Hornbill Unleashed

October 24, 2012

Police Claim Humanitarian Aid For Murum Is “Incitement” As Fears Grow Of Crackdown

Sarawak Report

The Penan are holding out on their blockade into its 4th week. They need food.

Police numbers are being increased around the Penan blockade at the Murum Dam. Yesterday, they announced that they had detained an NGO sympathiser, who was bringing food and declared that this humanitarian act was ‘incitement’.

“It is not wrong if he had sent the items to the Penans at their longhouse”, stated the local police commander.  This was possibly in recognition that the Penan have received no government support since their hunting grounds were logged in preparation for the dam and that half of their children are officiallymalnourished.

However, the officer claimed it was illegal to supply the protestors with something to eat directly.

Fears are now growing that there will be a crackdown on the blockaders, who are fighting for their human and indigenous rights, which are established under UN treaties signed by Malaysia.

The 8 villages launched the blockade when they learnt details of the leaked Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) for their community.  This plan had been kept secret during the 5 years of construction of the dam, despite the international protocols which say indigenous people should be kept fully informed and be in agreement with proposals affecting their future.

Reported in Norway – the press in Norway has questioned why Norwegian national Torstein Sjotveit is acting as CEO of Sarawak Energy amidst concerns about human rights and corruption

The RAP provides for compensation payments well below the poverty index for each family and for just four years only. The resettlement lands are also plainly insufficient.

As a result the Penan immediately set up their blockade and laid out their own demands.  These include RM500,000 for each family, equity in the dam and a larger and more favourable resettlement site that is not already designated to oil palm concessions.

At first BN announced that the issue had been settled.  The assemblyman for the area, Liwan Lagang, had not bothered to undertake the hard journey to the region himself to find out the actual situation on the ground.

Now that it is clear that the blockade has not been dismantled, Lagang and other BN ministers have started complaining that the Penan must be responding to “incitement”, on the basis presumably that these people are unable to think for themselves.

To the contrary, the Penan are doing what anyone would do in their circumstances. They are fighting for survival.

For years, they say, they were given confusing promises and assurances about what might be done for them, but in fact they were kept totally in the dark about BN’s actual resettlement plans.

Victims of previous dam resettlements, such as the Ibans of Batang Ai and the peoples of Bakun know only too well how false promises from BN have disappeared into thin air.  The Penan of Murum now found out the same and the tens of thousands of people, who will soon be displaced by Baram, Baleh and all the 12 other planned dams, should take careful note of the tactics in store for them also.

Corruption and make-believe ?

Under Norwegian law any national caught up in corruption anywhere in the world can be prosecuted in Norway – watch out Torstein!

In a Question & Answer document released to NGOs this week Sarawak Energy’s millionaire Chief Executive, Noway’s Torstein Sjotveit, has countered that the Penan have been fully consulted and came to an agreement on their compensation.

We therefore ask why there have been no signed documents in the Penan language to prove such a thing and why all the Penan are still saying that they were confused rather than consulted during visits by his executives and that promises were made that do not appear in the resettlement plan?

And if the Penan are so happy with the miserable settlement offered by the Government, why was it kept secret and why are they protesting now they have seen it?

Torstein Sjotveit’s claims are now being analysed by NGOs who are testing them against international protocols.  Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of Sarawak Energy has appeared in his own Newspapers in Norway concerning corruption claims.

The Penan are holding out on their blockade into its 4th week. They need food.

The Newspaper Dagbladet reported on Saturday that that the Bruno Manser Fund has lodged a corruption complaint in Norway against Torstein Dale Sjøtveit, the CEO of Sarawak Energy Bhd, with Norway’s anti-graft watchdog, Økokrim, over irregularities related to the so-called “Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy” (SCORE).

“in November 2010, Sarawak Energy Bhd under its CEO Sjøtveit granted power transmission line contracts over MYR 99 mio. (USD 31.8 mio.) to Universal Cable, a company whose key shareholder is Abu Bekir Taib, the son of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud. Also in 2010, Sarawak Energy sold parts of its profitable manufacturing subsidiary, Sawarja Timur, to Universal Cable.

