View Full Version : Sarawak's Dam(n) Problem
9th November 2009, 02:45 PM
Power, profit, and pollution: dams and the uncertain future of Sarawak
Kara Moses, special to mongabay.com
September 03, 2009
Sarawak, land of mystery, legend, and remote upriver tribes. Paradise of lush rainforest and colossal bat-filled caves. Home to unique and bizarre wildlife including flying lemurs, bearcats, orang-utans and rat-eating plants. Center of heavy industry and powerhouse of Southeast Asia.
Come again? This jarring image could be the future of Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, should government plans for a complex of massive hydroelectric dams comes to fruition. mongabay. (http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0903-moses_sarawak_dams.html)
27th December 2009, 10:11 PM
To be labelled as such by its own people that it is supposed to protect, that's the ultimate shame. But then again, do the people in the Ruling Regime have any sense of shame?
'This government is very bad'
Sunday, 27 December 2009 10:49
KUALA LUMPUR - A massive tract of Borneo jungle, an area the size of Singapore, will soon disappear under the waters of the Bakun dam, a multi-billion-dollar project nearing completion after years of controversy.
The dam, which forced thousands of indigenous people off their ancestral lands, has struggled through setbacks and delays since its approval in 1993, as well as fierce criticism over its environmental impact.
But even before the turbines of the 2.2 billion dollar hydro-electric facility begin to turn, activists have sounded the alarm over plans for 12 more mega-dams on Malaysia's half of Borneo which it shares with Indonesia.
'This government is very bad'
Balan Balang, an elderly chief of the Penan tribe, sighs as he talks of the Murum dam, the first of the dozen dams envisioned for Sarawak state, which will drown the hunting grounds and burial sites of his people.
"This government is very bad. In the old days people would fight us using machetes or spears. But now they just sign away our lives on pieces of paper," said the headman, who sports the elongated earlobes distinctive to his tribe.
"My people never want to leave our place. We want to die in our place," he said, after a long journey from his rainforest home to seek help from indigenous lawyers in Miri, a coastal town in Malaysian Borneo.
Human rights activists are intent on avoiding a repeat of the botched relocation of some 15,000 indigenous people in the Bakun area who they say have made an unhappy transition to life in resettlement areas.
Balan Balang's village is outside the Murum resettlement area, but some 1,500 people -- mostly Penan but including another of Sarawak's tribes, the Kenyah -- will be forced to abandon their homes for an uncertain future.
The chief, who is not sure of his birth date but reckons he is "between 70 and 80 years old", has seen much hardship during his long life.
Long life of hardship
As a young boy he watched fearfully as Japanese warplanes flew overhead during the World War II occupation, while rampant logging later degraded the jungles where his people forage for food, wild game, and materials for shelter.
penan.jpg"Now the rivers are all polluted. The wildlife has slowly disappeared -- wild boar, deer, gibbons. Even the broad-leafed plants that we use for roofing, and rattan which we use to make mats and baskets, is gone," he said.
But what brought him to Miri are new threats to his way of life, the dam project as well as plantation firms who want to clear what is left of the jungle and grow palm oil and foreign timber species.
"Our people oppose our area being included for the dam because that's where we come from, our ancestors lived and died and were buried there. For us we have no other place, that is our only place," he said.
The Penan of Sarawak, famed for their ability to live off the jungle armed only with blowpipes and machetes, number around 10,000 including 300-400 thought to be among the last nomadic hunter-gatherers on earth.
Balan Balang is just one of many tribal leaders who have sought the help of Harrison Ngau, a former member of parliament who belongs to a network of indigenous lawyers fighting for tribal rights in Sarawak.
'ATM card to make money'
"All these dams, why do we need so many dams here? It's just an ATM card for the political leaders to make money," said Ngau, who has been jailed in the past for his stand against mega-dams and logging of Penan territory.
"There will be further loss of their heritage, their land, whatever forest they have left," he says from his humble offices.
Ngau said a notice extinguishing the rights of the Murum people over the affected land has already been issued, and construction has begun, but so far there is no formal relocation proposal or offer of compensation.
He and his colleagues are now campaigning to halt the next of the dozen projects, the Baram Dam, but he says it is difficult to prove ancestral ownership as the oral history of his people is not admissible in court.
"It is quite sick to know that your own fellow man, your fellow Malaysian, doesn't understand the customs and cultures and history of our people," he said. "That is the tragedy here."
"Even the British colonial rulers were very respectful of communal rights, they even encouraged the native communities to record their traditional boundaries. They did much better than our present Malaysian leaders."
Ngau said that the Penan, forced to shift from the Bakun area more than a decade ago, are still struggling to survive with insufficient farming land, schools, clinics, water supply and transport.
"You haven't solved that problem -- you want to start a new problem?" he asked.
Transparency International has labelled Bakun a "monument of corruption" and highlighted debate over whether there will be enough customers in 2011 when it becomes fully operational with a 2,400MW capacity.
All the valuable timber has already been removed from its catchment area, and the dam will begin filling up in January, taking eight months to submerge all 70,000 hectares (270 square miles).
Details of the 12 mega-dams envisaged by state body Sarawak Energy Berhad are scant -- a map of proposed locations of dams purportedly to be built by 2020 was published on the Internet and seized on by campaigners.
May not be built for 50 years
Sarawak's Rural Development Minister James Masing said that all 12 dams may not make it off the drawing board.
j"That is a masterplan that we have the potential to build, they may not be built for 50 years," he told AFP earlier this year.
Masing, who is helping formulate the Murum relocation, said it is likely to happen in three to four years' time but that first there should be a careful study of the people involved.
"There are some areas we have to refine. The settlement project must be done properly. What was done in Bakun may not be one of the best, we may have been ignorant of some of the issues," he told AFP earlier this year.
"We want to change them for the better," said Masing, an anthropologist by training. "They have good reason not to trust us, but we are not there to destroy them, we are trying our best to assist them." - AFP MalaysianMirror.... (http://www.malaysianmirror.com/sabahsarawakdetail/12-sabahsarawak/24211-this-government-is-very-bad)
30th April 2010, 08:22 PM
TV2 Bakun docu-series terminated: What they didn't want you to know
Friday, 30 April 2010 admin-s
(Aliran) A nine-part TV2 Mandarin documentary series which was to be aired from 26 April to 7 May was forced off the air on 28 April. What didn't they want us to see? Our correspondent provides some clues.
The documentary series was supposed to report on the social impact faced by more than 10,000 natives of the Belaga area who were forcibly relocated to Sungai Asap and Sungai Koyan area in 1998 to make way for the controversial Bakun Dam. Two episodes of this documentary were aired on 26 and 27 April before the series was yanked off.
Chou Z Lam, the producer of the documentary, revealed in a blog post that this was another instance of news interference by the BN government during and after the Hulu Selangor by election. He was told that some “sensitive elements” in the documentary could be harmful to the coming Sibu by-election and the Sarawak state election.
Chou felt sorry for the people of Sungai Asap whom he had interviewed, for their problems and voices could not be heard now by the people of east and west Malaysia.
And what are some of the problems faced by those forced to relocate? Our correspondent reports: Malaysiatoday.... (http://www.malaysia-today.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=31551:tv2-bakun-docu-series-terminated-what-they-didnt-want-you-to-know-&catid=19:newscommentaries&Itemid=100131)
12th September 2010, 05:51 PM
Malaysia's Bakun dam - a monument to corruption?
Posted on 12 September 2010
(AFP) - THE multi-billion-dollar Bakun dam in Borneo, already condemned as a catastrophe for the environment and tribal people, is now battling suggestions it could become a giant white elephant.
The dam, which will eventually submerge an area the size of Singapore, is finally nearing completion after suffering a series of setbacks and delays since its approval in 1993.
But at the last hurdle the project has stumbled again, with delays in winning the state government's permission to begin the flooding process and no deal yet on purchasing its hefty 2,400 megawatt output.
With ambitious plans for an undersea cable to feed the Bakun's electricity to the Malaysian peninsula now abandoned, the Sarawak state government is the only feasible buyer - leaving it with a very strong hand.
Negotiations not going smoothly
Negotiations with the dam developer Sarawak Hidro, a subsidiary of the national finance ministry, have reportedly been tough.
'It's a case where the owner of the project is naming an asking price that is very different to what the buyer would want,' said Wong Chew Hann, an analyst at Malaysia's top bank Maybank.
'I understand there's quite a huge mismatch,' she said.
'I'm not sure what they've incorporated into the pricing, but the cost of the project has gone up so much since it was started.'
As well as the cost of construction, there is the expense of compensating tribal people for their forced relocation from ancestral lands, and suppliers affected by the long delays.
"So the question is, are you going to incorporate all the compensation costs in the tariff price?" said Wong.
With the indigenous people from the Bakun catchment area long since resettled and its valuable timber resources long since felled, the dam has been ready to be flooded since April.
The state government had delayed permission, saying it was still evaluating river levels and the impact on boat transport.
A Sarawak minister reportedly said last week that the necessary permit has been granted, denying both that it had been used as a bargaining chip to lower the tariff and that Sarawak was facing an energy glut.
Not held to ransom
Sarawak Hidro managing director Zulkiflie Osman played down suggestions that he has been held to ransom by the state government.
"Both parties are working together and want it to be settled amicably, with a tariff acceptable to both parties," he told AFP, adding that he expected to strike a tariff deal before December.
The next of Sarawak's mega-dams, the Murum, which is being developed by the state government, is due to come on line in 2013 but Osman said he was convinced the state authorities will not bypass the Bakun in favour of its own project.
Alongside the power purchase negotiations, the federal government is also said to be discussing selling the entire Bakun facility - built at a reported cost of RM7.3 billion - to the state government, but pricing and finance problems have emerged.
Star daily reported in July that the federal government was seeking RM8 billion while the state government offer was just RM6 billion.
The Bakun's output far exceeds existing energy needs in Sarawak, a relatively undeveloped state, and is mostly destined for industrial users such as aluminium smelters, but these are still on the drawing board.
"The main problem is that currently there is no demand for such a big capacity yet, and in order for Sarawak Energy to purchase the dam they would need adequate funding," said an analyst with a major research house.
"The banks would ask for some kind of feasibility study, and as there is no real demand yet this project risks becoming a white elephant," said the analyst, who declined to be named.
Newspaper reports have questioned how the federal government can ever hope to recover the huge amount of money it has sunk into the project.
