Hornbill Unleashed

January 17, 2011

Revisiting the Bakun dam controversy

Carol Yong

Sarawak’s Bakun Dam continues to arouse controversies and conflicts, not least because Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, on his latest state visit to Sarawak (15 January) decides to meet the villagers at the Sungai Asap resettlement scheme. Officially, at least, Najib wants ‘to address outstanding issues such as the Native Customary Rights land around the dam area.’ However, following Barisan National’s conventional practice before any upcoming elections – in this case, the Sarawak state elections which must be held before June – there is wide speculation that Najib ‘will be dishing out compensation to villagers displaced by the RM7.3 billion Bakun Dam.’ (more…)


December 10, 2010

Bakun resettlers stage protest over decade-old road issue

Joseph Tawie

Bakun dam resettlers, fed up with deplorable road conditions caused by logging trucks over the past decade, staged a demonstration last week.

More than 100 of them stopped several logging trucks laden with logs from using a public road at the Bakun Resettlement Centre in Sungai Asap, Belaga, on Wednesday.

Burdened by lack of economic activities and other woes after moving out of their ancestral lands, they took matters into their own hands after complaints to the government and timber companies were ignored. (more…)

November 11, 2010

No rhyme or reason to big dams


The Sarawak Government’s enthusiasm for damming rivers appears to prioritise venality over vision,

THE PENAN headman stood motionless, gazing into the jungle treetops, saying nothing and frustrating officials as they anxiously awaited his opinion of the new home-site they had chosen for his people. What did he think of this jungle region on the Koyan

River in central Sarawak, about 40km as the crow flies from his old home on the mighty upper Rajang River? (more…)

October 31, 2010

Bakun Damned: Where have all the waters gone?

 By HU Editor

(Video link inside)We have just received a call from Daniel, a Kenyah teacher, in Belaga: “Nanga Merit, Nanga Metah, Punan Bah, SK Long Terawan, SK Nanga Merit, SK Punan Bah, Kampung Terawan … All the schools and villages below Belaga Town are cut off because the river has dried up due to the impoundment of Bakun Dam.”

Even the engineers of Sarawak Hydro are telling us that the state government has no plan to overcome the problem because they are unlikely to stop the impoundment.(more…)

October 30, 2010

The mighty Rajang River not so mighty after all

By Chris Reubens

Malaysian Mirror

Malaysia’s longest river – the Rajang in Sarawak – is a source of food, income and a mean of transport for the people living along the 640km waterway.

Once the pride of Sarawak, the Rajang is now old and sick with years of abuses, mostly man-made. And recently, there’s growing fear that the water level is running low. It has reached a critically low point as reported.

On Oct 8, the Rajang was suffocated with logjam causing losses of RM2.7 million after bridges and jetties were swept (more…)

October 29, 2010

Petrified Baram natives want ‘dam plan’ scrapped

By Joseph Tawie

Some 20,000 indigenous natives of Kayan, Kenyah, Saben and Penan communities living in the Baram division are horrified to hear about the voluminous fast-flowing Rajang River drying up, a phenomenon blamed in part to the impoundment of the controversial Bakun dam which began on Oct 13.

The unexpected dry spell and the continuous impoundment has caused untold misery and hardship for those living along the Kapit, Belaga, Nanga Merit and Pelagus areas. (more…)

October 28, 2010

Mighty Rajang running dangerously low

By Joseph Tawie

The Rajang River, once mighty and voluminous, is fast running low – no thanks to the dry spell and the impoundment of the Bakun Dam.

The water level has reached a critically low point, triggering alarm among residents along the river.

The alert has gone out to the authorities to keep watch on more than 79 schools located downstream.

The schools in Kapit, Song and Belaga collectively have 20,000 (more…)

Anwar lodges police report over Bakun Dam corruption

By Anwar Ibrahim

This is the English version of the text of the report by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on 12 November 1999. It gives us the background to the most expensive project in Sarawak todate of which the cost overruns from RM4 billion to RM15 billion remains a mystery and the Sarawak government is now contemplating to spend our Sarawakians money to the tune of RM7 billion to buy this white elephant from the federal government. – HU Editor (more…)

October 25, 2010

Awang Tengah : We cannot undo Bakun Dam impoundment

The government will go on with the Bakun hydro dam impoundment, Second Planning and Resource Management Minister Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said.

