Hornbill Unleashed

March 27, 2009

Damn the Dams — They only make the First Family richer!!

By Apang

Batang Ai is more often than not associated with the hydro electric dam that supplies electricity to other places outside of Batang Ai, such as Kuching. The Sarawak Chief Minister of donkey number of years had just confirmed in public that there will be 12 more dams in Sarawak.

n_01sarawakdams1Same old developmental arguments are used. The dam projects will benefit the people of the area and of course of the state’s economy as well blah blah blah. Of course what is not mentioned in the public domain is the development of the personal wealth of family members and cronies.

The Stark reality in Batang Ai

In Batang Ai, while the resettled settlements have electricity, others upriver who are so near but are still so far from the electric supply generated in their own backyard. The mighty hydroelectric dam at Batang Ai (the first in Sarawak) has transmission line to wire the power to as far as Kuching some 300 kilometers away but those poor communities within the Batang Ai area upriver from the dam still live in the pitch darkness of socio-economic backwardness.

Those parroting the CM’s Politics of Development would say that the Batang Ai Dam would benefit the Batang Ai people when it was proposed. Two decades after the completion of the dam, there are still those Batang Ai Ibans still living in poverty, without basic amenities like electricity, clean water, roads, and a hospital!

The murky Bakun story

The Bakun Dam was meant to bring development benefits to the people of Bakun and the state. Well-connected companies were rushing to whack the remaining timber before it was submerged by water. Then there was also the well-connected company, Ekran Berhad who did the initial dam works, before public funds came in the form of compensation and the change in the builder.

The some 10,000 people were resettled to Sungai Asap to make way for the Bakun Dam. They were promised a better life after resettlement. To-day, their miseries stand testimonies to the kind of development that victimizes rather than benefits the local people.

To-day, the resettled Bakun people at Sungei Asap regret having to lose their original NCR land for a sum of cash compensation which soon disappeared. Without their ancestral land, they are struggling to survive.

They do enjoy water and electricity, for which they have to pay in cash. Recently, the authorities have threatened to cut off their utilities unless they pay up. This is the heavy price they have to pay for their promised “progress”.

Same over at Murum Dam

The same pathetic fate awaits the indigenous communities to be affected by the construction of the proposed RM3 billion Murum Dam, especially the Penans there.

The White Hair Rajah of Sarawak had confirmed in public that the once secret list of 12 dams will all be constructed, at Kapit, Baleh and Baram, and elsewhere.

Who benefits? Trace the extended family!

What is not announced is that Sarawak Energy Berhad is the sole “developer” but not the actual dam builder. SEB is fully in the hands of Taib Mahmud’s family members. The Chairman is Abdul Hamed Sepawi, a first cousin to the CM, who also heads Ta Ann Holdings Berhad (involved in logging and plantations) and Naim Cendera Holdings Berhad (involved in properties and construction). Brother-in-law and former State Seretary Abdul Aziz is group managing director and chief executive officer of SEB. As Aziz confirmed in the recent Al Jazeera’s interviewit sure is an advantage to be well connected to the CM of Sarawak when you do big business in the state.

Big dams are now the last big business to be monopolised by “The First Family” of Sarawak.

That is how big money is made in Sarawak: the Bengoh story

The Bengoh Water Reservoir Dam, an hour’s drive from Kuching has already began construction since late 2008. The construction contract was awarded, without tender to Naim Cendera for about RM310,650,000 to be exact. The company then sub contracted it out to the dam builder from Mainland China, Sinohydro for RM145 million. Sinohydro is finishing the infamous Bakun Dam. See how easy it is to make big money in Sarawak when you are well connected?

Four Bidayuh villagers with hundreds of years of history and ancestral land must give way for the project. The Sarawak Government is in the process of acquiring NCR lands belonging to other 20 Bidayuh villages in Semadang-Bau areas for this sort of twisted “development”.

It seems every time there is a mega development project, the wealth of the elites in Sarawak politics will be vastly developed, while the rural people would lose their land upon which they depend for their survival.

Many more dams are on the cards. There is an abundance of BN stooges drumming support for dam projects.  The most recent voice is from Telang Usan assemblyman Lihan Jok, who showed his own ignorance by describing dams as “god-sent”. Is he suggesting that White Hair Rajah is God? God may not take kindly to this sort of desecration of His divine name.

Who is fighting in Batang Ai?

batang-aiBatang Ai by-election will not be merely about Jawa of PKR or Malcolm of BN. It is a battle beyond PKR and BN. It is a battle between the people of Sarawak against all the bad things that we have known for 45 years about the same old Barisan Nasional, their greed, their self-enrichment, their racial tactic of divide and rule, and their rape of our natural wealth in the false name of development.

Batang Ai voters now and Sarawak voters in the next election must choose between small people or big and well-connected businesses, freedom or virtual political slavery, a change for a brighter future or more of the same.

To you the Batang Ai voters, you have seen and heard about the lies of “development’ for three decades. You have suffered from the construction of the Batang Ai Dam.

The Batang Ai by-election is a chance for you to say to BN: no more lies! Vote for PKR and Jawa Garang for change!

Agi Idup, agi ngeleban!

Anak Sarawak, Bangsa Malaysia!






  1. […] Sarawak” by SKY “Full Recognition for Native Customary Rights now!” By See Chee How  and “Damn the dams: they only make the First Family richer” by […]

    Pingback by What Difference Can a Year Make? « Hornbill Unleashed — January 4, 2010 @ 12:02 AM | Reply

  2. […] – like the Bengoh Dam project. In “Damn the Dams” on Hornbill Unleashed, under the section “That is how big money is made in Sarawak: the Bengoh story”, there is news of plenty of price inflation indeed, benefitting a super-well-connected […]

    Pingback by Mother Nature, Human Nature and Politics « Hornbill Unleashed — August 11, 2009 @ 12:02 AM | Reply

  3. Nemu meh org swak. The BIG Q..nama Taib menang belama deh..and now the ANAK pun menang..heran2..

    Comment by Guest — April 2, 2009 @ 12:04 PM | Reply

  4. Its just development for politicians. The bloody jerks curi aje!

    In time we’ll be making similar mistakes, squander wealth from our natural resources and screw up our lives with overhyped development crap.

    A lot of rethinking needs to be done. And the PR government must need to avoid the same pitfalls or we’ll drown ourselves with the same problem.

    Power can be unholy and like wealth there is always an systemic ecology imbalance in instituions that have been raped. I don’t see anything wrong with, for instance, redistributing resource allocation and institutional functions if the Lubuk Antu or Sri Aman Council be made owners of the bloody dam. OK, so the State needs some oversight, let’s get it involved.

    BUt that’s another story. Right now we have to win that election!

    Comment by Salak — March 28, 2009 @ 8:29 AM | Reply

  5. “Politics of developing personal bank account”.

    Comment by juni — March 27, 2009 @ 4:47 PM | Reply

  6. Welcome home SKY. Time for sarawakians to stand up. Dayaks, Chinese, Malays, Eurasians…so long you are Sarawakians. Let us show that we are proud of our state. We can bring the changes. Friends from Malaya can help us…but eventually it is sarawakians who vote. Enough is enough. Why wait. Just change

    Comment by Anthony Dylan — March 27, 2009 @ 11:54 AM | Reply

    • Dear Anthony Dylon,

      It’s nice to be back to Sarawak — even on the Internet. I should have set up this blog long ago.

      We have a decent team here. We are many, but unlike the Legion in the Buble, we are the god-fearing legion to haunt the real devels across the river.


      Comment by sky — March 28, 2009 @ 2:52 PM | Reply

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