"Marred by too many disagreements, the RM7.3 billion project could very well turn out to be a non-starter," Star said last month, adding that with both the Bakun and Murum dams online there would be a "very real possibility" of a power glut.
Transparency International has labelled Bakun a "monument of corruption" in Sarawak, a state that has been ruled for three decades by the formidable Chief Minister Taib Mahmud.
There has also been fierce criticism over the botched relocation of 15,000 indigenous people, who have made an unhappy transition to life in drab resettlement areas.
Baru Bian, chairman of the opposition party Keadilan in Sarawak, said the Bakun project was designed purely to profit cronies, and not planned in the public's interest.
"The dam is a waste of public funds, it's not necessary, and what is paramount is that it is disturbing and disrupting the lives of the natives and the environment - the trees and the forests." Malaysia-today.... (http://malaysia-today.net/low-bandwidth/index.php#Malaysia's Bakun dam - a monument to corruption?)
23rd February 2011, 05:48 PM
Can camera-toting natives spark rural revolt?
FMT Staff | February 23, 2011
A group of visitors from the interior of Sarawak have returned home from Kuala Lumpur with photos of skyscrapers built with Sarawak money.
KUALA LUMPUR: Dumbstruck by the sight of towers piercing the clouds above Kuala Lumpur, visitors from the Sarawak interior have gone home to their village on the Baram River with pictures that they hope will give their relatives some idea of how they felt during their visit here.
They experienced “a kind of revelation,” said their spokesman, Willie Kayan.
“They were amazed by all the tall buildings in KL, especially the Petronas Towers, and they asked where all the money came from.
“I told them the money came all the way from Sarawak from our oil and gas.
“They were sad, they were angry, and they took a lot of pictures.”
He said this would be the story that they would tell in their village of Long San, in the upper reaches of the Baram, which, among Sarawak’s great rivers, is second in length only to the Rajang.
The group of visitors numbered about 30, including children. They represented the Kenyan, Kayan, Berawan, Malay and Iban communities. Willie is a Berawan.
Long San has been described as “the modern world’s last outpost” on the Baram. Beyond the village lies a range of mountains housing the world’s thickest rainforests.
The visitors were in Kuala Lumpur last week to demonstrate against rampant logging in their area and Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s plans for more mega dams.
“Our fears and concerns aren’t baseless,” Willie said. “There have been enough scientific studies on the effects of deforestation and the dams. We don’t want the Baram Dam.
“Bakun has taught us a lesson. Until today many of the 10,000 displaced people have not received whatever was promised to them,” he said.
The massive Bakun Dam, a controversial project associated with former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, lies across a tributary of the Rajang.
Fear of damage
Willie and his group’s immediate concern is the proposed 1,000-megawatt Baram Dam, sited some 200km inland from Miri.
They want the proposal scrapped because for fear of damage to the social and natural environment.
“It will affect our lives,” he said. “We will be deprived economically. We will have limited sources to generate a livelihood. Because of this, we will also be deprived socially.”
The visitors, who were here for three days last week, said they were alarmed by the clearing of massive forests to construct a highway to facilitate the construction of the dam.
They, as well as many other critics in Sarawak, feel there is no justification for the Baram Dam as the energy generated by the 2,400-megawatt Bakun Dam is more than sufficient for Sarawak’s energy needs for many years to come.
According to Willie, the visit to Kuala Lumpur had made them realise how much Sarawak had lost “due to Taib’s corrupt administration”.
In recent months, the alternative media have published scores of reports on what seems to be immense wealth owned by Taib and his family as well as the opulent lifestyles they lead.
Alongside these reports have been articles on poverty in Sarawak. Sabah and Sarawak, which are oil and gas hubs for Malaysia, are the poorest states in the country.
Plunder and squander
So shocking were the revelations of Taib’s extensive international portfolio of properties – allegedly derived from the plunder and squander of state resources during his 30-year term – that Kuala Lumpur has stepped back from offering him unequivocal support despite Barisan Nasional’s (BN) need for Sarawak’s vote bank in the forthcoming general election.
Yesterday, the Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) hammered in another nail when it revealed a blacklist of 49 Taib-linked companies in eight countries.
According to the BMF statement, the companies were “thought to be worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of US dollars”.
“A considerable number of the companies are active in the real estate and property sector,” it said.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Report, an online newsportal which has been at the forefront of reporting on Taib’s wealth, is wondering if Willie and his Long San group’s courage will seed a native revolt against Taib.
“The courage and desperation of the small group should not be under-estimated,” it said.
“Their gesture is a sign of big changes in Sarawak as the local people, who are normally shy and self-reliant, have started to react to the intolerable pressures of Taib’s land grabs.
“There is no need for the Baram Dam or indeed the 12 other dams that Taib plans to build with a loan of US$11 billion that has been offered by the Chinese.
“The enormous Bakun Dam, which is currently flooding an area the size of Singapore along the Rajang River, has already displaced 10,000 native people, who are suffering hardship and destitution in resettlement areas where they have no access to the food and products that once sustained them from the jungle.
“Now half a million other indigenous people are in fear of the same disaster befalling them.” Malaysia-today.... (http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/2011/02/23/can-camera-toting-natives-spark-rural-revolt/)
11th April 2011, 12:23 AM
Bakun Dam has no genuine economic purpose (http://malaysianpost2u.blogspot.com/2010/09/bakun-dam-has-no-genuine-economic.html)
Firstly, the Dam has no genuine economic purpose. Sarawak already has more electricity than its impoverished population can afford to use and the plans to send it to Malaysia by undersea cable was a fantasy by technology-illiterate ministers.
Secondly, the dam will actually make electricity more, not less expensive for ordinary Sarawakians, as existing power plants will be shut and Sarawak Hidro are desperate to claw back some of the RM 7.3 billion costs.
Thirdly, the public worker pension funds, which were arm-twisted by politicians into funding the dam to the tune of RM 5.75 billion, are now left facing an appalling loss. This means either a whole generation of hard-working public servants (teachers, nurses, clerks, firemen etc.) will now lose their savings for old age, or the Malaysian taxpayer (the next generation of workers) will have to find the extra money to bail them out.
Pensioners’ loss is Taib family gain
Therefore the all-round conclusion has been that Bakun is a monstrous, multi-billion dollar disaster. Southeast Asia’s greatest ‘White Elephant’ foisted onto Malaysia by Sarawak’s ‘Chief Executive Officer’ Abdul Taib Mahmud. Perhaps, it is speculated, at least tourists will come to visit such an appalling example of state planning gone spectacularly wrong?
However, these commentators are neglecting to point out that from the point of view of Mr Taib’s personal finances and those of the Taib family, the Bakun Dam has been a stunning success.
Much of the RM 5.75 billion siphoned out of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (KWAP) by this project has gone gushing straight into the Taib bank accounts – and then presumably straight on out of the country to fund their private foreign investments.
Researchers have long since detailed how it was the decision to revive the Bakun Dam project, after it was shelved during the Asian Financial Crash, that rescued Cayha Mata Sarawak (CMS), the business the Taib family ‘privatised’ from the state into their own pockets, in the late 1990s.
By 1999, CMS, which had over-stretched on ambitious projects, was facing terrifying losses of RM 787 million. The Chief Minister (whose late wife and two sons owned most of the shares of this ‘public’ company) was even more alarmed as the share price collapsed as a result. The ‘CEO of Sarawak’ was facing personal bankruptsy, since most of his family company’s borrowings were based on the value of these CMS shares.
So it was the political decision by the Malaysian government to pour RM 1.6 billion of taxpayers’ money into Bakun (a sum which has since escalated to 7.5 billion and rising) that saved the Taibs’ from ruin (and kept BN in power in Sarawak). Everyone knew that the Chief Minister would award his own company the lions share of the contracts for this glorious mega-project (CMS specialises in producing cement and steel) and that the company would go from strength to strength.
Endless profit to be made ~ http://malaysianpost2u.blogspot.com/
The Chief Minister does not miss a trick when it comes to making money and Bakun has gone on to provide wonderful further opportunities for abuse of public trust. Thus, his own company CMS has now gone on to further establish itself as the biggest private customer of the publicly owned venture that it built.
The company has done a deal with Rio Tinto Zinc (despite the horror of environmentalists) to build a vast aluminium smelter to soak up Bakun’s excess power. This consortium is currently playing hardball with Sarawak Hidro, the Federal government body in charge of the dam, to get a preferential deal for electricity. This at a time when Taib is negotiating on behalf of the State of Sarawak to buy the project off the Federal Government.
This means clever Taib has set himself up as the biggest client of the state venture that, as Finance Minister and Chief Minister, he is going to be entrusted with managing of behalf of the interests of the taxpayer! As far as conflict of interest goes that is about as big as it gets!
Meanwhile, Sarawak Report wonders whether his business partner, Rio Tinto Zinc, has considered dusting off its own ethics book on this issue, and leafing through to the section on doing business with corrupt tyrants?
Clearly, the opportunity to move politically sensitive and highly polluting aluminium smelting plants out of Australia, where the mineral is mined, and into Sarawak is tempting. Taib, of course, plans to cover the whole of this once pristine rainforest state with filthy foreign industries to foul up what remains of the dammed up river basins – the so-called Sarawak Corridor of Energy.
However, while the Chief Minister regards himself impervious to criticism and bullet proof at the ballot box (no fool like an old fool), the business executives at Rio Tinto have learnt the hard way about the dangers of deals such as these. Their local back yard environmentalists in Australia may be happy to see them move off, but the global environmentalists will be only too ready to hold such actions to account. And the native peoples of Sarawak are not that happy either, to put it gently.
No benefit to Sarawak
Citizens of Sarawak have also learnt the hard way that the jobs from dirty industries such as these will go to foreign workers and the money will go straight back out again. They know that ’Progress and Development’ , Taib-style means environmental destruction, land seizures and poverty for the many and vast riches for….. well Taib.
All of which explains why the multi-billion dollar plan to go on building pointless dams across the whole of the rest of Sarawak, displacing tens of thousands more indigenous people and destroying vast areas, while appearing to be the strategy of a mad man makes enormous economic sense personally to Abdul Taib Mahmud.
This is because China has agreed to invest US $11 billion to do it. Most of that money he reasons will go to him and after that who cares that the people of Sarawak will be in debt to China and therefore under China’s control for ever more?
31st August 2011, 01:51 PM
Very effective strategy. Worked well at Bakun. So Taib is duplicating it in Baram. Another 50 to go.
It is sad to see people willing to sell their votes for RM50 or RM100 and lose their livelihood and land. And they cannot see the connection.
Baram Dam: Lying govt and big companies (http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/2011/08/31/baram-dam-lying-govt-and-big-companies/)
Joseph Tawie | August 31, 2011
Local village headmen are being told that the government has shelved the construction of the Baram Dam.
KUCHING: The deceitful and insidious manner by which the state government is going about with the construction of the Baram Dam has angered the Orang Ulu communities in the dam project vicinity.
Orang Ulu National Association Miri (OUNA) chairman Pete Kallang said: “As one of those affected I just can’t understand this injustice and this outrageous and abusive exploitation.
“Why, it could be seen as an act in complete disregard for our well-being and opinion.
“This could be proven by the priority given to the preparatory construction activities done even before the proper Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are completed or perhaps not even started and made accessible to affected and interested parties.
“In doing this, it seems the construction of the dam is to be implemented whatever the findings or recommendations that would eventually be available if and when the EIA or SIA is done,” he said.
Kallang added that during a recent meeting with the affected locals, he was shocked to hear the headman saying that the government would not build the dam.
“The reaction by this particular headman reflects the effectiveness of the discreet process practised in building the dam.
“The dam construction is one dark secret kept away from those living in Baram.
“If it is occasionally mentioned by the proponents, the subject would be down-played, and watered-down with downright euphemism.
Civilization under threat
The reality, he said, was different as reported in the media.
“We learned from newspaper reports and information dripping from the project supporters speaks of an affected area covering 38,900 hectares (389 sq km) or half of the size of Singapore island.
“It will be constructed of around 180 meters above sea level and will generate 1,200 MW of electrical power.
“At least 90% of the land mass which will be flooded by the dam reservoir will be the Native Customary Rights (NCR) land.
“Relocation of the 20,000 people to make way for the Baram Dam will definitely result in a permanent social damage.
He said the Kenyah and Kayan people traditionally live in longhouses and mass relocation of the people will no doubt spell the end of the traditional social structure.
According to Kallang the construction of the dam is a ‘senseless’ exploitation of resources “which is primarily driven by avarice coupled with immorality’.
“But for us who are directly and adversely affected parties, no one can blame us in thinking that this is a calculated, intentional and purposeful manoeuvre to wipe out our races.
“The dam will not only cause the colossal environmental devastation and severe consequences on the ecosystem, but it will also rage a permanent degeneration of the ethnic identity and heritage of the natives who live in the region.
Only big companies benefit
Kallang, who is also the chairman of the Kenyah Association in Miri, said whilst the bulk of those affected were from the Kenyah community, the other groups affected included the Kayans and Penans.
“These are also the same majority groups of people who are most affected by the Bakun Dam which has just been commissioned.
He added that Baram was the least developed part of Sarawak and arguably the least developed area in the whole of Malaysia.
“So far, the only so-called ‘developments’ which are seen in Baram are the colossal and exhaustive exploitation or extraction of the Baram natural resources.
“These are like the reckless harvestings of the timber, extraction of lime stone, sand dredging, vast oil palm plantations and now the dam for hydropower electrical generation.
“Practically all the beneficiaries of these so-called developments are big companies owned by big tycoons from outside the Baram.
“Most of the workers employed at these facilities are also from outside Baram and a lot of them are foreigners.
“To say that these “developments” bring employment is a fantasy; so we do not see how the Baram dam can bring significant economic opportunities for the locals.
“Any spin-off employment is just a pie in the sky for the people of Baram,” he said.
19th September 2011, 11:01 AM
TAIB BACKS OFF BARAM! (http://www.sarawakreport.org/2011/09/taib-backs-off-baram/?utm_source=Sarawak+Report&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=a701148a1b-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN)
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 10TH, 2011 GMT
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/baram-dam-225x300.jpgThe Baram River – Taib sees only the flow of money
The climb down over the Baram Dam is very significant and everyone who has stood up in protest should accept credit. Others should take note that legitimate protest works (http://www.theborneopost.com/2011/09/09/baleh-dam-to-be-built-first-—-awg-tengah/)!
In the face of the growing outrage at the planned destruction of one of Sarawak’s most unspoilt regions and the displacement of tens of thousands of people, even the greedy Chief Minister came to the conclusion that it would be utterly foolhardy to try to fight the upcoming federal election while trying to defend the indefensible.
Now the acquisitive old tyrant hopes that he can brush aside all questions on the subject by saying that the project is “on hold”!
But don’t be fooled
However, this is not a time to heave a sigh of relief. For Taib and his diminishing gang this is just a tactical retreat. They had realised that his reckless plans were threatening to break his control over some key seats in the area in the face of the growing strength of the opposition.
They calculate that if BN can win the next election then they will have a full five years to come back and push through their plans for SCORE. Baram will be back on the agenda in no time.
So, at every point in this election campaign Taib should be asked why the Baram Dam has not been CANCELLED instead of postponed!
The full horror of SCORE - no less than 12 new dams to ruin every river in Sarawak
All those 20,000 Kenya, Kelabit, Kayan and Penan who are threatened by that dam and their fellow tribespeople should resist being taken in. They have had proof that Taib has been fully prepared to turf them out of their homes and swamp the vast area that was their homeland (having stolen all the timber first).
The fact that the old man could even CONTEMPLATE such an act should confirm to them that he can never be trusted with their votes. Some headmen will say otherwise, of course. But Taib turned the headmen from chosen representatives of the people into his own paid appointees - now headmen are supposed to say what he tells them to say or they lose their money and position.
Cut off! Many of the displaced people in Sugai Asap can’t afford electricity – even though they were promised it for free
The people should look instead at the disaster that faced the people of Bakun, who were promised jobs, wealth, comfort and grand new lives in return for the destruction of their region.
Instead, they have been housed in the sink town refugee centre of Sungai Asap, many of them facing hopeless lives with inadequate education and medical services.
What is more, the promises of free water and electricity from the dam that took their livelihoods turned out to be false. Many of these people have been cut off, because the promised ‘jobs’ have failed to provide them with the money to pay the bills (yet SESCO, run by Taib’s cousin Hamid Sepawe, turns a blind eye to the fact that the billionaire Chief Minister has cheated on his own bills by running a by-pass cable (http://www.sarawakreport.org/2011/03/taib-steals-his-electricity-exclusive-expose/)into his house!).
The fact that Taib, through his side-kick Planning Minister Awang Tengah, has announced that he has decided to carry on with the Baleh Dam immediately instead, should make it plain to all that Taib has no intention of giving up on his dreams to make himself the richest man on earth by exploiting the natural resources of Sarawak.
The Baleh Dam will also affect thousands of people and destroy great areas and a wonderful stretch of river. It is just less electorally dangerous for PBB, so all Taib has done is switch the order in which he intends to build his 12 planned dams across all the main rivers of Sarawak.
Not one of these dams serves a single demonstrable need, since the State already had excess electricity provision BEFORE the Bakun dam was completed this year.
Taib is judge and jury of his own projects
No one who is threatened by a dam should think for one minute that Taib has really changed his increasingly feeble mind. Neither should they imagine that there is a single way to stop the old dictator for as long as he is in power.
Taib is the Chief Minister, Finance Minister and Planning Minister driving the whole SCORE project forward as he attempts to raise $66 billion dollars of investment in his schemes. He has also appointed himself Chairman of the Natural Resources and Environment Board, whose job it is to approve the Environmental Impact Assessment on his own plans!
So do we think they will get approval? Do we think that the Chief Minister will approve his own self-enriching scheme? The situation is laughable, save for being so sad.
The aluminium smelting plant placed just by people’s homes in Mukah has caused multiple health problems. The deadly side-product flourine is caused by the process.
Taib’s dream is to turn Sarawak into a money-making machine for himself. He has already taken the timber and he has turned much of the land into palm oil plantation – an area he intends to double shortly. Now he wants to turn the polluted rivers into a vast power generation scheme.
He knows that many countries need this level of power to smelt aluminium and that this process is very unpopular in most places in the world, because it is so dangerous and polluting. So he is now going round courting the big aluminium companies and inviting them to come and pollute what is left of what used to be one of the cleanest and most untouched areas on earth.
Already many people of Mukah are suffering health problems because of the first such plant, which the Chairman of the Environment Board clearly thought was suitable to be placed right near to their houses and plantation areas in his own constituency.
The rest of the people of Sarawak should look at the sufferers of aluminium poisoning in Mukah and consider the future that the Chief Minister of Sarawak has in plan for them as he walks away dripping in wealth from all the investment that will have passed through his hands.
7th October 2011, 05:52 PM
FREE screening of new Sarawak film `Ulu Bengoh Darom Piin'
You are welcome to attend a free screening of a new film on Bengoh rated as `an eye-opener' by Malaysiakini and a `must watch' by PKR's Latheefa Koya & Sivarasa.
Details of the film:
Title of film: Ulu Bengoh Darom Piin
Synopsis: Voters in Bengoh villagers who are facing forced eviction due to the Bengoh dam returned the incumbent BN candidate who support the dam. Why? The film ventured into the car-less, handphone-less,internet-less interior of Sarawak to find out from a very isolated communities.
Language: English and Malay (with subtitles in both)
Director: Joachim Leong
Producer: TV Sarawak Bebas
Reviews: Malaysiakini here : http://hornbillunleashed. (http://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/24129/)wordpress.com/2011/10/06/ (http://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/24129/)24129/ (http://hornbillunleashed.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/24129/)
Film blog: http://www.bengohdry.blogspot. (http://www.bengohdry.blogspot.com/)com (http://www.bengohdry.blogspot.com/)
Film maker's own write up: http://www.loyarburok.com/ (http://www.loyarburok.com/2011/10/03/urban-rural-divide-2/?doing_wp_cron)2011/10/03/urban-rural-divide- (http://www.loyarburok.com/2011/10/03/urban-rural-divide-2/?doing_wp_cron)2/?doing_wp_cron (http://www.loyarburok.com/2011/10/03/urban-rural-divide-2/?doing_wp_cron)
Film Screening: Ulu Bengoh Darom Piin
8 Oct(Sat), 8pm @ Pusat Rakyat LoyarBurok, 3-4, 4th Floor, Jalan Bangsar Utama 3, KL.
Additional programs: 3 Sarawakian activists from Baram, including Mark Bujang from Brimas, will be around to share their anti-Baram dam campaign!
DVDs are available for sales-all proceeds go towards installing mini-hydro in the new Bengoh villages.
See you there!