He added that the government had expected the water level at the Rajang River to recede to a certain degree during the impoundment but not at the current level, which he said was “totally unexpected.”

“We gave the permit to start the impoundment this month because based on studies and weather reports, we are supposed to be in the monsoon season by now. (more…)

October 18, 2010

How did a ‘Chinaman’ from Sarawak lay his hands on the deal of the century?

By Hakim Joe of Malaysia Today

As a stubborn man who can never accept ‘no’ for an answer, Mahathir Mohamad or TDM revived the US$5.2 billion “deal of the century” project again in September 1993 and awarded it to Ekran Berhad (without a public tender exercise) in 1994. (Ekran’s CEO’s wife is the now infamous “I don’t know what is projected cashflow” former PKA General Manager and PKFZ MD Datin O.C. Phang.) One of the major shareholders of Ekran is Rasip Harun. Who is he? Rasip is the business partner of Tun Daim Zainuddin (who happens to be the Finance Minister at that time). Coincidence? Rasip is also the partner of Robert Tan Hua Choon (another one of Daim’s business partners) who controlled Jasa Kita Sdn Bhd, a company involved in the Maika Telekoms share diversion. Remember Samy’s proxy company Clearway Sdn Bhd? Robert Tan’s driver (Baharuddin M. Arip) happened to be a director of that company. Rich driver indeed! (Probably comes to work in a Lamborghini.) (more…)

October 17, 2010


By Hakim Joe of Malaysia Today

Why would someone harness the power of moving liquid and transform it into a clean and usable energy? The answer is of course for the electricity that is utilized to operate the multitude of electrical and electronic devices that we have. Simple answer.

Now comes the harder question. Why would someone want to generate electricity through a giant hydroelectric plant in an area that does not demand that massive supply? Answer me that question and you can stop reading. (more…)

October 14, 2010

MoCS wants independent probe on Rajang ‘disaster’

The Sarawak Legislative Assembly has been urged to set up a Special Select Committee to conduct a full-scale investigation into the recent ecological disaster on the Rajang River.

Making the call here Wednesday, Movement For Change, Sarawak (MoCS) leader Francis Paul Siah said the committee must be independent and should comprise equal representation from both sides of the political divide.

“It would be meaningless if DAP legislators are left out of the probe team. Both sides must be in the committee,” he said

What makes Masing ‘not an ostrich’?

State Information Chief of PKR, See Chee How, said he found it bizarre for Minister for Land Development, James Masing, to call on his own cabinet colleagues not to take the ‘ostrich’ approach, but rather to take stern action against those repsonsible for the timber mass and debris clogging up the Rejang River.

In a press conference this morning at PKR Stampin Mile 3, See said Masing had called it as an ecological disaster but after nearly a week, the state government is still in the dark as to its root cause.

“Now, whenever it rains in the upper reaches of the major rivers, floods are reported in the towns along and at the lower reaches of the rivers, in Sibu and the central region, and now also in Sri Aman and Miri,” he pointed out. (more…)

October 13, 2010

Rajang logjam caused RM2.7 million loss ?

The massive logjam in the Rajang River has caused an estimated loss of RM2.7 million after bridges and jetties were awash with debris, beginning from the Malataheli timber camp, about 75km upstream from Kapit.

Deputy Chief Minister George Chan said today the logjam, which began since last Thursday, destroyed two logging bridges at the upper reaches of the Baleh tributary, as well as five clinics and longhouse jetties at Entawau, SK Sempilik and Nanga Entelawan. (more…)

Logjam puts S’wak gov’t on the rack

By Terence Netto

The logjam on the Baleh and Rajang rivers in Sarawak, reputed to be 250km long, stretching from the upper reaches to Kanowit down to Sibu on the South China Sea coast, could not have come at a worse time for the government of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

The continuing logjam, making river transport nearly impossible and depriving people living in longhouses off the banks of vital fish stocks, has heightened Dayak discontent with the ruling BN coalition, already embroiled in disputes with the community over native customary rights (NCR) land.

October 12, 2010

Sarawak govt rapped for failure in Rajang mess

By Chris Reubens

The state government was taken to task by Sarawak PKR for failing to prevent the “ecological disaster” that saw the Rajang River being clogged by timber mass and debris since last Friday.

PKR state information chief See Chee How, at a press conference here Tuesday, said this shows the poor governance and incompetence among the present state administrators.

“They have failed to contain the problem of the massive timber mass and debris that clogged the Rajang River,” said See who also warned that Sarawakians will suffer greater losses in terms of socio-economic costs and ecological damage.

Ecological havoc: State govt panned

By Joseph Tawie

Sarawak PKR today slammed the state government for its failure to prevent an “ecological disaster” when timber mass and debris clogged the Rajang River for the past five days.

“Its failure to contain the problem shows poor governance and incompetence in dealing with the consequences of developments.

“Sarawakians will suffer greater losses in terms of socio-economic costs and ecological damage,” PKR information chief See Chee How said.

Hall of shame for Sarawak timber giant

By Patrick Lee

Entering the hall of shame seems to be quite common for Malaysia, especially when it comes to human rights.

Survival International, an international indigenous rights NGO, has named Sarawak timber giant Samling as one of the five biggest violators of tribal peoples’ rights worldwide.

Other companies named and accused of human rights violations by the NGO include French-owned GDF Suez, Brazilian-owned Yaguarete Pora and Botswana-owned Wilderness Safaris.

Sarawak’s democracy logjam

By Pak Bui

Rotting wood clogged up 250km of the Rejang, the largest river in Malaysia, and the life-giving artery that flows from the heart of our state.

Corruption caused this ecological disaster. Corruption, in human society, means to offer or receive bribes. The Latin root is corruptus, meaning to spoil, break or destroy. The word also refers to the decomposition of plants or animals. This latest scandal reminds all Sarawakians that corruption inevitably means decay and putrefaction. (more…)

October 11, 2010

Bakun Dam ‘is an economic rip-off’

By Joseph Tawie

The construction of the Bakun and seven other dams plus the coal-fired power plants are economic rip-offs – they are Sarawak’s own get-rich-quick schemes.

“The massive sums involved in building these large dams would certainly guarantee handsome profits for the privileged project proponents,” said See Chee How, Sarawak PKR information chief.

“This is not development for Sarawak, but an economic rip-off. Sarawak-owned get-rich-quick schemes have exhausted our timber resources. (more…)

Fear rises as Bakun Dam gets ready for flooding

Filed under: Corruption,Dams,Logging — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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By Joseph Tawie

The water behind the Bakun Dam will be impounded tomorrow, but has the government put in place an emergency rescue plan (ERP)? An environmental conservation group does not think so.

The Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment is worried that the riverine communities living upstream and downstream of the dam will be in grave danger once the dam is impounded (closing the diversion tunnel gates to allow water levels to rise).

“The government must make public the ERP for Bakun Dam before impounding the water. If there is no such plan, then the government must not proceed with its flooding trial run until an ERP has been in place and the people have been adequately informed of the procedures laid down by the plan,” said the group national coordinator, Raymond Abin.

October 9, 2010

Come let’s play ball….but Bakun is NOT a ball…..

Sarawak wants the federal government to consider the state’s interest in the sales of Bakun hydro electric dam to avoid the multi-million ringgit project being branded as a “white elephant”.

State Public Utilities Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said the federal government should look into the state government’s purpose to purchase the dam which was to power the state’s heavy industries.

“The federal government should consider not only on making profit but also look at the overall factors,” he told reporters after attending the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, Sarawak, Hari Raya Aidilfitri gathering here last night.

NGO: Don’t fill Bakun dam until rescue plan is in place

Filed under: Corruption,Dams,Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
Tags: , , , ,

The government should halt plans to fill up the Bakun dam until it updates its 10-year-old emergency rescue plan (ERP), says local NGO Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (Scane).

