Hornbill Unleashed

March 16, 2012

6,000 Swiss sign anti-dam petition

Filed under: Dams,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 6:09 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

Joseph Tawie

Malaysia and Swiss activists protested outside the UN office in Geneva against Sarawak’s plan to build 12 hydro-electric dams.

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.

Forced displacement of natives

Earlier today, in Geneva, environmental activists from Switzerland and Malaysia gathered in front of the UN seat at Geneva’s Place des Nations to protest against plans to construct the 12 hydro-electrical dams in Sarawak.

Following the rally they gave the petition bearing 6,000 signatures from Swiss citizens calling for a halt the dam plans.

The Geneva action followed a similar protest held yesterday by indigenous communities in Sarawak to mark the International Action Day for Rivers.

In a press statement, the Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) sharply criticized the lack of transparency of the Malaysian dam plans which will cause the forced displacement of tens of thousands of indigenous people and irreversibly destroy hundreds of square kilometres of tropical forests.

“These dam plans amount to a serious breach of the affected communities’ human rights and would destroy their river-based culture.

“It is shocking to see that corruption and not a true energy demand is the main driver behind these projects,” the BMF statement said.

Malaysia recently completed the 2,400 MW Bakun mega dam, Asia’s largest dam outside China.

The BMF called on the international community to pressure Malaysia to halt all further dam projects on Borneo.


  1. The World Bank estimates that forcible “development-induced displacement and resettlement” now affects 10 million people per year. According to the World Bank an estimated 33 million people have been displaced by development projects such as dams, urban development and irrigation canals in India alone.

    India is well ahead in this respect. A country with as many as over 3600 large dams within its belt can never be the exceptional case regarding displacement. The number of development induced displacement is higher than the conflict induced displacement in India. According to Bogumil Terminski an estimated more than 10 million people have been displaced by development each year.

    Athough the exact number of development-induced displaced people (DIDPs) is difficult to know, estimates are that in the last decade 90–100 million people have been displaced by urban, irrigation and power projects alone, with the number of people displaced by urban development becoming greater than those displaced by large infrastructure projects (such as dams). DIDPs outnumber refugees, with the added problem that their plight is often more concealed.

    This is what experts have termed “development-induced displacement.” According to Michael Cernea, a World Bank analyst, the causes of development-induced displacement include water supply (dams, reservoirs, irrigation); urban infrastructure; transportation (roads, highways, canals); energy (mining, power plants, oil exploration and extraction, pipelines); agricultural expansion; parks and forest reserves; and population redistribution schemes.

    Comment by Jennifer — March 20, 2012 @ 9:01 PM | Reply

  2. According to SEB’s proposal presented by Aziz Hussein in China a couple of years back Sarawak is planning to have NOT 12 but 52 dams projected to a total power of 20,000MW with energy output of 87,000 GWh/year.

    In short all the arable plains in the interior of Sarawak will be submerged in water. Guest what’s that means?

    Comment by Bus Stop — March 17, 2012 @ 12:44 AM | Reply

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