23rd February 2012, 02:02 PM
Progress and Development?
Posted Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012
This post is also available in: Iban (http://www.sarawakreport.org/iba/2012/02/pemaju-enggau-pemansang/), Malay (http://www.sarawakreport.org/ms/2012/02/kemajuan-dan-pembangunan/)
Floating homes - Is this what Taib means by progress and development for the poor people of Sarawak?
These are the scenes they have been trying to hide, by setting up an exclusion zone to prevent NGOs and journalists from entering the region behind the Bakun Dam.
However, Bruno Manser Fund workers have managed to breech that barrier in order to get exclusive pictures of the devastation behind the dam, which has now filled a lake the size of Singapore in the heart of Sarawak.
For the first time we are able to bring scenes of the conditions under which the Ukit people, who are struggling to stay on their lands, are being forced to live as the rising waters have flooded their territories.
Taib may be gleeful at the great wealth that Bakun promises to bring to companies owned by him as he does deals with foreign smelters and factories, eager for dirt cheap electricity.
However there is little sign that any of that benefit has spread to the people who owned these lands, which were first logged of their valuable timber by Ekran, owned by Taib’s sons and their crony Ting Pek Kiing.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Bakun-shack-2-600x452.pngDevastating poverty and squalor for the Ukit people who lost their lands to Taib's self-enriching project
Taib forcibly moved tens of thousands of people off their lands into the squalid re-settlement camp at Sungai Asap as he set about logging the area and building the second largest dam in the world.
The promise was that in return they would receive lives of comfort and modernity and that they would ‘progress and develop’ in line with the modern world. But, of course, the money went elsewhere.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/bakun-devastation-600x402.pngBakun - yet another environmental disaster for Sarawak's jungle and its people. Taib wants to build 12 more!
Promised free electricity and water did not eventuate and many of the people have no jobs and cannot afford even the bus to send their children to school, thus ensuring the cycle of their poverty remains.
And of course the compensation was laughable and the quick-build housing devised by Ting Pek Kiing (now bankrupt) has already started to fall apart.
No help from the government
So, little surprise that so many of the local people, after ten years of misery in their ‘resettlement homes’ decided to return to their ancestral lands come what may and to defy the rising dam waters.
No one was allowed to come and see this unfolding tragedy behind the dam. We can now see why! The BMF worker who photographed these scenes has spoken of the tragic circumstances:
“The extent of suffering by the displaced communities is shocking. Hundreds of displaced people are living in floating homes on the Bakun impoundment. Malaysia’s showcase development project has turned into a disaster dam. An indigenous Ukit community now living in floating homes was forcibly displaced while their village and graveyards were flooded”, explained the worker Anna Meier.
The headman of the village had explained to her their aim is to build a new longhouse onshore near our former village:
“But we lack the funds and the government refuses to support us.”
As their traditional farmlands have been flooded, the Ukits live from fishing, hunting and harvesting some of the trees flooded by Bakun dam. Compare their desperation to the extraordinary gains now being made by the architect of this plan, Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Using cheap electricity from the dam, which the BN Government forcibly used the pension funds of civil servants to build, Taib is now lining up foreign smelting companies to build in Sarawak.
End of a jungle
With each of these contracts he makes sure that his company CMS receives huge cuts in return for his granting of permits and electricity deals. Sarawak Report will be focusing on this extraordinary corruption in upcoming reports.
Remember, Bakun is just Stage 1 out of Stage 12 in Taib’s SCORE corridor of energy, as he makes ready to turn tens of thousands more people from their homes. They should consider the fate of the Ukit and decide whether this is the progress and development they really need, or just a get very rich quick scheme for Taib Mahmud.
27th February 2012, 12:38 PM
Bought By Belian! Baram’s Betrayal By BN MP – MAJOR EXCLUSIVE (http://www.sarawakreport.org/2012/02/bought-by-belian-barams-betrayal-by-bn-mp-major-exclusive/?utm_source=Sarawak+Report&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=6d011dbdd2-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN)
Posted Saturday, February 25th, 2012
Local man who has swapped loyalty for wealth
The people of Baram have been sold down their own river by their native MP, the Federal Deputy Trade & Industry Minister Jacob Sagan!
Sarawak Report has received exclusive information, indicating that the local man’s support for Taib’s plans to flood his own area has been bought by two large timber concessions, allowing him to log Belian wood!
The shocking betrayal explains why Sagan, who is himself a Kenyah, born in Long Anap on the banks of the Baram River, is refusing to prevent Taib’s plans to build yet another dam in the region.
The proposed Baram Dam would flood about 400 square kilometres of forest lands and displace around 20,000 indigenous people from Sagan’s own community, including his home village of Long Anap. Altogether, 26 Kenyah, Kayan and Penan villages will be drowned under water.
Secret Belian concessions for Taib cronies!
Precious hardwood forest. Belian Timber licences are only handed out to 'special people'!
Local people have been at a loss to understand Sagan’s support for the project, which would destroy one of Borneo’s most precious remaining rainforest regions and the livelihoods of its people.
There is no further need for electricity in Sarawak, so the dam has been condemned as unnecessary.
However, secret Forestry Department Maps have now been made available to Sarawak Report, which give one very persuasive reason.
The maps show that Sagan has been handed two hugely valuable Belian timber concessions right within his own region!
Forestry map key that shows that striped red stands for Belian Timber Concession
Standard timber concessions rarely include Belian, which is an endangered species and extremely valuable.
Under normal licences the loggers are supposed to leave such special conservation species standing and it is subject to a total export ban.
However, rumours have persisted that special concessions for Belian timber have been given out to Taib’s political cronies to buy their support.
Our maps show that there is indeed a network of these Belian concessions in the Baram area, which still has stretches of virgin forest and it names the companies and the licence numbers.
Winjac Sdn Bhd and Milisha Holdings Sdn Bhd
Two of these concessions are placed right in the middle of Jacob Sagan’s own Baram constituency area and cover an impressive area amounting to some 15 square kilometres. The companies owning the concessions are named Winjac Sdn Bhd and Milisha Holdings Sdn Bh.
Winjac Sdn Bhd & Miilisha Holdings Sdn Bhd - Belian concessions in Baram
Wider maps show that these two concessions are situated right in the middle of the Baram region, near the Indonesian border and not far from Jacob Sagan’s birthplace of Long Anap.
While, Sagan has travelled far and enjoyed a good life, thanks to becoming an ultra-loyal supporter of Taib, most of his relatives still live in this area.
Regional map showing the timber concessions belonging to Winjac & Milisha Sdn Bhd
The value of these concessions run into millions of ringgit, according to experts in the business. Belian is an endangered species and takes hundreds of years to grow into the mature ‘iron wood’ , for which it is famous.
Belian leaf - surely the wealth of the forests should be conserved and shared?
The wood can sell at up to RM6,000 a ton, which is a sign of its growing scarcity, caused by the greed of the timber companies who have invaded Sarawak’s forests.
So, who is getting these favoured concessions worth such wealth and what are they paying for them?
Indeed, under normal uncorrupted practices Belian would be banned from being logged altogether, just as it is supposedly banned from being exported.
Also, under normal uncorrupted practices, any licence that was given out would be tendered, so that the licence would go to the highest bidder and the money for the licence could then be used by the government to improve the lives of local people.
Timber licence money would be one way to pay for schools, roads, electricity, water pumps and better health care and allowances. However, the people of Baram remain poor and with few such services.
So, who has these concessions and what did they pay?
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Milisha-Holdings-600x356.pngMilisha Holdings Sdn Bhd is jointly owned by Jacob Sagan himself and his wife, Winnie Jolly!
It turns out the shareholders of the company Milisha Holdings Sdn Bhd are other than local MP and Government Minister, Jacob Sagan and his wife Winnie Jolly!
Did Jacob Sagan tell his voters?
This demands an explanation from Taib Mahmud and Jacob Sagan, preferably to the forces of law and order. Because, to secretly hand an MP of your own political party a large and valuable timber concession is a scandalous conflict of interest.
People in public office should not get involved in any form of business involving state concessions, for obvious reasons, and any business interests should be openly declared.
But, there is no evidence that Sagan has publicly declared this timber licence BT/9107, granted to his company Milisha Holdings. Nor is there any evidence that he has declared licence BT/1962, which he also holds through his wife and daughter’s ownership of Winjac Sdn Bhd.http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Winjac--600x330.pngSagan's wife and daughter own this other timber company with Belian concessions in the Baram region
Perhaps we will learn how many of Jacob Sagan’s constituents were aware that
Jacob Sagan has been handed two Belian concessions worth millions of ringgit, thanks to Taib’s Planning and Resources Ministry.
With what did Sagan pay for this concession?
Sagan at a party for SPDP, his party which is known for its loyalty for Taib and BN
Next, it is important to discover how much did Jacob Sagan pay for this secretive concession that has been granted to him in the land belonging to his own voters by the BN government of Taib Mahmud?
Such a valuable concession, worth millions of ringgit, should have cost a very great deal in premium payments to the statute.
However, on his salary as an MP of RM12,000 a month how could he afford this?
His previous career as a Sarawak civil servant could not legitimately have made him a rich man either!
At the moment, because Taib keeps all his timber negotiations a scandalous secret, we have no information about how much Sagan paid, if anything.
As a result, we are left with the inevitable conclusion that Sagan has paid for these concessions with the one thing that he has that is of value to Taib Mahmud, which is his political support.
So, if Taib has decided that he can make himself wealthier by flooding the people of Baram and using the electricity to power factories owned by himself, then BN MPs like Jacob Sagan have no choice but to support him.
It is plain that Jacob Sagan’s loyalty has been bought by Belian.
Because he has been bought by Belian, Jacob Sagan can no longer fight for what is right for his people.
So, even if Taib decides to flood their lands, destroy their livings and move all his relatives to resettlement towns with minimal compensation, Jacob Sagan has to keep supporting Taib.
If not, Jacob and his wife and family would lose their Belian concessions and have to live on their actual income of RM12,000 a month.
That might sound a very good salary for most people, but BN MPs have got used to living like kings, because they have sold their duty towards their people in return for licences to plunder them.
Will any of Sarawak's trees be allowed to stay standing, as BN's MPs set about plundering what is left of the state?
25th May 2012, 04:59 PM
Vote for BN, for God's sake
Taib's promise was never kept, to no-one's surprise.
http://mk-cdn.mkini.net/466/bba8fe7aad8d47dc1df8d46b0f05fd5f.jpgThe gentle Penan leaders had invited all 71 state assembly representatives to hear their plan for an area protected from logging and other incursions.