The group said it was concerned over the safety of and adverse impacts on riverine communities in the neighbourhood of the country’s largest dam.

“Scane warns Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd not to proceed with its flooding trial run for the Bakun dam until an ERP has been in place and the public has been adequately informed of the procedures laid down by the plan,” its national coordinator Raymond Abin said in a statement today. (more…)

October 8, 2010

Log-jammed river disaster unfolding in Sarawak – Now in Sibu !

By HU Editor

(Updated with Video) This is outrageous and disastrous. Will the state government spend astronomical sums of Sarawakians’ money to clear up the mess or just let the rotting logs flow into the South China Sea? Will the culprits be prosecuted?

The Chief Minister, in charge of issuing logging licences for the last 30 years (and indiscriminate destruction of our forests) should be held responsible.


Taib’s massive headache….. He deserves it!

By HU Editor

( Video Inside )This is outrageous and disastrous. Will the state government spend astronomical sums of Sarawakians’ money to clear up the mess or just let the rotting logs flow into the South China Sea? Will the culprits be prosecuted?

The Chief Minister, in charge of issuing logging licences for the last 30 years (and indiscriminate destruction of our forests), should be held responsible.


October 7, 2010

A westerner who defends Taib’s dams


Torstein Dale Sjotveit, the Norwegian boss of Sarawak’s privatised electricity monopoly, Sarawak Energy Bhd, has alleged that European environmentalists protesting against mass displacement of Sarawakian natives are against “economic development”.

In an interview with radio station BFM aired yesterday in the Klang Valley and parts of nearby states, Sjotveit attacked the NGOs for defending the land rights of natives displaced by the Bakun and Murum dams.

Sjotveit ( right) claimed that European NGOs, such as the Basel-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), harboured hidden motives for opposing the building of dams. (more…)

October 6, 2010

The jungle is a dangerous place

By Sim Kwang YangNONE

For all middle-class urban citizens, the jungle must seem like a primitive, wild place. We urbanites can only be comfortable when we are surrounded by what we consider to be the advanced products of industrial civilization. Plunged into the middle of the jungle, we would probably not survive on our own for more than a few days.

But the Penan are perfectly comfortable in this jungle environment. They are familiar with the forest, and know it like their back of their hand. Like all jungle dwellers, the Penans are totally immersed in the land where they live. They depend on this environment for their survival.

October 4, 2010

In Bakun, information is POWER

NONEBy Wong Teck Chi

The Belaga state seat which houses the controversial Bakun dam, is seen as one of the few Orang Ulu constituencies the opposition has a chance of winning in the next Sarawak state election, which needs to be held before July next year.

However, lack of information caused by remote geographical factors might prove to be a stumbling block for local voters to make informed decisions on their future.

The constituency is as large as Pahang state, but has only a population of around 20,000 and 7,000 registered voters. About half are concentrated in the Sungai Asap resettlement area. (more…)

October 2, 2010

Foundation charts path to help Penans before Sarawak Poll, Why?

By Malaysian Miror

Yayasan Sejahtera, a foundation which seeks to alleviate hardcore poverty in the country, is to implement a plan to uplift the life of the Penan people in Sarawak.

Its chairman,  Shahrir Abdul Samad, said the plan, which would focus on the Lusong Laku and Pulau Beruit areas, would be launched on Wednesday by Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

The comprehensive community development plan would encompass support for sustainable livelihood, basic food needs, building and rehabilitating of homes and, at the same time, provide basic community services, he said in a statement. (more…)

September 30, 2010

No way home for Bakun natives

By MalaysiaKini

Many among the 10,000 Orang Ulu who were resettled by the government to Sungai Asap 12 years ago because of the Bakun hydroelectric dam project, are still nostalgic about their old life in the upstream areas of Sungai Balui, which are full of natural resources and good things to eat.

However, following the completion of the RM7.3 billion project and the commencement of the water catchment process by year’s end, there will be no return to their native customary rights (NCR) land as most of it will be under water.

