Hornbill Unleashed

February 23, 2012

Progress and Development?

Sarawak Report

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.

Devastating 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.

Bakun – 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.

Cheap electricity

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.


  1. http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4259&Itemid=229

    The Rape of Sarawak

    A Netherlands-based environmental organization, Wetlands International, is charging in a new report that Malaysia is destroying its tropical rainforest at a rate three times faster than the rest of Asia combined, particularly in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak, with the expectation that “expansion of oil palm plantations may lead to the complete loss of these vast, unique forests by the end of this decade.”

    Sarawak’s chief minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, has come in for international criticism on charges that he has sold off vast tracts of the state to international loggers to enrich his family. The Taib family has interests believed to be in the billions in Canada, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom as well as in scores of companies in Malaysia, according to The Sarawak Report, a UK-based NGO.

    Malaysia has been largely shielded from criticism by the world’s environmental organizations, who have concentrated their firepower on Indonesia. However according to the report, “Official government figures state that only 8 to -13 percent of Malaysia’s palm oil plantations were situated on carbon rich peat soils; 20 percent for Sarawak. Two studies; one conducted by global environmental organization Wetlands International and one by the remote sensing institute Sarvision show that a rapidly increasing proportion of Malaysian palm oil is produced on peat lands, leading to deforestation and degradation of organic soils. Wetlands International and Sarvision used satellite images combined with existing data and field surveys to complete the picture.

    The new studies conclude that 20 percent of all Malaysian palm oil is produced on drained peat lands, with 44 percent produced on drained peat lands in Sarawak. “For recently established plantations, the percentage on forested peat swamps is even higher. “

    According to the Wetlands International report, Malaysia is responsible for 45 percent of global palm oil production. The new plantations in Malaysia are almost all established in the State of Sarawak, the report indicated. Two thirds of the state’s peat lands were until recently covered by thick, biodiversity-rich rainforest.

    “Between 2005-2010 almost 353,000 hectares of the 1 million hectare peat swamp forests were opened up at high speed; largely for palm oil production,” the report notes. “In just five years’ time, almost 10 percent of all Sarawak’s forests and 33 percent of the peat swamp forests have been cleared. Of this, 65 percent was for conversion to palm oil production.”

    Marcel Silvius, the program head of Wetlands International, said that as the rainforest has fallen to the axe for timber extraction, the timber companies are replanting the area with oil palm, “completing the annihilation of Sarawak’s peat swamp forests.”

    Malaysia has never provided verifiable information on land use in relation to soil type or deforestation, the report notes.

    Niels Wielaard of Sarvision said the new report “is the first time that detailed and verified figures on deforestation and peat swamp conversion have come available for Sarawak. Free availability of satellite imagery and tools such as Google Earth are revolutionizing forest monitoring.”

    Loss of unique species

    Malaysia’s peat swamp forests, the report notes, are home to many endangered and endemic species and subspecies including enigmatic species such as the Borneo Pygmy elephant, the Sumatran Rhino, the Bornean Clouded Leopard, the Malayan Tapir and the Proboscis Monkey as well as lesser known endangered species such as the Storm’s Stork, False Gharial and the Painted terrapin

    “The peat swamp forests of north Borneo represent a unique vegetation type characterized by the Alan tree as well as the valuable but endangered timber species,” the report notes. “This forest type has been wiped out in Sarawak and the only remaining examples now remain in Brunei. The peat swamp forests have not been intensively studied, and many undiscovered species are feared to have been lost.

    Malaysia’s original peat land forests totaled some 2.5 million ha. Conversion and drainage of these natural carbon stores has causes rapid decomposition and subsidence of the organic soil leading to huge carbon dioxide emissions, lasting for decades, the report notes.

    “Very cautious and conservative estimates put greenhouse gas emissions from palm oil plantations on peat at 40 metric tons of CO2 per hectare per year, the report says. “Using this very conservative estimation, the 510,000 ha of peat lands in Malaysia drained for palm oil production thus cause the release of some 20 million tons of/CO2 annually. However, twice this amount is more likely.

