Hornbill Unleashed

September 20, 2012

BN ‘will lose Baram seat’ if mega-dam is built

Filed under: Dams,Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , ,

Dukau Papau

The BN risks losing a stronghold – the Baram parliamentary seat in Sarawak – in the next general election if the state government persists with building a mega-dam there.

This is because more than 80 percent of the 21,716 voters and their families are claimed to be against the project.

“If the anger of the people can be translated to votes, the BN is certain to face defeat,” said Thomas Jalong (left), the president of Jaringan Orang Asli Semalaysia.

BN’s Baram MP Jacob Sagan Dunggau, a senior vice-president of the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party, has been re-nominated by his party to defend the seat for the fifth time.

NONE

In the 2008 parliamentary election, he won the seat with a majority of 4,044 votes. At that time, the dam had yet to be proposed.

In last year’s state election, BN candidate Dennis Ngau did badly in areas along the upper and middle Baram River because more than 60 percent of the Orang Ulu community voted against him.

NONEHe only won the seat because of strong support from the Iban living along the lower reaches of the river.

“This time (around,) more people are against the BN. The people are angry with the BN government,” said Jalong.

“In Long Anap, where Dunggau (right) and I come from, more than 90 percent of the villagers including his relatives are strongly against the construction of the dam. Our longhouse, church, school and (ancestral) land will be (submerged) by the proposed dam.

“We are not against Dunggau per se. We love him, but our love and concern for the future of our children are greater. If we are removed from our lnad, where would we go?”

azlanJalong was speaking after he and more than 50 indigenous peoples delivered a petition supported by thousands of signatures to the Chief Minister’s Office at the state secretariat building in Kuching yesterday.

The group represents at least 18 longhouses in the upper and middle Baram areas.

Jalong said he views  the planned construction of the dam with great concern, because of its potential adverse implications, particularly on the rights, livelihood and future of the indigenous peoples.

About 20,000 residents would be forced to move away from their ancestral lands, homes and farms in order to accommodate the RM4 billion dam, which will submerge an area the size of Singapore.

“Land is not only regarded as an economic resource but is fundamental to our social, cultural, spiritual and political identity and survival,” Jalong explained.

“No, we do not have any political agenda. Our agenda is to save our people and our land. I was born and bred in my village and I love staying there.”

‘People not consulted’

Echoing these sentiments, Peter Kallang, who heads Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (Save Rivers), reiterated that the majority of the people of Baram do not want the dam.

NONESave Rivers is a coalition formed by indigenous peoples and NGOs to stop 12 proposed  dams in Sarawak.

“If you look at the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Malaysia has agreed to adopt, the plans for constructing the dams have to stop immediately,” said Kallang(right).

“All work on access roads to the dams, including the soil studies, have to be stopped (as well).”

Commenting on the issue, Baram Protection Action Committee head Philip Jau said: “The government has not been transparent at all with the plans for the Baram dam.

“They have not asked the people what they think, but have commenced (work) to start (land) surveys for access roads. We do want development and roads, but we don’t want an access road specifically for the mega-dam.

“When we met with the superintendent of the lands and survey department in Miri, he did not mention the access road or why it is being built.

“This is an example of how they continue not to be transparent with their plans.”

He said he hopes the government will listen to the voices of the Baram residents and stop all construction related to the dam.

“All our protests and signatures are in the petition which we handed to a representative of the chief minister,” he said, expressing disappointment that they were unable to explain their objections personally to Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Copies of the petition will be sent to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, the Human Rights Commission, Sarawak Energy Bhd CEO and contractors involved in the project.

Baram natives: Don’t submerge our homes

A group of some 50 Orang Asal from Baram protested in front of the Sarawak state secretariat building in Kuching yesterday, against a looming mega dam project that will send their longhouses under water.
NONEThe group from 18 longhouses in Upper and Middle Baram also delivered a petition containing more than 1,000 signatures to the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office.The petition expressed opposition to the plan to build a mega dam in Baram that would flood an area half the size of Singapore, putting their ancestral lands, homes and farms under water.In a statement yesterday, Jaringan Orang Asal seMalaysia (Joas) president Thomas Jalong, who is from Long Anap, Baram, said the dam would adversely affect the livelihood of the local indigenous population.

baram sarawak“The dam will inevitably submerge the ancestral homelands of more than 20,000 people and in the process, forcibly displace us from our homes.

“We will also be unjustly deprived of our lands, sources of livelihood and sustenance, and face an uncertain future,” Thomas said.

He added that the land was not a mere economic resource for the Orang Asal community but central to their social, cultural, spiritual and political identity.

NONE12 mega dams planned

Meanwhile, Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (Save Rivers), a coalition formed to oppose 12 mega dams planned for Sarawak, said the protest was called to get the government to abide by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.Save Rivers president Peter Kallang said that the Sarawak government should cease all works on access roads to the dams as this was already adversely affecting the Orang Asal community.

Meanwhile, Baram Protection Action Committee representative Philip Jau noted that even the planning for the Baram dam had not been transparent.

“They have not asked the people what they think about the plan for the dam and instead have commenced surveys for the access road to the project,” Philip said.


The writer, who uses a pseudonym, is based in Sarawak.

Advertisements

3 Comments »

  1. What good are these signatures on a petition? The only thing that will convince them is to vote them out of office where they can’t do any more harm.

    Rock the vote, baby.

    Comment by gopher — September 20, 2012 @ 11:58 AM | Reply

  2. Do not wait for the Baram dam or more dams to be built and more NCR or ancestral lands to be taken away before deciding to kick out the highly arrogant, corrupted, abusive, repressive and oppressive BN government. The regime does not deserve our trust,respect and mandate anymore. We must do what we need to do. Just kick out these crooks and thieves once and for all. Boycott doing business or buying properties built by all the crooks associated with the paramount thief minister , Taib Mahmud.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — September 20, 2012 @ 6:50 AM | Reply

  3. It is high time for Taib and BN to be chased out of Sarawak. These two devils have destroyed my birth country by skullduggery, bribery. land-plundering , corruption, exploitation and ignoring the welfare of my native brothers and sisters. Devils belong to hell!!!

    Comment by Egbert Lau — September 20, 2012 @ 1:55 AM | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: