Baram MP Jacob Sagan has once again riled his constituents with his latest statement "government will not flood its own people".
MIRI: Each time Baram MP, Jacob Dungau Sagan, opens his mouth in support of the proposed construction of the Baram dam, scores more of Baram voters who are affected by the project will turn against him, alleged a former leader of Sarawak National Party (SNAP).
“Up to now, between 50% and 55% of the 10,485 Kayan, Kenyah and Penan voters in the Telang Usan constituency are against the dam, and indirectly are also against the incumbent MP and vice-president of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP),” said the former politician, who wanted to remain anonymous.
Sagan has been nominated to defend the seat for the coming general election.
“And for him to win, Sagan needs the support of the 10,294 Iban voters from Marudi constituency. Here again the support for him is uncertain as the expelled SPDP leader Sylvester Entri who is the ‘war lord’ among the Ibans.
“Sagan’s recent statement that the government ‘will not flood its own people’ has not only made the people of Baram angrier, but has also made them more determined to vote him out.
“He is bluffing and misleading the people,” said the veteran politician.
On Wednesday Sagan had said that there was no need for the group that went against the Baram project to go around telling people the dam would endanger the lives of Baram folk, as the “government will not flood its own people.”
“As a local from the area, I am as concerned as they are. But I can assure the affected people their lives will change for the better if they support the dam,” Sagan had said.
Commenting on Sagan’s statements, the veteran politician, who was once Sagan’s colleague in SNAP before they parted ways in 2002, said Sagan “should not underestimate the intelligence of the people”
No mandate from natives
Meanwhile two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) – Save Sarawak Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) and Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC) – have issued a strongly-worded statement against Sagan who is also the Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry.
The statement was signed by Peter Kallang, SAVE Rivers chairman and Philip Jau, BPAC chairman.
“As an elected representative of the Baram people, he is making a preposterous and irresponsible statement to say that the proposed construction of the Baram dam would not flood the Baram people.
“By going forward with the Baram Dam project, the reservoir created would flood 412 square kilometres of the Kayan, Kenyah and Penan heartland in Baram which will force about 20,000 people to be displaced from their ancestral lands.
“The affected people would have no choice but to start new lives in a totally new area. As we have seen in the case of the Batang Ai and Bakun dams, the people affected there face numerous problems which the government has yet to resolve until today, ” Kallang said.
He also further asked Sagan what United Nations requirements did the state government “follow” diligently.
“If he is referring to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which Malaysia has agreed to adopt in the United Nations, then the government has violated a number of articles, among others, Article 26 (Right to Land) and Article 18 and 19 (Participation in decision making process and obtaining free, prior and informed consent).
“Up to now, the government has yet to obtain the consent of the affected people in Baram.
“The people of Baram strongly oppose this project. This is proven by numerous letters, police reports and protests made by the people of Baram against the said project.
“All this while, the government has been using the community leaders and the Federation of Orang Ulu Associations Malaysia (Forum) to give the perception to the public that the people of Baram support this project.
“Consent does not mean that only the community leaders agree to the project, but it should be based on the consensus of the whole community as stipulated in the UNDRIP.
“The consensus of the whole community is vital as this project will adversely affect the rights, survival and future of every member of the community,” he said.