    The rapid expansion of oil palm plantations is a result of the global increase in demand for vegetable oil for food and for a large part also for biofuels.

    “European targets to increase the use of biodiesel are causing a rapid increase of the global demands for vegetable oil crops. This growth in demand leads to a massive (indirect) land use change; especially in Southeast Asia, including in carbon rich peat swamp forests. The conversion of these areas increases greenhouse gas emissions and thus fuels climate change. Biodiesel use that does not prevent these indirect land use impacts is far from sustainable and may cause much larger emissions than the use of fossil fuel diesels.”

    Call for action

    “The production of palm oil is welcome only if expansion can be done in a sustainable way. Wetlands International calls for a complete ban of palm oil production on peat lands and for a halt on further conversion of natural areas for this crop. Instead development should focus on the millions of hectares of degraded (non-peat) areas in South-east Asia. Companies that use palm oil should demand for this. In addition, Wetlands International calls for an end to incentives for biofuels in the EU that result in direct and indirect land use change like we now see in Malaysia.”

    See Also:


    Comment by anon — February 24, 2012 @ 9:00 AM | Reply


      Comment by anon — February 24, 2012 @ 9:04 AM | Reply


    “…….what many are saying that 48 years are more than enough to prove we gained NOTHING from being part of Malaysia.

    It is not just our Sarawak but also Sabah. We share almost the same problems of plunder and corruption!

    The question is not how much we can extract from the Fed Gov’t for “development” etc.

    This question is misleading because since both Sabah and Sarawak have so much rich resources- they could independently fund all their development from the beginning.

    This then begs the big question: If so why are we wasting time in a failed (shot gun) “union”.

    If we can independently fund our development we can be independent! We don’t need Malaysia for one precious moment!

    We don’t deserve to be duped for so long!

    There is no doubt what so ever that Sabah or Sarawak can stand alone.

    When they become independent of Malayan rule, they will be able to do so much for their own people.

    At present we are just colonies.

    Aki Jugah is now being quoted for his wise statement of over 48 years ago but we would have been better off if we listened then. We are now just eating the (raw) bitter end of the sugar cane! We got shafted!

    Sarawakians and Dayak brothers and sisters be no longer fooled to remain in Malaysia!

    Life was better before 1963- Now we have no land no trees or rivers and all our back up systems provided by Mother nature. We are reduced to poverty stricken broken up communities kept down as beggars begging for development!

    We can get out and be our own masters. Dayaks will never fulfill their Dayak nation until they get out of in Malaysia! There is no future in staying!

    Hidup Sarawak Independence.

    From a comment by Angry Dayak in Dayakbaru.com

    Comment by anon — February 24, 2012 @ 8:22 AM | Reply

  3. Evil person sees everything evil


    Comment by Peter J — February 23, 2012 @ 3:31 PM | Reply

  4. All the DAYAK YBs and new candidates n PBB, PRS, SPDP and SUPP must be defeated in GE13. They had sold themselves to the paramount thief minister, Taib Mahmud, at the drop of 10 cent coin, so that they themselves can live in comfort and their children married to the white because the “white” man countries are where they hid their ill gotten wealth.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — February 23, 2012 @ 3:08 PM | Reply

    • Alfred Jabu, William Mawan and James Masing…please step forward to face your own community and deny all the allegations made against Taib Mahmud and that you guys have a hand in every crimes committed by the thief minister.

      Comment by Irene Kana — February 23, 2012 @ 10:38 PM | Reply

  5. Masing pleads ‘not guilty’ over indigenous displacement
    Malaysia Kini, Mar 21, 2009

    Sarawak Land Development Minister James Masing told a tv news channel that he has absolutely no guilt over the displacement of indigenous people caused by the construction of hydro-electric dams in the state.