The Penan chiefs proposed an ecologically conserved Penan Peace Park covering 1,628 square kilometres.
All 15 DAP and PKR members showed up to the presentation to support the Penan proposal, but not a single BN member replied to the invitation.
There was also dignity in the restrained joy shown by villagers from Sebangan, Sebuyau, this week, when the High Court awarded a land rights victory to them over the state government.
Taib's administration had allowed Quality Concrete, partly owned by Taib's sister Radziah @ Roziah, a 'provisional licence' to log on native customary rights land.
When local native landowners protested (http://www.tindakmalaysia.com/[http://m.malaysiakini.com/news/158308]), the 'Sebangan Seven' were jailed, and then released without charge, as a form of intimidation.
There was also courage and dignity on display, when native representatives from 13 different villages in middle Baram met in Long San, to sign a joint letter of protest against the Baram Dam.
After months of promising that the Baram Dam was merely a proposal, and after insisting it had been shelved pending public consultation, the state government announced that local communities would be uprooted to somewhere in the highlands of Usun Apau.
Desperate times, desperate measures
In contrast, there was conspicuously less dignity in the desperate measures taken by Lawas MP Henry Sum Agung to defend his seat in the upcoming general election.
On May 9, the Borneo Post reported that the MP had urged the (mainly Christian) Lun Bawang majority in his constituency to vote for the BN, because "the Lun Bawang must uphold their integrity and not act as ‘Judas' of BN (http://www.tindakmalaysia.com/[http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/05/09/lun-bawang-asked-to-state-their-stand-with-bn/]) (sic) which had contributed much to their well-being".
Henry Sum Agong's comparison of the BN to Jesus triggered a furious reaction.
Baru Bian, PKR state assemblyperson for Ba'kelalan and a Lun Bawang from Lawas, called Henry Sum's remark "ludicrous, if not blasphemous".
http://mk-cdn.mkini.net/361/7dec3aa8b5de9fd2c0d860486fc895b9.jpgBaru Bian (right) has long campaigned for decent public services in Lawas. Local villagers languish without paved roads, treated water or electricity, in most parts of this vast division.
"I humbly urge not only the Lun Bawangs in Lawas or Sarawakians in Limbang, but all Malaysians, to remember it was not that we the rakyat betrayed the BN government, instead the BN government that had betrayed and short-changed the rakyat for the last 50 years", he said in a press statement.
The Archbishops of the Catholic and Anglican churches in Sarawak, the two largest congregations of Christians, did not respond to requests for comments on the 'Judas' quote.
If Henry Sum Agong is relying on divine intervention to retain his parliamentary seat, he may be disappointed.
Looking to divine intervention
Politics does not divide neatly into good and evil - there are shades of grey. Demonising opponents does not advance political debate.
Many Malaysian Christians insist that religion must be left out of politics completely, quoting the biblical exhortation to "render unto Caesar the things that belong to Caesar; render unto God those things that belong to God".
But most do not understand that all that belong to Caesar also belong to God.
As Mahatma Gandhi said, "those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." Demagogues have tried, throughout history, to manipulate God to stay in power.
As geneticist Johnjoe McFadden described in the British newspaper The Guardian, a study published by Lee Ross and his Stanford University colleagues in March found that the image of Jesus held among left-leaning or liberal Christian Americans bears little resemblance to that imagined by Christian conservatives.
"The researchers asked respondents to imagine what Jesus would have thought about contemporary issues (http://www.tindakmalaysia.com/[http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/mar/04/jesus-liberals-conservatives]) such as taxation, immigration, same-sex marriage and abortion," McFadden wrote.
"Perhahttp://mk-cdn.mkini.net/354/e9df5d28f93f8ab3e0e599610fcdad7f.jpgps not surprisingly, Christian Republicans imagined a Jesus who tended to be against wealth redistribution, illegal immigrants, abortion and same-sex marriage; whereas the Jesus of Democrat-voting Christians would have had far more liberal opinions.
The Bible may claim that God created man in his own image, but the study suggests man creates God in his own image."
Henry Sum Agong has certainly attempted to have himself and his party cast in the divine image.
But the BN's ban of the word "Allah" in Christian worship, and the confiscation of Bibles in Malay, have caused widespread disquiet among Christian Sarawakians.
Henry Sum Agong's 'Judas' rhetoric has caused more unhappiness, and his chances of retaining his Lawas parliamentary seat remain decidedly shaky.
KERUAH USIT is a human rights activist - ‘anak Sarawak, bangsa Malaysia’. This weekly column is an effort to provide a voice for marginalised Malaysians. Keruah Usit can be contacted at email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org)
22nd August 2012, 05:16 PM
Sarawak Makes A Date On Australian TV (http://www.sarawakreport.org/2012/08/sarawak-makes-a-date-on-australian-tv/?utm_source=Sarawak+Report&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=60d61a66eb-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN)
****Follow the link for the video****
Posted Tuesday, August 21st, 2012
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Screen-Shot-2012-08-21-at-18.08.53-300x209.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Screen-Shot-2012-08-21-at-18.08.53.png)Prime Time TV in Australia makes a Date with Sarawak
Australia’s longest-running and highly prestigious TV current affairs programme,Dateline (http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/related/aid/615/id/601522/n/The-Last-Frontier), has just devoted a full half hour show to the problems of logging in Sarawak and to Taib Mahmud’s crazy plan to build 12 more dams in the state
Their veteran reporter, David O’Shea, spent days filming in Sarawak and interviewing people who had been flooded from their homes by Bakun,
He also visited some of the villages which have been suffering from gangster attacks on behalf of logging companies.
These are, of course, daily issues for the poor people of Sarawak and they are heard about daily on the show Radio Free Sarawak. However, for many Australians what is happening to the people of Sarawak and to their beautiful forest will come as a shock and surprise.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Screen-Shot-2012-08-21-at-18.15.30-300x190.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Screen-Shot-2012-08-21-at-18.15.30.png)David O'Shea - the Dateline journalist who toured Sarawak last month
O’Shea features the Ukit people of Bakun, who have been reduced to living in their old homes, which are now floating on the waters of the gigantic lake which has flooded their lands.
He also interviews many villagers, whose timber is being ripped out by Ta Ann, the company owned and run by Taib’s cousin, Hamed Sepawi.
Later on the programme he challenges Sepawi and a Sarawak Electricity Board spokesmen about why they are driving through 12 more unnecessary dams without even conducting the proper consultation and impact assessments first?
Sarawak Report also took part in an interview about the corruption that is the real reason behind the building of these dams and the destruction of Sarawak’s great forests. However, Taib Mahmud himself refused several requests to be interviewed. Does he not dare to face tough questions from journalists whom he cannot control?
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Screen-Shot-2012-08-21-at-18.44.28-300x210.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Screen-Shot-2012-08-21-at-18.44.28.png)Eco-wood? Tasmania's old growth forests are being destroyed to supply Ta Ann's sawmills
Australia has become increasingly embroiled in the controversial activities in the State of Sarawak in recent years through a series of ties that have been developed between Hamed Sepawi and theState of Tasmania. (http://www.sarawakreport.org/?s=tasmania&lang=en) These matters have been frequently highlighted on Sarawak Report. (http://www.sarawakreport.org/?s=tasmania&lang=en)
To begin with, in 2008, Sepawi’s company Ta Ann signed a deal with Tasmania to log out large areas of its native forests, many of which had been earmarked for protection. Outraged environmentalists then discovered that Sepawi was marketing this wood as environmentally friendly “eco-wood”.
Much of this wood was marketed in Japan (http://www.sarawakreport.org/2011/10/truth-in-advertising-ta-ann-exposed/), but the scandal also hit London during the recent Olympic Games, when it was discovered that Ta Ann had also falsely sold the flooring for the construction of the London Sports Dock, where basketball was to be played. That contract was cancelled as were key contracts in Japan.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Screen-Shot-2012-08-21-at-18.46.06-300x228.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Screen-Shot-2012-08-21-at-18.46.06.png)Dams - Hydro-Tasmania has now picked up a huge contract to consult on Sarawak's dam projects. But, the risk of involvement in such controversial developments are raising questions in the state.
Meanwhile, in one of his many other roles as Chairman of SEB Hamed Sepawi has simultaneously engaged Hydro-Tasmania to help lead the construction of Taib’s planned wave of destructive dams, which will displace tens of thousands of people and destroy Sarawak’s remaining great rivers and jungles.
David O’Shea explores these tangled relationships between the state industries of Tasmania and the state industries of Sarawak, which of course are mired in the corruption and graft of Taib Mahmud.
28th August 2012, 10:25 AM
Taib Caves In Over Bakun’s Refugees – But Who Can Trust BN?
Posted Monday, August 27th, 2012
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/pic_Ukit_on_floating_house2-300x225.jpg (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/pic_Ukit_on_floating_house2.jpeg)Flooded out - One of Bakun's floating homes, 'jelatongs' that BN are now proposing to outlaw after being shamed on Australian TV
Following the expose on Australia’s Dateline programme (http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/about/id/601522/n/The-Last-Frontier) last week, Taib’s state government has at last agreed to fulfil its own promises made to the people of Sungai Asap more than ten years ago.
Land Development Minister, James Masing has now announced that these refugees are entitled to the homes into which they were forcibly moved and they are no longer being expected to pay the government tens of thousands of ringgit for their new dwellings.
So, the message is clear. When you are dealing with a government like BN you need to stand up for your rights and protest, otherwise they will exploit and abandon you.
There is no worse example of cheating and exploitation that what has been done to the 10,000 people of Bakun who have been flooded from their lands by that enormous dam. The same happened to the people of Batang Ai and the same looks set to happen to all the hundreds of thousands more Sarawakians who are now threatened by Taib’s plans to build another 12 monstrous and unnecessary dams.
Promises are cheap
The people of Bakun were of course made to understand that they had no choice about their removal. However, at the time they were promised that they could expect compensation in the form of replacement housing, jobs, compensation payments, land and also wealth from the electricity of the dam. Free water and electricity were also frequently mentioned to local people by the politicians and bureaucrats who encouraged them to accept the move.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/sungai-asap-30-600x242.jpg (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/sungai-asap-30.jpg)Just not home - the 'resettlement' at Sungai Asap - refugees have been threatened they must pay tens of thousands of ringgit each to the government for these homes
Once they got to the bleak pre-fabricated housing of the resettlement town of Sungai Asap they realised they had been misled. Officials now told them they would have to pay for their new homes and that these were being valued far higher than the compensation payments they had received for their old homes. Who had the RM50,000 plus that was being asked by the government for the structures that soon turned out to be badly built and sub-standard?
