Hornbill Unleashed

January 19, 2013

BMF wants hydropower association to cancel dam conference in Sarawak

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Bruno Manser Fund

International Hydropower Association urged to cancel Sarawak conference over greenwashing concerns

Industry group warned over reputational risks due to Malaysian dam scheme’s corruption, lack of sustainability

(LONDON, UK) The International Hydropower Association (IHA), an industry group that claims to advocate the sustainable use of hydropower, has been urged to cancel its annual conference planned to be held in Kuching, Malaysia, in May 2013. The conference is hosted by Sarawak Energy, a public company controlled by Abdul Taib Mahmud („Taib“), the controversial Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Sarawak.

In a letter to the IHA, the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) called on the lobby group to call off the Kuching conference and shift it to a new location. „Sarawak Energy is currently involved in one of Asia’s largest dam-building schemes, in which none of the relevant international standards are being applied“, the Bruno Manser Fund wrote.

The planned twelve new dams would flood large tracts of the Borneo rainforest, one of the most biodiverse habitats in the world. Tens of thousands of Sarawak natives are facing forced resettlement without being properly consulted on the impact of the dams scheme on their livelihood.

„There is a real and high danger that your association will be abused to greenwash the Sarawak government’s dam plans“, the Bruno Manser Fund wrote to the IHA. „These plans are facing fierce local opposition and will mainly benefit companies linked to Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud.“

The Bakun mega dam, which has been constructed in Sarawak during Taib’s tenure, has been labelled by Transparency International a ‚monument of corruption’ and there are no indications that Taib’s latest dam plans will not be linked to massive corruption.

Earlier this week, lawmakers in Switzerland announced they would push for a freeze of Taib assets suspected to be held by Swiss banks. In a criminal complaint lodged with Switzerland’s Attorney General, Swiss MP Carlo Sommaruga called for the Taib family to be declared a criminal organization. The Taib family’s assets, estimated at USD 20 billion, are largely the fruit of corruption and abuse of public office.

„We believe that the choice of Kuching as venue of the next IHA conference would be extremely damaging to the IHA’s reputation“, the Bruno Manser Fund wrote to the industry group. The International Hydropower Association has not replied yet to the letter, which it received last month.

– Ends –

Please contact us for more information:

Bruno Manser Fund

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4051 Basel, Switzerland

Tel. +41 61 261 94 74

http://www.bmf.ch, http://www.stop-timber-corruption.org



    “Sarawak Energy is currently involved in one of Asia’s largest dam-building schemes, in which none of the relevant international standards are being applied“, the Bruno Manser Fund wrote.”

    Sarawak dams benefit only the elite minority ruling class & cronies not people and nature.

    Comment by Anon — January 19, 2013 @ 2:45 PM | Reply

  2. IHA go for a comprehensive assessment on the limitation the number of hydro dams should to be build within an standard catchment area. Your conference should not be eying on the aspect of dam on basis of a cleaner environment alone. Check whether is there any urgency, necessity to build so many hydro dams in Sarawak?

    Local Sarawakians know better, not to build dams for the sake of building dams. It’s the money dams. Who else can bid or compete with him on such A-Z contract. From ground clearings, timber extractions, cement, steel, you can just mention they are all in the inventory list.

    IHA should not lose focus to advise him the “uban”government to build more standard roads linking to rural villages, provide easy electrification plans affordable to them from the present hydro source instead of damaging more green. That is the foremost priority otherwise IHA has been bought to come and bluff Sarawakians?

    IHA how long does it take to build a hydro dam. How long does the eco greens on the ground and rivers strive in order to grow?

    Nature, Alive or Dead!

    Comment by miaOwkia — January 19, 2013 @ 1:59 PM | Reply

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