Hornbill Unleashed

June 25, 2014

‘Expose broken promises to Upper Belaga evicted’

Dukau Papau

Save Rivers Network Sarawak (Save Rivers) has asked the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to expose the broken promises made by the Sarawak government to the indigenous people forced out for the Murum Dam in Upper Belaga so that they can get a better life.

“We are happy that a team from Suhakam has visited the resettlement areas at Tegulang and Matalun in Murum and was able to see the problems with their own eyes.

Save Rivers  chairperson Peter Kallang (left) said in a letter to Suhakam yesterday: “Please  tell the world about the people’s miseries and problems as these are tangible pieces of  evidence that all the grand promises made by the government are just rhetoric to hoodwink the people in order to make sure that the dams are built.

“We have visited the people in the resettlement areas and we know that they have a litany of complaints. I can’t understand why their plights are being ignored.

“Suhakam should expose the plight of these natives to the world in an effort to put pressure on the state government.”

Thanking Suhakam officers or the visit to the Tegulang and Matalun resettlement areas near the Murum dam last week, Peter said: “Sarawak Energy Bhd boasted that Murum Dam is of international standard, that it is the example of all future dams in Sarawak.”

However, he added, it has shown that the continued sufferings of the indigenous people forcibly evicted for the construction for the construction of the Murum dam resettlement are just another example of broken promises and shabby management.

‘Don’t dupe them with glorious promises’

“People in Baram must never be duped by all the glorious promises of better livelihood in the so called ‘Bandar Baru’, which is made to sound like the mythical Shangri-La.

“But as proven from the past dams, the government is not sincere in fulfilling its promises. All it wants is to get rid of the villages and villagers, and use their ancestral land to build mega dams.

“Sadly, but inevitably, the people who benefit from the mega dams projects are not the natives who sacrifice so much in making way for the dams.

“Just look at the experience of the people who made ways for the Batang Ai Dam, Bakun Dam and now the Murum Dam,” Peter said, pointing out that some landowners from the first dam built in the state in he 1980s, the, Batang Ai Dam, have yet to receive their rightful compensation until today.

Peter added: “As you know the state government, through its government-linked company, SEB, is planning to build more mega dams in the state in order to achieve their ultimate target of 20,000MW of installed capacity from hydro-power dams by 2030.

“The Murum dam is just 944MW and the Bakun dam 2,400MW. So there is a long way to go.

“But sadly, the government seems to believe that the Murum Dam resettlement plan is  the best in the world. A spokesman for the state government and SEB told an international hydro power conference in Kuching last year that the Murum resettlement plan would be a model for all dams to be built later.

“There should not be any down play of the unfulfilled promises as we fear that the state government and SEB will make the Murum resettlement plan as their selling point to hoodwink the people as what they are doing now with the so-called ‘bandar baru’ (new township) concept in Baram.

“If that could be done, I think it will not only have a bigger impact, but will also help us to expose the broken promises of the government.”

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