On top of that, protestors told the Dateline programme that the five acres of land that had been promised to each family, so that they could farm their own food, was never granted. Some families have found small plots, but the government has never handed them their land titles.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Bakun-inundated-300x225.jpg (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Bakun-inundated.jpg)Bakun - producing electricity that many residents of Sungai Asap cannot afford to pay for
So what happened to the billions and billions of ringitt that were made out of deforesting this vast area the size of Singapore in advance of the dam being built?
Why was none of this money used to compensate the local people, pay for their new homes, build adequate hospitals and schools, train them for new jobs and do all the things that had been promised by Taib’s politicians?
What happened to all the promised “progress and development”?
We know what happened to the money when we look at the big houses and jet set life-styles of BN’s politicians and their timber cronies. Bakun was never about helping the poor people of Sarawak.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/ukip-people-300x225.jpg (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/ukip-people.jpg)The Ukit have returned to their old lands and old homes, which are now floating on the water. BN plans to make them illegal
Faced with hunger and squalor and misery in Sungai Asap, many of those native people have now returned to their original village homes, which are now floating on the sides of Bakun’s enormous man-made lake.
Their pitiful plight and the outrageous story of their exploitation shown on prime-time Australian television is what has provoked the sudden stand down.
Masing (http://www.sarawakreport.org/2012/03/depraved-datuks-new-shocking-evidence-against-mong-masing/), who had been the original Chairman of the Bakun Dam Resettlement Committee and therefore directly to blame for much of the misery, admitted in yesterday’s statement (http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/8/27/sarawak/11918270&sec=sarawak) that the state government had previously adopted the stance that it would pay “full compensation” for all previous houses affected by the Bakun Dam project, while demanding the families should pay for the new homes built for them.
No surprise that the government put a low value on the houses it confiscated and a high one on the new ones it provided!
But now he has conceded that the state government has climbed down. Masing (http://www.sarawakreport.org/2012/03/spotlight-on-masing-corruption-exclusive/) claimed it was the visit by the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak before the last state election that had overruled this mean and arbitrary arrangement. The PM had been worried at the bad publicity and was seeking a vote catcher and so agreed the Federal Government should pay 50% of the cost of removing the poor refugees from their debt.
Voters held to ransom?
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/James-Masing.jpg (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/James-Masing.jpg)James Masing has presided over this mess for twelve years - how can people trust another set of pre-election promises from this man?
However, Masing’s speech revealed a further scandal! The money had been paid by the Federal Government in advance of the April 2011 election, yet 18 months later the State Government is still sitting on it!
Masing (http://www.sarawakreport.org/2012/03/helping-his-constituents-or-helping-himself-billy-abit-joo-expose/) was blatant about Taib’s tactics in this respect. He plans to use the announcement in order to curry favour with voters over two elections! The promise of money that was made before the state elections in 2011 is to be announced again just before the next Federal Election, which is likely to be in 2013!
Why should the suffering people of Sungai Asap be forced to wait another two years to be given their right and to have promises fulfilled when at least the Federal Government has paid its share of the deal a good two years previously?
Do we think it is because Taib lacks funds or do we think it is because he is determined once again to try and bribe people with things that should be rightfully theirs?
Twelve years after their brutal banishment from their lands the people of Bakun are still waiting for promises to be fulfilled. And while it is good that Taib’s government has now been shamed into repeating these promises , who can believe a word BN say in advance of an election?
Masing should take heed of what his colleague Senator Idris Buang told Dateline (http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/transcript/id/601522/n/The-Last-Frontier) in his interview. The Senator said that any instances of outstanding compensation should be considered illegal!:
“they ought to be compensated. It would be illegal, actually, if they’re not”.
Yet there are thousands of such cases in Sungai Asap and his BN government has perpetrated illegal land grabs and requisitions against tens of thousands more throughout Sarawak.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/bakun-shack-e1346082685565-227x300.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/bakun-shack.png)Shrine to a past life - the tragic jelatongs of Bakun lake number 270 !
The people should learn from this lesson that ten years of meekness was rewarded only by meanness from BN and that only by standing up for their rights and by joining the demands of the opposition parties and human rights lawyers, who have been fighting their cause, have they managed even to gain the smallest concessions.
And they should never trust Taib to fulfil those concessions when they are made BEFORE an election with a commitment to delivering AFTER the election!
Taib’s government is now trying to ban the people (http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/08/25/srb-bans-construction-of-structures-on-bakun-lake/#ixzz24jPFHiW4)who had in desperation returned to their floating homes after finding they could not make a living in Sugai Asap. BN want to make an exclusion zone and outlaw these shrines to the past history of the Ukit people.
Is this a government that anyone wants to retain at the next election?
21st September 2012, 01:40 PM
Al Jazeera TV Picks Up On Sarawak’s Dam Disaster (http://www.sarawakreport.org/2012/09/al-jazeera-tv-picks-up-on-sarawaks-dam-disaster/?utm_source=Sarawak+Report&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=8518641a03-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN)
20 Sep 2012
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Al-Jazeera-101-East--300x233.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Al-Jazeera-101-East-.png)Just as they tried to silence the Last Frontier programme on Australia’s SBS, the film has popped up on Al Jazeera!
Sarawak’s dam builders are learning how hard it is to stem a leak.
The truth about Taib’s monstrous plans and their terrible impact on the people and the environment was finally revealed in a film by Australia’s Dateline programme, Last Frontier.
Ever since that film was broadcast a couple of weeks ago the big players involved have been trying to slap it down and bully the broadcaster SBS into endless retractions. They have even been fighting to get the company to take it off the internet altogether.
The Australian dam builders Hydro-Tasmania, who have been acting as the key advisor on all Sarawak’s future construction plans, has actually been lobbying SBS to issue a formal apology for the programme even being made!
Given the crawling response (http://www.sbs.com.au/dateline/story/related/aid/629/id/601522/n/The-Last-Frontier) by the company’s ‘ombudsman’, it looked as if Hydro-Tasmania, Ta Ann and Sarawak Energy’s combined onslaught of self-pitying complaints might well achieve that end.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Dateline-alert-and-apology-600x279.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Dateline-alert-and-apology.png)Apology for revealing the truth ! The programme was about Taib’s plans to destroy huge areas of Sarawak with 12 new dams which would affect hundreds of thousands of people
Think of the barrage of complaints by Hydro-Tas, Ta Ann and Sarawak Energy as the PR equivalent of a mountain of glue and concrete being poured over a crack in Bakun!
With SBS climbing down these companies have clearly judged that the film could be turned into another stick to beat poor Sarawak people, who are protesting against the destruction of their lands.
But, just as the job was being made good, the damaging story has sprung up again on an entirely new Channel! Al Jazeera has run with the story also on its global programme 101 East (http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/101east/).
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-12.12.17-600x579.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-12.12.17.png)No fear about doing the right thing – the Muslim world’s top TV station has not hesitated to risk Taib’s wrath over this show.
“Alleged corruption, rights violations and environmental degradation”
The TV Channel, which one of the most highly regarded 24 hour news channels in the world and is headquartered in Doha, has long been a close watcher of Taib Mahmud’s management of Sarawak. In its title page it acknowledges that “alleged corruption, rights violations and environmental degradation plague Malaysia’s controversial Bakun dam project”. It goes on to say:
“Thousands are set to lose their homes, as a controversial hydro power scheme gets underway. In the Malaysian state of Sarawak, the Bakun Dam has already flooded an area the size of Singapore. Some of those displaced say they’ve never received the full compensation they were promised. The state government, working with Australian company Hydro Tasmania, is embarking on an ambitious plan to build a further 12 dams – flooding vast tracts of river valley land – and displacing tens of thousands of indigenous people. Hydro Tasmania, an Australian state-owned energy company is involved with dam construction projects in Sarawak by the Sarawak Energy Board while Malaysian timber giant Ta Ann has received major timber harvesting contracts in Tasmania. Both businesses are linked through Hamed Sepawi, who is the chairman of Sarawak Energy Board and Ta Ann. He is also a cousin and close business associate of the state’s Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. Clare Rewcastle Brown, the sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, say there is a lack of accountability and transparency over the hydropower projects. Environmentalists and political activists in Malaysia and Australia are calling for the ‘unhealthy’ business ties between Tasmania and Sarawak to be investigated and audited by an independent body. The Malaysian government says the 20 gigawatt project capacity can change the economic face of Sarawak and says its links with Hydro Tasmania are legitimate, while the companies involved deny any wrongdoing.”[Last Frontier, Al Jazeera (http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/101east/2012/09/2012913111958210349.html)]
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-12.30.32-300x216.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-12.30.32.png)Abdul Aziz Husain – another family member brought in by Taib to run key state industries
In a previous show in 2009 101 East had already questioned Taib’s close involvement in the plans and examines “how the people of Sarawak lose out when family and business intertwine”. (http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/101east/2009/03/2009318105348309246.html)
The programme focuses on the huge sums of money that Taib’s own family company CMS stands to make out of the dams from its monopoly over cement in the state.
Bakun was the single biggest market for CMS cement explains reporter Howard Davies, but the company has also benefited from hundreds of millions of dollars worth of other contracts handed to it by Taib himself in a blatant conflict of interest.
“From small beginnings in the cement industry it has built itself up to be the largest company in the state. Typical of its deals is the huge new State Parliament Building in the capital Kuching, a contract awarded by the State Government. Similar state contracts for a convention centre, roads, dams, power stations, hospitals, airports, bridges and a highly lucrative highway repair deals have also come into it, worth hundreds of millions of US dollars” [Fight the power (http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/101east/2009/03/2009318105348309246.html), Al Jazeera]
Al Jazeera also points out that the spokesman for Sarawak promoting the dams was yet another of Taib’s own close relatives, his brother-in-law and the then Managing Director of Sarawak Energy, Abdul Aziz Husain. None of this comes as a surprise to readers of Sarawak Report, who now know also that the so-called Thief Minister has amassed a personal fortune of USD$15billion under conservative estimates.
Hydro-Tasmania cannot avoid blame
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-16.04.18-300x198.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-16.04.18.png)Hydro-Tasmania CEO went on to ABC Radio to complain about the film
So should Al Jazeera brace itself for a barrage of lawyers’ letters and big businesses bullying, now that they have again broadcast this important story right around the world?