The remaining highlands will become islands in a lake as big as Singapore, which might then be developed by the government to become new tourist spots for nature-lovers or those who enjoy fishing. (more…)

September 28, 2010

Sarawak offers RM6bil to buy over Bakun hydro project

By Malaysian Mirror

Sarawak is offering RM6bil to buy over the Bakun hydroelectric project from the federal government, said Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

“We have made our bid (RM6bil), the bid is flexible in the sense that if the method of payment can be made lighter we can increase a bit more, but there is limit to what we can pay,” he told reporters after attending an Aidifitri open house at Kem Penrissen Batu 8 here Sunday.

Taib said the negotiations on the matter (the state buying over the project) were still ongoing and that a final decision had yet to be reached. (more…)

September 25, 2010

Federal gov’t to sell Bakun dam to Sarawak

bakun dam and electricity electricThe federal government has agreed to sell the Bakun hydroelectric dam in Belaga to the Sarawak government, said Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin Fah Kui.

Chin told Bernama the federal government and the Sarawak government had started negotiations to determine the price.

“Sarawak has offered to buy. The federal government said okay.

“Since they want the electricity to remain in Sarawak, we will not continue with the undersea cable project.

September 21, 2010


News publications have been chewing over the figures as Bakun waits to be flooded and have come to some inevitable, long-predicted conclusions.

Firstly, the Dam has no genuine economic purpose.  Sarawak already has more electricity than its impoverished population can afford to use and the plans to send it to Malaysia by undersea cable was a fantasy by technology-illiterate ministers.

Secondly, the dam will actually make electricity more, not less expensive for ordinary Sarawakians, as existing power plants will be shut and Sarawak Hidro are desperate to claw back some of the RM 7.3 billion costs. (more…)

September 14, 2010

Bakun Dam may turn into a ‘white elephant’

By Sarah Stewart

KUALA LUMPUR: The RM7.3 billion in Sarawak, already condemned as a catastrophe for the environment and tribal people, is now battling suggestions it could become a giant white elephant.

The dam, which will eventually submerge an area the size of Singapore, is finally nearing completion after suffering a series of setbacks and delays since its approval in 1993.

But at the last hurdle the project has stumbled again, with delays in winning the state government’s permission to begin the flooding process and no deal yet on purchasing its hefty 2,400 megawatt output.

With ambitious plans for an undersea cable to feed the Bakun’s electricity to the Malaysian peninsula now abandoned, the Sarawak government is the only feasible buyer — leaving it with a very strong hand.

September 12, 2010

Belaga folks await tourists at Bakun Dam

NONEBy MalaysiaKini

For the people of Belaga, among the most remote districts in Malaysia, they are looking upon the Bakun Hydroelectric Project to generate a new economic activity for them – which is, tourism.

Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang said the completion of the project, slated to be in December this year, would change the landscape in the district.

“There will be a lot of new islands created (once the water level at the Bakun Dam are raised), providing new potentials for the people here to promote them and be involved in the tourism industry,” he told Bernama in an interview recently. (more…)

September 5, 2010

A distant cry for help from the jungle

NONEBy Sim Kwang Yang

The year was 1993, and I was serving my third term as an opposition member of parliament (MP) of Bandar Kuching.

In the Malaysian context at the time, the core of an MP’s job was to service the constituency, by solving the little problems created by inefficient administration, like looking after blocked drains, neglected garbage collection, and attending to minor daily problems faced by the constituents. That was how politicians saw their roles in Malaysians’ daily lives.

But I had different ideas about politics. I believed that the duty of our Wakil Rakyat was to serve the whole nation, and in the context of Sarawak, to serve all the people in the state. Therefore, I devoted my energies throughout the 1990s to the contentious battle to protect the forests of my home state, Sarawak. It was a tough job, because nobody was interested in environmental protection, and the powerful timber interests made sure that we were denied access to the mass communication media. (more…)

September 2, 2010

Taib Mahmud: How to be Malaysia’s richest like me

Filed under: Corruption,Dams,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , , ,


Poor Sarawak! Despite its immense natural resources, it is going to take some time before it can join the ranks of Malaysia’s richest states, according to Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. The fault, he seemed to imply, lies in Sarawakians themselves; they apparently lack discipline and focus.

