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.
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Any inquiries please contact Peter Kallang at +60138331104 and Mark Bujang at +60148776685
Press Statement issued by:
Chairman SAVE Rivers