The key complaint by Hydro-Tasmania over the film has been that their role in Sarawak had been “exaggerated” and that they should not be held accountable for any shortcomings in the environmental or social management of Taib’s planned dam projects.
Sally Begbie, the SBS ‘Ombudsman’ cravenly accepted this argument within a matter of hours. But how much research did she do?
The internationally respected and renowned NGO International Rivers knows all about the rules relating to dam building and it has written a devastating response to Ms Begbie’s ruling in favour of Hydro-Tasmania:
“The evidence of corruption and human rights abuses surrounding the Sarawak dams is well documented, and the Dateline story highlighted many of these concerns.” says International Rivers in its statement entitled Hydro-Tasmania washes its hands of human rights violations in Malaysia (http://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/267/hydro-tasmania-washes-its-hands-of-human-rights-violations-in-malaysia).
The NGO continues, “The head of the Sarawak government, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, has been in power for over 30 years and his family members have controlling ownership of many of the companies receiving contracts. While promoting the development of the dams, Chief Minister Taib simultaneously oversees the environmental board that is in charge of reviewing the projects for potentially harmful impacts.
Malaysian government officials have also acknowledged the human rights concerns surrounding the dams. In 2011, after 10,000 indigenous people affected by the Bakun Dam had spent a decade of severe poverty in the resettlement town, the Prime Minister of Malaysia visited the community to promise more compensation. In 2009, the Malaysia Human Rights Commission identified several ongoing concerns with the Murum Dam that is now under construction. No official investigation has examined the next-in-line Baram Dam. However, over the past year, hundreds of indigenous people have actively spoken out against the project and the lack of meaningful consultations. Despite these concerns, the Sarawak government has not made public any information about the Murum’s or Baram Dam’s environmental and social impacts”.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-15.22.30-600x289.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-15.22.30.png)International Rivers takes up the cause of the Sarawak people and confronts Hydro-Tasmania on its denials of corporate responsibility
In answer to the question whether Hydro-Tasmania’s role in all this is merely minor and should not be criticised the respected NGO says this:
“As a consultant, does Hydro Tasmania have a responsibility to pay attention to human rights violations in the projects that it supports?
According to the United Nations, the answer is unambiguously yes.
In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which outline international standards for how companies are expected to act when faced with potential human rights violations in their operations… Hydro Tasmania has committed publicly in its Sustainability Code to follow international best practice, presumably including this one.
It does not matter if the company only provides consulting services and is not the lead developer—it is still expected to conduct due diligence to ensure that it is not contributing to human rights violations. In a state such as Sarawak, where corruption is well-documented and deeply embedded at the highest levels of government, heightened due diligence is required before a company decides to engage.”
Forced to admit further involvement
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-15.06.50-150x150.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-15.06.50.png)Tasmanian Green MP Kim Booth has extracted information on Hydro-Tasmania’s activities in Sarawak.
Furthermore, Hydro-Tasmania has just been forced to admit that its involvement in Sarawak’s dam projects is much more extensive and important that it has been attempting to make out.
In response to a Freedom of Information request from a Tasmanian Green MP, Kim Booth, the company has acknowledged documents relating to its contracts with Sarawak, but it has denied access on commercial grounds.
These contracts entail numerous key services, including advice on the design of key features of the Murum Dam, providing an assessment on “numerous contractual disputes” and, even more significantly, providing feasibility assessments on a number of locations to provide technical opinion on the most suitable locations for the next stages of Taib’s 12 projected new dams.
Hydro-Tasmania is also providing feasibility studies for the two next hydro-electric projects in Belaga and Metjawah. Some of these services are laid out below:
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-14.40.22-600x536.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-14.40.22.png)Access Denied! – although the disclosure of this information may be of public interest it may harm our business interests!
So, when the evidence shows they are up to their necks in involvement with Sarawak’s dam projects what right has Hydro-Tasmania to claim their role has been ‘exaggerated”?
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-15.18.38-176x300.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-20-at-15.18.38.png)Our man in Malaysia – Andrew Pattle is the Hydro-Tasmania employee on secondment in Sarawak acting as the Project Director on Murum, and Project Manager on the Baram and Baleh Dams.
And since they have been involved in so many feasibility studies, on what grounds are these studies, which should be made publicly available in line with good practice, being kept secret?
According to their own refusals, Hydro-Tasmania accept that the release of these documents would be in the public interest, but say that it may harm their business interests. Do profits for Australia come first and the lives of the local people and the future of the Borneo Jungle come second?
Sarawak Report questions how is it that Hydro-Tasmania has the brass neck to claim that it maintains the highest benchmark of standards on social and corporate responsibility when feasibility studies that should be made public are kept private?
The PKR leader and State Assemblyman Baru Bian, who has championed native rights for decades as a leading lawyer, has also written to challenge the decision by SBS to apologise for the show. Theletter head (http://www.internationalrivers.org/files/attached-files/letter_from_baru_bian_to_sbs.pdf) on Bian’s letter quotes an illustrative proverb from the Bible:
“let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream” Amos 5:24
Hydro-Tasmania can send in their lawyers all over again. But now this story has sprung its first leak, like the proverb says, their arguments may be washed away in a torrent of truth!
Download Baru Bian’s letter (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Ombudsman-Sally-Begbie-copy-2.pdf).
28th September 2012, 10:39 AM
GENOCIDE ! – Murum’s Secret “Resettlement Action Plan” Revealed – EXCLUSIVE EXPOSE (http://www.sarawakreport.org/2012/09/genocide-murums-secret-resettlement-action-plan-revealed-exclusive-expose/?utm_source=Sarawak+Report&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=a89dacbeaf-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN)Admin: Taib could not have done this alone. The contractors, consultants and politicians who took part in this heartless scheme must go to jail.
28 Sep 2012
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Murum-blockade-2-300x225.jpg (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Murum-blockade-2.jpg)Sarawak Energy – keep off our lands! The desperation of the Penan people who have lost their hunting grounds and are starving
We can disclose that shocking revelations from a leaked report are what lie behind the massive road block at the Murum Dam site, where scores of lorries have been brought to a grinding halt by Penan tribespeople.
The impoverished hunter-gatherers mounted the desperate protest in response to learning key details of the resettlement and compensation plans, drawn up by the Government for when their homes are soon flooded by rising waters.
The plans were disgracefully kept secret until they were leaked to Sarawak Report earlier this week.
The secrecy was in defiance of international protocols, which require full consultation and disclosure to affected peoples before construction even begins.
Murum itself was of course also kept secret during the first two years of the dam’s construction, during which time Taib ravaged the jungle and blew tunnels through a sacred mountain area without permission.
But even now that this disgraceful project is in the open, our exclusive copy of the so-called “Resettlement Action Plan” for the native Western Penan shows that promises of fair and decent compensation amount to nothing less than the systematic ethnic genocide of these ancient hunter-gatherers.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Murum-6-600x450.jpg (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Murum-6.jpg)Brought to a standstill. The convoys of lorries pounding rocks and cement into the Murum river have been challenged by the ancient inhabitants of these lands.
Systematic Ethnic Genocide
Our leaked copy of the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) shows that the proposals do NOT represent anything like fair compensation for the displaced hunter-gatherer communities who have lived in the Murum territories for generations and who have lost their jungles and livelihoods to logging, oil palm and soon floodwaters.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IMG_3629-3-300x225.jpg (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IMG_3629-3.jpg)“For the sake of our livelihoods, land, forests and heritage we demand our rights”!
Under the RAP the Penan are due to be removed into isolated, inadequate locations on the fringes of oil palm plantations, where they have little hope of survival from farming.
Just as disgracefully the proposed level of compensation consists of a monthly allowance which falls far below poverty levels even in Sarawak!
This state assistance of just RM500 per family will run out after just 4 years!
One Sarawak academic expert, who declined to be named, told Sarawak Report after reading through the leaked document:
“This Resettlement Plan amounts to a total and deliberate genocide of the Western Penan. The only way that individuals can hope to survive this treatment is to make their way to the outskirts of towns like Miri and live off the rubbish heaps. The effect will be the total obliteration of these people and their cultural heritage, along with their environment. Their communities will be wiped out. It seems that this is what Taib wants so that people do not stand in the way of his plans to destroy the jungle and ‘develop’ the state”
Sham exercise! – We release the documents
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IMG_3724-1-300x225.jpg (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IMG_3724-1.jpg)Desperate – Penan families are camping by the roadside in their campaign for survival
Despite its destructive impact, the 168 page Resettlement Action Plan document, which was drawn up for the State Government by the local company Chemsain Konsultant Sdn Bhd, attempts to assume the language of legitimacy and to acknowledge international protocols.
This is presumably in order to give the impression that proper consultation has taken place and legitimate compensation has been proposed.
However, in practice it clear to see that this exercise is a sham. The angry reaction of the affected Penan has shown why
Because, despite the many promises in the report, there has been no disclosure, no consultation, no training and advice, no schools, no medical care, no maternity care, no improvement of living standards and no compensation or alternative sources of income for the Penan:
“They told me the dam is almost complete and they are in the dark about what is to happen to them. They don’t know what is going on and are just waiting for the water to flood them” explained an observer who travelled to the area for Sarawak Report this week.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Murum-blockade-4-600x450.jpg (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Murum-blockade-4.jpg)Left on the sidelines – the lorries represent a billion dollar development programme which has destroyed these people’s lands. They have received nothing so far and stand to gain nothing from the destruction of their hunting grounds and rivers
New ‘farm lands’ already taken for oil palm !
One key weakness in the plans , for example, is the leaked claim that each Penan family will be given a minimum of 14 hectares of farming land in the resettlement area and proper agricultural training to assist them in the transformation from hunter-gatherers into growing their own food:
“The MDHEP reservoir will inundate virtually all the community agriculture land…Thus, it is estimated that a household requires at least 14 hectares of land for food production and cash crop planting, with 6-8 hectares of land for swidden cultivation of hill rice and the rest for the other crops”.[4.2.4 Resettlement Action Plan - leaked document]
However, maps already show that the poor quality lands that have been chosen for the two so-called resettlement zones of Tengulan and Metalun have already been taken over by oil palm plantations!
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-27-at-21.23.26-600x322.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-27-at-21.23.26.png)These areas are already being logged by companies such as Samling and Shin Yan and the “resettlement areas’ clash with plantation concessions handed out by Taib to various plantation companies!
