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More Baram natives take ‘lying’ govt to task

 | May 23, 2012

Shocked Baram natives issue protest letter with eight resolutions objecting to the Baram hydro-electric dam project.

LONG SAN, BARAM: Natives from another 13 villages in Upper Baram, Patah Akah and Silat rivers, believing that the Baram hydro-electric dam project was ‘still in proposal’ stage were shocked that the Sarawak government had already identified resettlement sites.

They are the second batch of villages who have voiced their anger since a report last Thursday which quoted Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu as saying that resettlement sites have been identified near the Murum and Bakun dams and that the affected natives will be relocated to these proposed ’21st century’ villages.

The statement has shocked these villages who had only a few weeks ago heard from Senator Lihan Jok that the proposed Baram dam was still a proposal and the decision to approve the said project was still pending.

On Monday some 40 Baram natives lambasted Jabu, Lihan and the Federation of Orang Ulu Association Malaysia, who claimed they represented the natives affected by the development, calling for their resignation. They accused these leaders of toeing the political line with no concern for their community.

Yesterday, 60 natives representing villages in Long San, Long Liam, Long Na’ah, Long Selawan, Long Anap, Long Selatong Dikan, Long Selatong Tanjung Tepalit, Long Tap, Long Je’eh, Long Beku, Long Bee, Long Apu and Long Moh who attended a workshop on the realities of the Baram dam development also strongly objected to the project.

The workshop, entitled “Empowering the Community to Assert their Rights”, was organised by Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (Save Rivers).

Save Rivers chairman Peter Kallang said the participants had also signed a protest letter and would forward it to Sarawak Energy Berhad and the relevant authorities.

He said the workshop held last Thursday and Friday also saw the Baram natives issued eight resolutions:

  • They strongly oppose the proposed Baram Hydro-electric Dam Project and demand that the project be scrapped;
  • They demand that all the survey and drilling works done by SEB or their contractors or their agents be stopped immediately;
  • They want their voices to be heard and their rights to be respected;
  • They totally disagree with their community leaders or community associations such as the Federation of Orang Ulu Association Malaysia (Forum) which says that the people of Baram have already accepted the proposed dam project;
  • They do not want people who are not affected by the proposed dam project to make statements and decide on behalf of their community;
  • They do not want their customary lands, crops, properties, burial grounds, and ancestral sites to be flooded;
  • They do not believe that the proposed dam project will benefit them as the issues of Batang Ai, Bakun, Bengoh and Murum have yet to be resolved by the authorities; and
  • They demand that community leaders who are only interested to listen to their political masters and not the voices of the people to resign immediately.

Said Kallang: “During the group discussions, most of the participants raised the issue of not being consulted by the relevant authorities or from Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) and their consultants.

“The participants were also angry with the way their community leaders, elected representatives and Senator Lihan Jok are ‘bulldozing’ their way through with the said project and lying to the public that the people of Baram have accepted it.

“Equally appalling to the participants of the workshop is when they found out through the local media that Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu announced that the resettlement site for the affected villagers have been identified somewhere near Murum and Bakun area when only a few weeks ago, Senator Lihan was quoted as saying that the proposed dam was still a proposal and the decision to approve the said project was still pending.”


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