Hornbill Unleashed

October 3, 2013

Police report lodged against Sarawak government as Penans fight resettlement due to Murum dam

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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Penan representatives demanding higher compensation from the state government and its energy company for their settlement land have lodged a police report in Miri over the move by Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) to impound the Murum hydroelectric dam.

The Penans want the impoundment stopped and are said to among other demand half-a-million ringgit compensation per family.

The group came to the coastal Miri city all the way from their deep jungle home, which will be submerged once the dam is filled with water in a year’s time.

They claimed SEB gave no notice when it started work to fill the reservoir.

They pointed out that most of them have yet to move to the resettlement sites prepared by SEB, saying negotiations on their demands are still ongoing.

In their media statement released through SAVE Rivers Network, the Penans said they were “caught by surprise” when SEB started to impound the dam on September 22, affecting their daily lives and threatening their safety.

Lugan Usang, a spokesman from the group, said his people’s safety is at risk because above the Murum dam, many Penan and Kenyah communities have yet to move and still live in their villages.

The villages include Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu, Long Malim, Long Wat and Long Umpa.

Lugan, who is from Long Tangau, said their livestock are also at risk.

“The government never issued any notice before starting to impound the dam,” Lugan added.

The impoundment, he said, would soon cause their properties, farms, fruit trees and customary lands to be destroyed.

He said this is the basis of their claim for compensation.

Lugan pointed out that another group of Penans and Kenyahs, an ethnic group belonging to Orang Ulu, could not move because the resettlement site at Metalon has yet to be completed.

“The crops and fruit trees which were promised to us by the government to sustain our livelihood have yet to be planted.

“The same goes for the school and the clinic. They are not built yet. How are we going to live at Metalon?” Lugan asked.

Meanwhile, Save Rivers claimed that SEB chief executive officer Torstein Dale Sjotveit was chased away from the dam site after failing to meet the demands of the Penan and Kenyah communities.

The non-governmental organisation slammed the Sjotveit, a Norwegian, as “arrogant in dealing with the Penans”, adding that he has no interest at all to negotiate.

It added that Sjotveit was “was adamant to order the protesters to lift their blockade and leave the area”.

Meanwhile, another police report by SEB has claimed that a group of Penans wielding parangs slipped past the dam’s security screen last Saturday to threaten workers at the site.

Zhao Jian Qiang, the general manager of China Three Gorges Corporation – the Chinese company contracted to build the dam – described the incident as “serious”, and said works on the powerhouse and intake tunnel were forced to temporarily stop.

“Even though only a few protestors were involved, our men believed that the threat was serious,” Zhao said.

Sjotveit has blamed “foreign instigators” for the incident.

The RM4 billion hydroelectric dam can produce 944 megawatts of power and is about 70km up-stream the mammoth Bakun hydroelectric dam built by the federal government.

Murum is the first of 12 dams proposed by the state government all over Sarawak to meet demand by power guzzling industries located in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, or Score.

The Sarawak government has often stated in the past that the dams would be built to meet demand for more power. Power generated by the Bakun and Murum hydroelectric dams was taken up by industries in Mukah, Bintulu, as well as by the state power grid.



  1. Bakun Damned dam cost overrun was explained in the BP today as the purchased of 5 “BIG ONES” additional turbines. Well, what happens to merit the need to buy additional turbines when the Damned Dam was scaled down in size? Infact, why do we need to build more damned dams when RM millions were spent to ” UPGRADE” Bakun Damned dam with additional turbines to produce more power?

    The only reason is perhaps to deny and take away lands from the natives. Landless natives will remain poor, taib and PBB will continue to rule and their Chinese co conspirators will own the native communal lands disguised as timber concessions and planted forest for eternity. The Chinese will be the majority land owners while taib and his PBB will be the king. Money is power and vice versa, isn’t it toasted Torstein, mr foreigner and champion oppressor of Murum Penans?!

    Comment by brian — October 3, 2013 @ 2:06 PM | Reply

  2. RM500,000.00 cash compensation per family as demanded are actually pittance to the Penans for having lost tens of thousand hactares of their territory domain and ancestral land to SEB for having constructed the dubious dam at the instruction of the thief minister.

    Comment by Affendi Nawawi — October 3, 2013 @ 12:12 PM | Reply

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