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-28-at-02.47.30-600x431.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-28-at-02.47.30.png)Classic Sarawak situation – the same land gets handed out to two concerns. Up against the palm plantations will the Penan have any chance of winning?
One community whom officials took up to see the proposed site have refused to be moved there:
“It is just yellow earth and already bulldozed flat by the oil palm people who have started to plant already. How can we live there? We need our jungle. This area is already given to oil palm” they told the Sarawak Report representative this week.
Neither have the claims made in the RAP that each family will be given adequate agricultural training been carried out, despite the fact that the dam, which has been under construction for over 5 years is now on the point of being flooded:
“The say they don’t know what is going on, they don’t know how to plant things, they have had no agricultural training, nothing” says our investigator, “They were only told they have to move up river. They still want to hunt, they have just learnt how to plant rice, but they depend on food from the jungle. They are very angry because the jungle is almost gone”
Compensation of just RM500 per family per month runs out after 4 years!
his state of affairs is worrying enough, however it is the outrageous financial settlement that has most incensed the Penan who have been waiting for years to hear how much value the state will put on the destruction of their hunting grounds, their forest products and their way of life. The Action Plan claims there has been full consultation on this matter:
“The RAP has been prepared in consultation with the communities and with public disclosure of the decisions and agreements reached between the government and affected communities and is consistent with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Handbook on Preparing a Resettlement Action Plan.”[1:2 RAP Leaked RAP Report]
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-27-at-20.42.08-300x225.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-27-at-20.42.08.png)Families try to take refuge from the sun as they camp out on the blockade
Yet our reporter who visited many longhouses found that until he unveiled the plans in the report the Penan had no idea whether they would be compensated or not.
According to the schedule of planned compensation each re-located family will be entitled to just RM850 a month to get them started in their new farming professions.
This is the lowest official poverty threshold for Sarawak, lower even than in mainland Malaysia where the cost of living is less!
However this compensation is scheduled to last just two years as the tribes attempt to start growing their crops on the land they have been allocated (which is already being planted by the oil palm companies who have likewise been allocated the same lands).
After this the state assistance per family will be reduced to a pitiful RM500 per month for a further two years.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-28-at-02.23.43-600x479.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-28-at-02.23.43.png)Bare minimum – miserable compensation levels for families force to uproot their lives and learn to be farmers in the middle of nowhere
After four years of this beggarly income, The Chief Minister of Sarawak (who has made himself Malaysia’s richest man out of razing the jungle belonging to the Penan and other tribes) has decided that the state assistance should cease!
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IMG_3444-1-300x225.jpg (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IMG_3444-1.jpg)Taib’s crony company Shin Yang has been making a fortune logging out the Murum jungle. But while they and the Chief Minister get rich from the ‘progress and development” the Penan have starved.
This desperate situation is one where the indigenous people of this area for generations have been given no alternative and no choice.
This is in spite of claims in the Resettlement Action Plan that the Sarawak Government and Sarawak Energy have abided by all the international protocols and human rights provisions laid out by the United Nations, World Bank and International Finance Corporation Standards.
One of the most damning statements repeated in this RAP report is the admission that:
“During the preparation of this SIA [Social Impact Assessment], no project alternatives were considered because the construction of MDHEP had already commenced at the time of the report writing.” [2.2 Project Alternatives - Murum RAP Report]
Taib’s pernicious strategy of starting the project in complete secrecy, ripping out the jungle and blowing tunnels through mountains without any environmental or social impact assessments, has thus enabled him to avoid the inevitable uproar that would have occurred if he had warned the Penan and the outside world about what he was planning to do.
Now he says there is no alternative for the Penan people. And yet the RAP has dared to claim that the project is being carried out under established, legitimate procedures!
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/RAP-600x594.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/RAP.png)Voluntary?! – The report claims that best practice has been followed in the management of this process, including consultation and disclosure to the communities. Yet this is not true. Worse nothing has been done towards the ‘goals’ on poverty eradication, education, maternal health or anything else. The Penan say they have been left to starve in their dying forests throughout the period of the Murum Dam project so far.
Promises of development versus the reality of poverty and theft
Idealistic statements in the RAP (see above) present positive promises towards the Penan by a generous state in return for the surrender of their forests and way of life. However, our reporter concluded that these gentle people have every good reason for their mistrust the government of Taib Mahmud:
Taib made the same promises of ‘progress and development’ when he first destroyed the forests through logging. However, thirty years later the Penan have seen no benefit at all from the removal of their timber. Indeed, whereas they once had plentiful food and forest products off which to survive, they are now starving with little forest left and with no more fish in the rivers.
It is Taib Mahmud who has reaped the benefit, becoming Malaysia’s richest man thanks to timber kickbacks!
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Penan-home-600x450.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Penan-home.png)Progress and development? This is what logging has done for the Penan
Our reporter collected some statements from the Penan about the problems caused by Taib Mahmud and his logging and oil palm obsessions:
“For years we have asked for schools for our children, but they have sent no teachers.” ”Our women give birth without help and often they or their children die.” “We have no medicine.” ”We find it hard to find food now that the jungle is destroyed”. “Our women used to make baskets and mats to sell, but now there is not rotan to collect, because there is no jungle left. We site idle and we can make no money”
All of these issues are acknowledged in the secret Resettlement Action Plan report, which paints an accurate picture of the desperate plight of the starving Penan. Anyone but perhaps the Chief Minister of Sarawak would be shamed by the desperate livelihoods recorded in the report such as below:
Appendix Seven: day-to-day accounts from a few households:
Household 1: a nuclear family living in an apartment by themselves. The wife was 8 months pregnant at the time; the children were less than 7 years old.
16/10 Sold fruits for MR40. Bought rice, cooking oil, chicken
17/10 Ate rice and cassava leaves. Then made MR20 from selling durian, bought chicken and instant noodles
18/10 Asked for rice and cooking oil from the wife’s sister’s household; ate fish
20/10 Ate rice, fruits, ferns. Asked for salt and ajinomoto (giver unknown)
22/10 Made MR30 from selling parang; ate rice with bought chicken and fish
23/10 Ate rice and cassava leaves, asked for cooking oil from Pengulu Pao
24/10 Drank coffee only
Household 2: young family, the husband actively working for the timber trader. They share an apartment with multiple other households. This was the household most appearing in others’ accounts as a source of food items
16/10 Ate cassava leaves
17/10 Made MR200 from timber; ate rice with bought fish; gave cooking oil to two other households
18/10 Sold durians for MR20; ate rice with bought vegetables
19/10 Ate rice with fish and cassava leaves; gave rice and cooking oil to two other households; then earned MR50 from the timber; bought rice, cooking oil, and fish
20/10 Another household got cassava leaves from them; they were not interviewed.
22/10 Earned MR100 from the timber; ate rice with bought chicken, coffee, and sugar
23/10 Ate rice with fruits, cassava leaves, coffee; two households got cooking oil, salt and ajinomoto from them
24/10 Claimed coffee as their only food for the day; gave coffee and sugar to another household
Household 3: middle-aged couple living with their daughter; shares an apartment with two other households, one of whom is old and the other young.
16/10 Ate cassava leaves (presumably with rice, though not reported so); gave rice to an in-law
17/10 Ate rice, cassava, sago pith; asked Household 2 for cooking oil
18/10 Sold cassava and ferns (undisclosed sums); ate rice with bought chicken and cooking oil
19/10 Sold rambutans for MR30; bought rice, cooking oil, fish.
22/10 Sold durians for MR10; ate rice with bought instant noodles
23/10 Asked for rice from another household; ate that with ferns; gave cooking oil, salt, and/or ajinomoto to three other households
24/10 Ate rice and cassava leaves; asked for coffee and sugar from another household; gave cooking oil to an in-law
Household 4: middle-aged couple with many children. They share an apartment with young children and 4 other households, including the husband’s father.
16/10 Ate rice with ferns
17/10 Made MR20 from selling fish; ate rice mixed with sugar, no vegetables. Later they harvested some cassava and ate that with rice
18/10 Ate rice and cassava leaves
19/10 Ate rice, kangkong, and rambutans. Then sold cocoa pods in Asap, made MR50. Used it to buy chicken and rice
20/10 Ate rice and fish
21/10 Again ate rice and fish.
22/10 Ate rice, bought fish and cooking condiments with the MR30 made from selling durian.
23/10 Made MR20 from selling durian. Ate rice and cassava leaves, and then rice and fish. Got some cooking oil from another household.
24/10 Made MR30 from selling fish. Ate rice and vegetables then got coffee and sugar from Household 2.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IMG_3425-1-300x225.jpg (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IMG_3425-1.jpg)Promises Sarawak-style. BN promised the Penan a new longhouse after a fire. Years later it has never been finished.
The reporter from Sarawak Report who visited these communities this week discovered that they were too impoverished to offer any food to their visitors, who went hungry for 3 days.
The Sarawak Government has made promises to help the Penan as part of the Murum resettlement, however during the 5 years of construction these people have been merely left to slowly starve as their forests have been replaced with oil palm.
What right has Taib Mahmud to expect anyone to trust that he will help them now or help any of the other natives of Sarawak whom he plans to displace through his further dams?
Meanwhile, Sarawak Report demands a response from the State Government of Tasmania, whose former Senior Advisor to the Department of Energy, Nick Wright, is now the Vice-President of Sarawak Energy, in charge of Corporate and Social Responsibility (including Resettlement Plans).
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-28-at-01.44.00-300x115.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Screen-Shot-2012-09-28-at-01.44.00.png)Nick Wright the new Tasmanian SEB Vice-President, in charge of Corporate and Social Responsibility (including resettlement plans), must now accept responsibility for the on-going starvation and distress suffered by the Penan at Murum
Why has their state-owned concern, Hydro-Tasmania, which is now in partnership with SEB (http://www.sarawakreport.org/2012/09/misled-how-hydro-tasmania-played-down-its-essential-role-in-score/)implementing the SCORE dam projects in Sarawak, allowed such a disgraceful neglect of basic standards of consultation, transparency and social and environmental responsibility in its dealings in Sarawak?
Sarawak Reort will shortly be releasing the full Murum Resettlement Action Plan in the interests of proper disclosure, including further exclusive revelations about Taib’s plans for SCORE.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Genocide-600x429.png (http://www.sarawakreport.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Genocide.png)Zunar – Malaysia’s radical cartoonist depicted Taib this week as a man who has become the country’s richest billionaire – resting on the skulls of the people he has exploited
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