The Sarawak CM has accepted 8,000 signatures from Orang Asal against mega dams.
KUCHING: Batu Lintang Assemblyman See Chee How has expressed cautious optimism that “Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem can be persuaded to drop plans to build 12 mega dams or more in the state”. These dams involve moving out thousands of Orang Asal and the flooding of their ancestral lands.
The plans for the dams were initiated by Adenan’s predecessor, Taib Mahmud.
For starters, said See, “Adenan had accepted more than 8,000 signatures collected by the NGO Save Rivers from people opposed to the construction of a RM4 billion dam on the Baram River”. Taib, in contrast, had refused to accept such signatures, and preferred not to know the reality on the ground.
For another, he said, Adenan met with him and Peter Kallang of Save Rivers, micro hydro electric expert Professor Daniel Kammen of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) of the University of California and Gabriel Wynn of Green Empowerment.
The meeting, said See, was on RAEL’s studies on clean energy options. The studies cover those done in Sarawak as well but more work is scheduled next week “on the impact of large dams on local communities”.
Kallang chipped in that “the meeting with Adenan was very cordial and the discussion was not hostile”. The Chief Minister, he added, “asked for copies of the studies and said that he wanted to be shown the reality”.
“We will give him the papers next week.”
The Chief Minister explained, he said, that he would like to see the thousands of villages in the rural areas “lit up”.
Revisiting the signature campaign, Kallang said that Adenan had earlier been misled by people who claimed to represent the Baram people. “Some of the community leaders that Adenan met in Miri last May were not from Baram but from Bario, Belaga and other places not affected by the proposed Baram Dam.”
After the meeting, Kallang recalled, Adenan declared that the Baram Dam would go ahead. “The Chief Minister would visit Baram after the Aidil Fitri to hear for himself the views of the people affected.”
The 1,300 MW Baram Dam will submerge a estimated 400 sq kms of ancestral lands and affect some 20,000 Orang Asal from the Orang Ulu (Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit and Penan) and Iban communities.
Save Rivers has been maintaining a two-year 24/7 blockade of access to the site, at Long Lama and Long Kesseh, to prevent the Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) from proceeding with any work on the proposed dam site.