at least 12 dams in Sarawak’s rainforest. The dams will flood at least 1600km2 of rainforest and displace tens of thousands of indigenous people.

Sarawak Energy has been in the news lately on account of the shocking human rights situation at the Murum Dam: a lack of consultation with the affected communities, delayed environmental assessments, reports of sexual abuse of local women by men working on the dam, workers receiving very little pay at the dam site and angry indigenous people affected by the dams who are blocking construction work at the dam site in a bid to receive fair compensation.

Local groups have repeatedly filed complaints with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission against the Norwegian CEO of Sarawak Energy, Torstein Dale Sjøtveit, for unduly favouring companies controlled by Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud in the award of contracts. The opposition party – the Democratic Action Party (DAP) – has recently announced an online campaign to press for the sacking of Sarawak Energy’s Norwegian CEO. Sjøtveit is responsible for the company’s corrupt practices as well as its numerous human rights abuses.

The Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) has initiated the nomination, which has been endorsed by Sarawak’s SAVE Rivers Network as well as by BRIMAS, SUARAM, International Rivers, the Borneo Project, Rainforest Foundation Norway and Tasmania’s Huon Valley Environment Centre. The Bruno Manser Fund’s Executive Director, Lukas Straumann, said: “Sarawak Energy’s conduct combines gross disregard for the environment and indigenous peoples with massive corruption. We believe the Malaysian power supplier is one of the top contenders for the “Public Eye” award.”

In October, an independent jury will decide whether Sarawak Energy will be shortlisted for an online vote open to the international public. The awards will be made in January 2014 when the world’s political and economic leaders meet up in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos on the occasion of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

For more information on the "Public Eye", check out the official website:

Your BMF Team

Bruno Manser Fund
Socinstrasse 37
4051 Basel, Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74,

Area to be flooded by Murum Dam - Bruno Manser Foundation map

Photo: Area to be flooded by Murum Dam - Bruno Manser Foundation map

Jangan tertipu dengan laporan Borneo Post hari ini, Penan belum terima wang RM2 juta menurut Taib. Gambar ini berbicara.

Photo: Jangan tertipu dengan laporan Borneo Post hari ini, Penan belum terima wang RM2 juta menurut Taib. Gambar ini berbicara.

Group wants impoundment delayed

Photo: Group wants impoundment delayed

Murum HEP dam flooding begins

by Peter Sibon Posted on September 23, 2013, Monday

KUCHING: The impoundment of the Murum Hydro Electric Power (HEP) Dam began when the outlet river diversion tunnel was closed at 8.25pm on Saturday.

Confirming the start of the impoundment of the dam a source from Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) said the whole process would take about a year for the water to reach enough capacity for the HEP dam to produce power.

The RM4 billion Murum HEP is the third dam built in the state after the ones at Batang Ai and Bakun.

Mega dams to go ahead

Intricate design: Taib receiving a sape as a souvenir after launching the symposium in Miri.


MIRI: The cost of constructing new hydroelectric dams in Sarawak is going to shoot sky-high but the state will go ahead with these mega projects, said Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

A hydro dam that cost RM4bil to construct today would soon require at least RM10bil to build, he said yesterday.
Click here to read more

'Bad foreign press won't deter Sarawak HEP projects'

1:58PM Sep 22, 2013

The Sarawak government’s initiative to develop the hydroelectric power (HEP) dams in Murum, Baram and Baleh as part of the state’s industrialisation programme will continue to get bad publicity in foreign media, said Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Indigenous Penan Again Blockade Murum River Dam

KUCHING, Sarawak, Malaysia, September 19, 2013 (ENS) – The Penan indigenous people affected by the Murum dam in the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo have renewed their blockade of the dam site.

They say are protesting because the state government has failed to fulfill their demands for fair compensation, enough land for farming and a share in the profits flowing from the dam.

Penan blockaders

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Indigenous folk to be displaced by dams, UN told

3:54PM Sep 20, 2013

Suaram has notified the United Nations that the indigenous people of Malaysia “are facing displacement and loss of livelihood” as a result of states constructing hydroelectric dams.
Click here to read more

Why Penans putting up blockade against Murum Dam?

Published on Sep 9, 2013
The Western Penans at Murum area, Sarawak are putting up blockades against the Murum Dam for the 2nd time in Sept 2013 after their 1st attempt in Sept last year. This Penan youth refute allegation by SEB that they has been instigated by some NGO to set up blockades.

Penans move to new homes

11 September 2013

Native communities affected by the Murum hydroelectric project have begun the shift to their new homes in the resettlement scheme in Tegulang, upstream Bakun

Click here to read more

Indigenous Rights Controversies Around Belo Monte Consume Brazilian Judicial System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                             September 11, 2013
Maira Irigaray Castro, Amazon Watch, +1 415 622 8606,
Brent Millikan, International Rivers, +55 61 8153 7009,
María José Veramendi, AIDA, +51 95 411 4393,

Dam license could be suspended due to violations of social & environmental conditions

Altamira, Brazil—Recent lawsuits by Brazil’s Federal Public Prosecutors (MPF) concerning the Belo Monte dam are demanding accountability from the dam-building Norte Energia consortium, Brazil’s National Development Bank (BNDES), and the state environmental agency IBAMA for noncompliance with mandated mitigation measures concerning the Juruna and Xikrin Kayapó, two indigenous groups affected by the mega-project. The lawsuits demonstrate that conditions placed upon the dam’s environmental licensing have not been met and call for compensation for socio-environmental impacts of the dam, currently under construction on the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon.

