Hornbill Unleashed

October 4, 2013

‘Lives threatened, long-house torched, villages drowned’

Aidila Razak

Penans from Ulu Murum, where the hyroelectric dam has been built, are terrified for their lives now that police have broken up their blockade, where about 300 have been demanding ample compensation for land and livelihood lost.

According to protester Gareng Jalung, 30-40 police officers armed with “loaded pistols and machine guns”came to break the blockade and bar protesters from stopping the dam impoundment.

Gareng, who was at Belaga police station when contacted, said that one long-house has also been torched, prior to the impoundment which has left seven Penan villages under water, all without notice.

“It is like the government is trying to kill us off. The Long Wat long house was torched last week, and we started our blockade on Sep 18.

NONE“On Sep 22, we realised that the workers had started to block the river to start impounding. We tried to stop them but then police came, with arms.

“We were scared because we saw them loading their weapons in front of us, but we did not use force against the workers. We only wanted them to stop the impoundment.,” he said.

Yesterday, he said, the police came to break the blockade and arrested protester Ngang Buling, who on Monday had lodged a report against Sarawak Energy Bhd on the matter.

In the commotion, one Inspector Sufian fired a warning shot into the air.

“They were rough with us. One of them tried to punch one of the protesters but we stopped him. We told them if you arrest Ngang, then arrest all of us. He is not our leader but one of us,” he said.

Ngang was released this morning, before the expiry of the 24-hour remand period, while 30 Penans have made the one-and-a-half hour’s drive to Belaga police station to lodge reports.

“We are lodging reports on the unjustified shooting by Inspector Sufian and the long-house torching,” he said.

NONE“We will return to Murum to continue our blockade. We have asked for ample compensation for eight years now, and all we are asking is for work to stop so we can continue negotiations.”

‘Best in the world’

Among others, the Penans are asking for RM500,000 and 2.5ha of land per family, as well as foraging and hunting rights at the forest reserve.

“Everything is now under water, our homes, our farms, everything. How will we survive now?”

Some from their community have accepted Sarawak Energy Bhd’s deal and relocated to modern homes complete with amenities some 40-minutes drive away from the Murum dam.

In a statement on Monday, Sarawak Energy Bhd said that the relocation programme is “one of its kind in the world”, and that it is open to further negotiations on the community’s welfare.

However, it said it cannot accept violence, alleging that the Penan protesters had threatened the lives of dam workers with machetes.

Alleging that they had been instigated by “foreigners and anti-government NGOs”, SEB said the threats forced work to stop for three days from Sep 28 to Oct 1.

“We only asked the Chinamen to stop work. We didn’t threaten them with violence at all,” Gareng said, referring to the allegation.

Inspector Sufian refused to comment when contacted, while his superiors have not returnedĀ Malaysiakini‘s calls.

The RM3.5 bil Murum dam is developed by Sarawak Energy Bhd and constructed by China’s Three Gorges Corporation.

SEB said that it will take 12 months to fully impound the dam, which will generate 944 mega-watts of electricity.

The Murum Dam transmission line will link up with the transmission line of equally controversial Bakun Dam to connect to power stations in Bintulu. Bakun will generate 1,777 mega-watts of electricity.

All the electricity generated from the two dams have been committed to industries in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy.

1 Comment »

  1. The Pehin is too ambitious even at that age and tail end reign, he should surrender everything to Awang Tengah and retire with his young wife in the Mediterranean or Caribbeans. With billons of ringgits he still can’t retire? You can’t retire in Bakun or Murum.

    Comment by robinhood — October 7, 2013 @ 10:03 PM | Reply

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