    “I don’t feel guilty. I feel that is the correct way of doing it. I don’t have any guilt feeling for trying to help my people,” said Masing on the Al-Jazeera’s 101 East programme Thursday night.

    Host Fauziah Ibrahim had asked Masing if he felt guilty, as a person of indigenous descent, over indigenous people being displaced to make way for economic development.

    During the programme, Masing defended the construction of dams, such as the massive Bakun hydroelectric dam and the proposal to build 12 new ones, because the state government was preparing for the future .

    “Sarawak has enough energy as it is today. But we must look 20 years down the road. By that time we may not have enough energy. You know very well the cost of fuel (is escalating),” he said.

    Masing defends CM

    Masing also defended the involvement of Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS), a company owned by family members of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud in the construction of the dams.

    “The dam constructions are done to legal tenders. The lowest tender gets it. It doesn’t matter if CMS or somebody else. It must be done on tender basis.

    “That is very transparent. The international community can take a look at it… it is an open book for everyone to look,” he said.

    When Fuziah pointed out that there are numerous cases in which projects were given to companies linked to Taib without open tenders, Masing said: “I was not aware of it”.

    Fuziah replied by that the Similajau aluminum smelting plant was given to CMS while the construction of several bridges were awarded to Titanium Management Sdn Bhd, which Taib’s eldest son Mahmud Abu Bekir holds substantial interest in.

    ‘Everything was transparent’

    Even with evidence presented before him, Masing maintained that these awards were given fairly and in accordance with the law.

    “We have rules and laws… If there is a decision made by people who have vested interest, there are laws which does not allow it. It is illegal for people in authority to give authority with vested interest.

    “All these things have been done through open tenders. They are transparent,” he said.

    “In the case of the aluminum smelter, there were a few companies that were asked to bid for it. I know. And the best company gets it.

    “Unfortunately, it was given to a company where the authority has some interest. But it is done legally,” he added.

    ‘I’m a friend of the chief minister’

    Meanwhile, Fuziah also scrutinised Masing over his links to Taib. Masing admitted that he was an “ally” to Taib, but gave a less outright answer when asked if he was Taib’s “crony”.

    “I don’t think (so). Crony means friends. I am a friend of the chief minister,” he said.

    On whether there was “crony capitalism” going on in Sarawak, Masing replied in the negative because no one has been brought to book over such matters.

    “I don’t think so. If there is, those who deal in it would be dealt by the law. Until today, there is nothing. One must assume there is no cronyism as such,” he said.

    On who would keep the chief minister and his family accountable, Masing said the electorate would.

    “I believe the voters in Sarawak are a very intelligent group of people,” he added.

    Comment by Kamus — February 23, 2012 @ 1:18 PM | Reply

  6. Taib could not build dams without the 101% support of the serving ADUN members and the community leaders.The ordinary NGOs and voters may cry,shout their lungs out to oppose the constructions of more dams but ultimately Taib will win….and those who are opposing it now may just throw down their towels and seal their mouths when there is enough “offers” laid on the table ha ha ha!

    Comment by Mandela — February 23, 2012 @ 10:10 AM | Reply

    • Sadly bro, you are right. You have a point.

      There are even people who opposes taib and his henchmen but their acts are not sincere. The moment offers are given, they will take it without hesitation.

      Only a few will go all out and suffer along the way.

      Comment by mike — February 23, 2012 @ 4:50 PM | Reply

      • brother Mike..This has been the culture of those who have been “hypocritically” opposing bro.Taib ….pretend to bark and bark to get their shares of the loots..The louder they bark (not genuine bark actually) the bigger piece of meat they might receive….this has been the way for the last 32 years……only opportunists….sad to say. You mark my words…this will happen regarding the damned dams…opposition will just fade away into thin air when the heat is on.
        $$$$$$$$$ is the root of all evils!!

        Comment by Mandela — February 23, 2012 @ 5:13 PM | Reply

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