The MPF filed a lawsuit in late August showing that Norte Energia was deliberately reneging its obligation to purchase land and provide health services for the Juruna indigenous community Km 17, one of the most vulnerable to the impacts of Belo Monte’s construction due to its proximity to the constant movement of heavy machinery and workers. This lawsuit led the national indigenous foundation FUNAI to issue a complaint to IBAMA, demanding that Norte Energia be held accountable for noncompliance with this formal condition of the environmental licenses for Belo Monte. The Federal Court of Pará State responded this week by giving Norte Energia 60 days to purchase the Juruna land and deliver health care or face daily fines of R$200,000 (US$87,000).

“The situation here has only gotten worse,” said Sheyla Juruna, a member of the Km 17 community known for her local and international activism in defense of her community’s rights. “Belo Monte created the illusion that people would get everything they didn’t have. That’s when the problems began. Support from FUNAI never came and our health conditions are precarious. Civil society thinks that the indigenous have rights, yet our rights are being violated every day.”

Following the ruling in favor of the Juruna community the MPF filed another lawsuit targeting the neglect of BNDES, IBAMA, and Norte Energia stemming from the absence of prior analysis of impacts and associated compensation measures for Xikrin Kayapó communities that are also threatened by Belo Monte. The lawsuit charges that these three institutions violated the rights of the Xikrin Kayapó when they allowed construction to commence on the project without measuring the impacts it would cause to the indigenous group, whose villages are based on the Bacajá River, a tributary to the Xingu directly adjacent to the dam’s most serious impacts.

The MPF has asked the Judiciary to suspend Belo Monte’s installation license, paralyzing the project until Norte Energia can present findings on the project’s impacts and its corresponding compensations for indigenous communities. The lawsuit is unprecedented in its scope as it could force the consortium and BNDES, financier of 80% of the dam’s costs, to indemnify affected indigenous groups of the Xingu for the delay in measuring and mitigating its socio-environmental repercussions.

“We truly have reason to celebrate seeing BNDES is finally being charged as a responsible party in Belo Monte’s disastrous impacts,” said Maíra Irigaray Castro of Amazon Watch. “It is time for financiers to pay for the criminal negligence exemplified by noncompliance with conditionalities, which they should also be monitoring for all projects that they finance.”

Norte Energia’s failure to comply with Belo Monte’s legally mandated conditions is not new. IBAMA released a report in July confirming that the compliance has worsened as the dam’s construction has sped up. The report shows that only four out of 23 conditions concerning local urban populations have been met.

“Last week we had a meeting with representatives of the government and local people and their discontent is clear,” said Antonia Melo, coordinator of the Xingu Alive Forever Movement. “There is no fresh water, no electricity, no health care, no schools and no sanitation. We cannot accept that the conditions, that are fundamental rights guaranteed by our constitution, be undermined in this way. IBAMA must suspend construction, as defined by law, until these conditions are met.”

“These legal actions add to the existing evidence of the severe impacts that the Belo Monte dam is having on human rights and the environment in the Xingu, and of the responsibility of all Brazilian agencies involved in the project,” said María José Veramendi of AIDA. “We look forward to a positive result of these legal actions and that Brazil will effectively comply with applicable national and international laws, as all agencies involved can be legally responsible and the State can be internationally responsible for these human rights violations” pointed out Veramendi.

Per FUNAI’s request, as well as the lawsuits brought by the Public Prosecutors, both IBAMA and the Federal Judges could suspend the dam’s installation license until all the requirements and conditions are met.

“The characterization of Amazonian dams as clean and cheap energy is based on the ability of project proponents, including BNDES, to “externalize” their true social and environmental risks and impacts. These lawsuits are significant in that they’re sending a signal that they are indeed being held accountable for their decisions and the damage that they cause to the environment and indigenous peoples,” said Brent Millikan, Amazon Program Director at International Rivers.

More information:

ADB to Fund Sarawak-West Kalimantan Hydroelectric Power Project

By Jakarta Globe on 6:20 pm August 28, 2013.
Category Business, Featured, News
Tags: Asian Development Bank ADB, hydropower plantPerusahaan Listrik Negara PLN, Sarawak, West Kalimantan

Indonesia’s state-owned power company will build a 145-kilometer-long electric line linking customers in West Kalimantan with hydroelectric plants in neighboring Sarawak, Malaysia, under a plan that has been heralded as a commitment to green energy in Indonesia but is rife with environmental concerns in Malaysia.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded project is expected to provide 8,000 homes in West Kalimantan with cheaper electricity and cut carbon emissions by 400,000 tons a year by 2020. The state-run Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) currently uses oil to provide power to the province.

31 August 2013

SAVE Rivers is one of the recipients of The Nut Graph's 2013 Merdeka Awards:
Click here to read more

Videos allege hazard from aluminium plants

YouTube clips show people complaining of illnesses attributed to the presence of a Press Metal Sarawak factory.

Click here to read more