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New twist to Baram Dam saga

 | June 19, 2012

Police reports have been lodged against the Sarawak Energy Board for illegal 'entry' and a local native chief for contravening a registered 1994 'adat' (native law).

MIRI: A well-known Orang Ulu community leader, Pahang Ding Anyie, an expert on the adat (customs and traditions) of the Kayan and Kenyah communities, may have landed himself in trouble for breaching the “code”.

Anyie may have issued misleading and false statements against the two communities which is an offence under Section 42 of Adet Kayan-Kenyah 1994 (Customs and Traditions of Kayan-Kenyah) community.

Anyie had on May 18 told Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Anak Numpang that the natives of Baram had changed their minds and were now fully supportive of the construction of the proposed Baram dam.

But not only was his statement disputed by the natives of the Ulu Baram but they have now also lodged a police report against him.

On June 10, Dorus Katan Juman from Long Tap, Upper Baram, on behalf of a group of Baram villagers who called themselves Lepo Telang Usan, lodged the police report against Anyie for “lying and misleading the public”.

In his report, Juman made the reference to a newspaper article published in the Borneo Post dated May18 which quoted Anyie’s declaration to Jabu.

Said Juman: “The statement by Temenggong Pahang [Anyie] as reported in the article is false and misleading as the people of Baram still strongly oppose the proposed dam.

“We give Temenggong Pahang 14 days [starting from June 10] to withdraw his statement and apologise publicly to the people of Baram for making a false statement about them.

“He has one week more to do so, failing which we will take legal action against him under Section 42 of Adet Kayan-Kenyah 1994 [Customary Laws],” he told FMT.

“The fine is minimal, but we want to stop him using the name of Orang Ulu community in Baram to support the construction of the Baram Dam,” he said.

Reports against SEB

Meanwhile, two police reports have been lodged against Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) by a villager from Long Kesseh, Upper Baram, and by Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) for illegal trespassing on Long Kesseh’s native customary land and unlawfully starting works on the proposed Baram Dam.

The first report was lodged by Ding Ngau at the Miri police station on May 24. In the report, Ngau complained about an intrusion into the family’s land by a group of workers who were drilling the ground.

“I questioned the workers but I was totally ignored. That is why I made this police report and request the police and relevant authority to take action,” said Ngau.

The second report was made by Peter Kallang, chairman of SAVE Rivers on June 8, also at the same police station.

Kallang, who hails from Baram, stated in his report that on June 7 at about 3.30pm, while on his way back to Miri from Upper Baram, he saw a tent erected at Km8 on Samling’s logging road, not far from Samling’s logging camp at Km10.

Kallang together with representatives from Long Na’ah, Long Anap, Long Liam, Long Laput, Long Kesseh, Long San, Long Tungan and other villagers from Baram decided to investigate the tent.

“We were driving down from Ulu Baram to Miri on the Samling Road when we saw a tent.

“We decided to stop and asked the people at the tent, and they said that they were employees of SEB doing geological studies for the proposed Baram Dam,” said Kallang.

In view of strong opposition to the dam, he said the action of SEB (conducting geological studies) is unlawful and done with complete disregard for the people of Baram.

In the report, he stated that the works done by SEB go against laws like the Sarawak Natural Resources and Environmental (Prescribed Activities) Order 1994, which requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to be done and approved before any work is carried out.

No EIA for Baram?

The report added that the people of Baram are not aware that any EIA has been done for this project yet.

The three police reports made within three weeks marked a new twist to the controversies surrounding the proposed Baram Dam.

Before this, the Baram villagers have been campaigning against the dams by holding public demonstrations, launching signature campaigns, erecting banners along the banks of the Baram River, sending post cards, and sending petitions to the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, his deputy Muyhiddin Yassin, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and the CEO of SEB.

Workshops and seminars for the people affected by the dams organised by SAVE Rivers have been well attended.

Just last week, SAVE Rivers collaborated in organising a prayer event at the dam site and a dialogue session at Long Na’ah. Both the dialogue and prayer session received overwhelming support.

The chairman of the Baram People Action Committee (BPAC), Philip Jau, said: “We together with the villagers, NGOs and concerned individuals will continue to campaign so that our plea for stopping the construction of the mega dam is heard by the authorities.”

BPAC is one of the NGOs in the SAVE Rivers coalition.


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