 Furthermore, in January 2012, three Malaysian banks issued Islamic bonds worth MYR 2.5 billion (USD 803 mio.) on behalf of Sarawak Energy. One of these banks was Kenanga Investment bank, a subsidiary of K&N Kenanga Holdings, which is a joint venture between the Taib family and Deutsche Bank.”[Bruno Manser Fund statement]

Mr Sjotveit, who earns a multi-million dollar salary, has responded that all Sarawak Energy contracts are con

Right to protest – these people say they have been misled.

ducted on an “open competitive tender basis” and that the “question of ownership” of these companies was “completely irrelevant”.  The NGO has responded by requesting the details of the transactions.

International Hydropower Conference

If Taib choses to send in his police to arrest the Penan and forcibly dismantle the blockade or to prevent food and humanitarian provisions being brought to the blockaders, many of whom are women, it will not go unnoticed.

Sarawak has failed to even begin to abide by the protocols of transparency, consultation and agreement governing the building of dams under the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and numerous other protocols that bind Malaysia and most other countries, as anyone reading this blog will know.

As a result, the protests by the Penan are wholly legitimate, whereas the actions of the BN government are not.

Next year in May 2013 the International Hydropower Association is scheduled to hold its conference in Kuching, supposedly to mark a model exercise in corporate and social responsibility towards dam building, which is how Sjotveit and his colleagues from Hydro Tasmania have been attempting to portray Murum and Sarawak’s other planned dams.

Violence towards protestors will not fit in with this already unconvincing image.

Humanitarian aid is not to be allowed, say police



  1. Its time to declare war against the crooks and their agents be them police or thugs. Fight till the last man standing !

    Comment by Hasan — October 24, 2012 @ 8:03 PM | Reply

  2. bastards are worse than mugabe. call themselves muslims.

    Comment by abb-no MACC — October 24, 2012 @ 7:36 PM | Reply

  3. Sejak bila Polis memiliki hak untuk menafikan hak asasi rakyat untuk menerima bantuan? HARAM JADAH! Biar kita saksikan satu lagi episod yang boleh menyamaikan situasi ‘killing field’ dan ini sesuatu yang amat menyedihkan buat rakyat Sarawak. Memerangi rakyat sendiri merupakan satu penghinaan yang amat memalukan dan tidak bertamadun. Teruskan perjuangan dan mohon lebih banyak lagi NGO yang akan tampil untuk menghantar bantuan.

    Comment by Bard Swak — October 24, 2012 @ 3:28 PM | Reply

  4. This is precisely what the Rakyat had known all these years with anger and bitterness!Those who oppose the utterly biased BN are arbitrary declared illegal!The uncouth pro-BN thugs are legal!The dangerous mat-rempits are supported,encouraged and glamourised!Ask yourself,do you want your children to grow up in this kind of environment?The next time it could be you,your families,relatives or friends who will suffer!You cannot be too sure!Many have regretted too late!

    Comment by Reapusow — October 24, 2012 @ 1:34 PM | Reply

  5. Only in Sarawak…” Giving food to feed the hungry, giving medicine to treat the sick and bruised,giving clothes to cover the naked and any other good deeds” are considered INCITMENT by the police who pledged to protect the Rakyat. GOOD JOB Mr Policeman, no wonder your department rank first on complaints received..ask Tuan AG for confirmation if don’t beleive me lah. And what are you waiting for, arrest those Penans while they are still strong. Don’t wait untill they are too weak from hunger to put up a good fight..that is if you want a good fight lah otherwise wait untill they all drop dead from starvation!

    Comment by brian — October 24, 2012 @ 12:12 PM | Reply

  6. Bung Mokhtar knows that UMNO is replying on Sabah and Sarawak as their fixed deposit to remain in power but all the gravy goes to mostly one person Syed Mokhtar. He is in fact telling Najib, divide the gravy up or Sabah will no longer be your fixed deposit. That is the subliminal message that Bung Mokhtar hope will get into Najib.

    In the end it is still BN members playing the patronizing game and we have to put a stop to it by kicking all of them out of power. We need to start with a new slate.

    Comment by Vicky — October 24, 2012 @ 10:11 AM | Reply

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