Posts Tagged ‘Dams


Murum Dam: Listen to the Penans

The Penan communities affected by the Murum Dam have shown a commitment to defend their rights and Malaysians must give them full support.


By Kua Kia Soong

The Penans have been blockading against the construction of the 944MW Murum Dam since Sept 26, 2012. More than 1,600 Penans from eight Penan villages (including one Kenyah Badeng longhouse) are affected by the construction of the dam which is now about 70% completed.

Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), contractors and private companies involved in the project have been forced to use ferryboats or tugboats through the Bakun Dam reservoir to transport goods, machines, building materials etc. to the Murum Dam site.

This is a new and different factor compared to the campaign against the Bakun dam in previous years.

While we had built a campaign against the Bakun Dam in the past, there was no action by the indigenous peoples affected on a scale comparable to the Murum Dam blockade.

The Penan communities affected by the Murum Dam have shown a commitment to defend their rights and Malaysians must give them full solidarity and support their struggle in all possible ways.

The Murum Penan communities are among the poorest in Malaysia. They have traditionally been hunter-gatherers but shifted to a more settled, agriculture-based way of life approximately 40 years ago.

They rely on subsistence-based farming and hunting, fishing and gathering of forest products and the occasional sale of in-season fruit. Their livelihood has been adversely affected by low farm productivity and rapidly declining forest resources because of plantation and dam building projects.

The Bakun Dam fiasco

The Sarawak state government with federal government support, has been carrying out highly irresponsible economic projects to the detriment of the environment, the indigenous peoples’ lives and the long-term interest of the Sarawak and Malaysian tax payers.

The 2,400MW Bakun Dam project has already proven to be a major fiasco not only in terms of insufficient demand for its electricity generated but a disaster for the 10,000 indigenous peoples who were displaced from their traditional ancestral land to the slum conditions of the resettlement scheme at Sg. Asap.

Those who cherish their heritage and human rights would describe their fate as ethnocide if they have seen for themselves the conditions at Sg. Asap.

The total energy demand in the whole of Sarawak is only 1,000MW so the government has been trying to attract the biggest energy guzzlers such as aluminium smelters which happen to be the most toxic as well.

Another investment is a coal-fired power station to take up the excess energy. These environmentally polluting industries are then touted as part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score).

In fact, hydro-electric power dams and toxic aluminium smelters are all industries rejected by the developed countries.

None of these countries, especially Australia, wants to have toxic industries in their own backyard. But the Sarawak state government is willing to have these mega projects for rather dubious purposes.

The desperate chase for investments to take up the excess Bakun energy after the dam has been built shows a total lack of economic feasibility studies which should have been done before the dam was built.

Is it surprising therefore that many Score contracts have been given to companies owned by members of Chief Minister Taib’s family?

As if this Bakun Dam fiasco was not enough, the Sarawak state government intends to build 12 mega dams in all which will strip the state of its rainforest and displace even more indigenous communities.

Murum Dam: Listen to the Penans
October 31, 2012 – FMT


Review dam projects, DAP urges Sarawak gov’t

Sarawak DAP today called on the government to review its plans to build 13 dams in Sarawak following the failure of high-tech industries in the Samajaya industrial zone in Kuching.

“The state government should review its plan not for environmental reasons nor for the settlement of the indigenous people, but for economic reasons,” said Sarawak DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen.

“The dam industry may look good on our gross domestic product (GDP), but too much concentration on it is very dangerous to our economic development,” he said.

“What the government is doing now is putting all the eggs in one basket, that is, putting RM15 billion into the dam projects in order to generate electricity which is to be sold to smelting plants,” he said.

Chong (left), who is the MP for Bandar Kuching and assemblyperson for Kota Sentosa, was commenting on reports that the Sanmina-SCI Corporation at Samajaya, Kuching was closing down.
Scores of workers have been retrenched while those who remain are now given three days a week to work.

“Up to now Sanmina has been one of the successful companies in Samajaya. There are not many companies there, despite the fact that the government had spent billions of ringgit to develop Samajaya.

“If you go to Samajaya now, you can hardly see many factories. All in all, the Samajaya project is a failure.

“The largest failure is First Silicon which alone has caused the government to lose an estimated RM3 billion,” he said.

Chong, who has an economics degree as well as a law degree, said: “This is an example whereby the policy planners did not capitalise on the strengths of our economy but are venturing into some high-tech industries which we are incapable of managing.

“High-tech is not that simple because at the end of the day we will flop. But one of the justifications is that we created jobs for the local people.

“Learning from this failure, I urge the government to review its plans for energy-intensive industry development policy, that is, building dams.

“Why I call for that is mainly because what the government is doing now is concentrating its efforts on building more dams and selling the energy to smelting plants.

Review dam projects, DAP urges Sarawak gov’t
Dukau Papau
Oct 29, 2012 – Malaysiakini


12 dams and more for Sarawak? Madness


‘Dams built to keep Taib’s CMS in business’

The opposition in Sarawak wants to know if social impact studies were or are being done on the proposed dams.

KUCHING: The opposition here claim that the real reason the state government is constructing 12 hydro-electric dams in Sarawak is to ensure a ‘guaranteed business’ for Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS), a company owned by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s family members.

Making this allegation, Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen said: “I think the whole thing about the state government going on foolhardily on these dam construction is to give a guaranteed business to CMS which is owned by Taib’s family members.

“These dam projects will need a lot of cement and building materials from CMS.”

“The second reason is that under the pretext of constructing the dams, they can go on uninhibited logging activities.

“Those are the real reasons for this foolhardiness,” he added.

Chong said CMS has since its inception in 1974 evolved from being a single product manufacturer of cement in Sarawak to a conglomerate with 40 companies under its wings.

The CMS conglomerate with more than 2,000 employees is involved in cement manufacturing, construction materials, trading, construction, road maintenance, property development, financial services, education and other services.

Chong was commenting on remarks made by the Barisan Nasional MP for Kapit, Alex Nanta Linggi in parliament.

Nanta had bemoaned that nothing had been done to help the people in and around the dams.

He said that the dams would bring billions of ringgit to the nation, state and the contractors at the expense of the local people.

Nanta had suggested that 5% of the funds that had been allocated to the construction of these dams should be channeled to help alleviate the miseries of the people who live within the vicinity of the dams.

Chong, who is Sarawak DAP secretary, agreed with Nantha.

“I fully agree with his statement. I was in Parliament and read the statement. Although the dams can generate three times electricity consumption of Sarawak, yet the villagers beside the dams have no electricity.

“That is the irony,” Chong said.

‘Dams built to keep Taib’s CMS in business’
March 26, 2012 – FMT


6,000 Swiss sign anti-dam petition

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian has thrown his support behind a global effort by environmental activists from Switzerland and Malaysia to protest to the United Nations against the Sarawak government’s plans to construct 12 hydro-electric dams.

Bian, who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman, was responding to the efforts of activists to handover a petition bearing 6,000 signatures to the Malaysian representative to the United Nations. The petition called for a halt to the dam plans.

Thanking the Swiss people for their support, Bian said: “We give 100% support to the efforts of both the international environmental activists and their Malaysian counter-parts to pressure the state government of Sarawak and Malaysia to halt the dam construction.

“The Pakatan Rakyat’s policy is to condemn the 12 dams construction. The Bakun dam itself is already enough as it has destroyed thousands of acres of native customary rights land, displaced thousands of native people and their homes.

“Therefore, any action or plan trying to stop the dam construction, we will give 100% support,” he said, pointing out that he would institute a legal action against the government for the construction of dams in Lawas and Limbang.

“I have been advised by the people to take legal action against the government over the two dams,” he added.

6,000 Swiss sign anti-dam petition
March 16, 2012 – FMT


New dams in Sarawak unjustifiable and irrational

The principles in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, which require governments to, inter alia, obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous people before implementing development projects and programmes within or over their territory. We have noted that these principles have not been complied with by the Sarawak Government and the SEB in the case of the controversial Murum Dam, now under construction, and the proposed Baram Dam.

Informal briefing sessions for a few selected community leaders and individuals, carried out by the Sarawak Government and SEB in the case of the Murum Dam and recently in Miri for the Baram Dam, cannot be considered as “free, prior and informed consent” of or by the affected indigenous population in Murum and Baram. Those attending were merely individuals who were not authorised by all the residents of their respective longhouses to speak or decide for them.

There is no need to build these 12 new dams, including the hugely unpopular Baram Dam, in Sarawak. To do so would result in Sarawak registering a huge surplus of energy of more than 600 per cent.

Even the federal Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin has recently stated that “Sarawak is going to have a surplus power for a long time once the Bakun Dam goes on line”.

The building of these 12 new dams would also adversely affects Sarawak’s financial standing in the future. At the current rate, each of these dams costs at least RM3bn to build and the 12 would cost the state at least RM36bn, excluding the usual huge cost overruns typical of such projects.

Further, all the problems caused by the Batang Ai Dam have not yet been resolved, and the problems faced by the displaced communities in Bakum and Murum are mounting by the day. Under the circumstances, it is therefore utterly unjustifiable and totally irrational for the Sarawak state government to keep building more dams throughout the state.

For the above reasons, we wish to hereby state that we strongly oppose the construction of the highly controversial Baram Dam and all the other proposed 10 dams and we call upon the Sarawak state government to stop its plan to build the dams.

Continue reading ‘New dams in Sarawak unjustifiable and irrational’


More Dams in Sarawak? (Sarawak elections)

Plans to build 12 new dams in Sarawak, allegedly to meet power demands for decades to come, have recently been uncovered despite the fact that the state has 20 percent more capacity than it needs now – before the controversial Bakun Dam comes online in 2011, bringing with it even more overcapacity.

When news of the projects became public, environmentalists were up in arms. The two existing dams in Sarawak, Batang Ai Dam completed and Bakun Dam nearing completion, were accompanied by a range of widely publicized socio-economic and environmental repercussions worrying enough for the anti-dam faction to exhibit public outrage.

Environmentalists have also repeatedly highlighted that the construction of the Bakun dam was due to vested political interests and grandiose plans of the then-prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad and Chief Minister of Sarawak Taib Mahmud. In 1994, the contract was awarded by the Sarawak government without tender to Ekran Berhad, a construction company owned by Ting Pek Khiing, a close ally to both leaders. Ting himself was a timber businessman, with no experience in dam construction. Subsequently, the project was shelved because of the financial crisis and Ekran’s problems with its contractors.

The state cites rising fossil fuel prices which make energy sources generated from dams economically more viable. But for Sarawak, supplying energy from Bakun to the peninsula may not be viable as estimates have put the costs to as high as 30 sen (US 9 cents) per kilowatt hour if the undersea cable is completed. Currently, Tenaga only pays RM 17 sen for each kilowatt of energy. Furthermore, Sarawak already currently has 20 percent overcapacity in its electricity supplies (it has 900 MW but only consumes 700 MW excluding the 2400 MW energy that will be supplied when the Bakun dam is completed). And Peninsula Malaysia has about 30 percent overcapacity in its present energy demands.

So where does this lead to? Should the state government carry on as usual and go about constructing the new dams in spite of concerns expressed by environmentalists?

Continue reading ‘More Dams in Sarawak? (Sarawak elections)’

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for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
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when the government
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