In his Merdeka Day message, he spoke of “national discipline and focus” and said Sarawak could become Malaysia’s richest state by 2030 if the people were to acquire these two qualities.

“We can be the richest state in Malaysia if we keep the stability in the country and unite the people to focus on building our future and train ourselves to be equal with Americans and Europeans,” he said.

Cynics sneered at the statement, seeing in it an appeal to voters to give him another 20 years of power. (more…)

August 28, 2010

Small town justice leaves boy in a fix

NONEBy Keruah Usit

Football, the ‘beautiful game’, can turn ugly at times. An altercation over an ostensibly friendly game of football has led to disturbing allegations of police brutality in the small rural town of Lawas in northeastern Sarawak.

Salutan Buayeh, a village committee member in the Lun Bawang community of Long Pengalih, has reported that his nephew, a schoolboy, had been arrested, beaten and threatened by policemen in Lawas, following a seemingly innocuous argument over football.

Salutan (right) told the Sarawak Indigenous News website on Aug 10 that his nephew had been kept in a police cell for two nights, but had not been investigated nor charged with any crime.

“We villagers are not satisfied because the schoolboy did not commit any wrongdoing,” he remonstrated.

New blockades in Sarawak against pipeline threat

By Joseph Sipalan

Indigenous tribes are putting up more blockades in Sarawak’s northern region, but this time it is to stop a new threat to their precarious existence.

While the Penans and other tribes continue their fight against oil palm plantations and timber giants, they face another hostile front in the form of the 500km-long Sarawak-Sabah Gas Pipeline (SSGP) linking an upcoming oil and gas terminal in neighbouring Kimanis, Sabah to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) complex in Bintulu.

Indigenous Network of Malaysia (JOAS) president Adrian Lasimbang said numerous blockades have been set up by locals along the pipeline route, including in Lawas and Long Nyakit in Baram.

The local media also carried reports earlier this month on several blockades, including one in Ba Kelalan which held up construction work. (more…)

August 25, 2010

Angry Bidayuhs won’t budge from Bengoh Dam area

By Joseph Tawie

The RM315 million Bengoh Dam is coming up, but standing in its way are the Bidayuhs who will not shift out to make way.

They are not against development. They simply want justice – fair compensation. But it appears they will not be getting it and they are very angry.

Former Dayak Bidayuh National Association president, Peter Minos, said the Bengoh agencies are inconsiderate for ignoring the plight of the Bidayuhs from four villages which are affected by the construction of the dam.

Some 1,000 Bidayuhs from 394 families are to be relocated elsewhere.

“If the relevant dam agencies give the four villages the right compensation for the abandoned land – houses, basic facilities and utilities and job opportunities – then the affected Bidayuhs will not pose a problem at all.

August 24, 2010

Serious flooding in Sarawak

Filed under: Corruption,Dams — Hornbill Unleashed @ 9:06 AM
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We are not amused! Didn’t BN said (during Sibu by-election) that 7 of 11 mitigation projects in Sibu have been completed? Where has all the money gone to?


August 23, 2010

Lawless Lawas highlights rural voters’ anger

azlanBy Keruah Usit

Rural Sarawakians are becoming increasingly vocal about their dissatisfaction with their lack of basic public services, and with their shabby treatment at the hands of corporate and bureaucratic outsiders.

A new flashpoint is the construction of the Sabah-Sarawak Gas Pipeline Project through customary land belonging to Lun Bawang natives around Lawas, a small town near the border between the two east Malaysian states. Lun Bawang villagers have blockaded the access road for the project.

Local villagers have reported heightened tensions between local villagers and two corporate giants, gas producer Petronas and logging company Samling, according to the Sarawak Indigenous Community News website. (more…)

August 18, 2010

Long Kevok Blockade Stands … Lawas Blockade Erected

By HU Editor

Anak Ulu Baram in his/her comment yesterday wrote: “News from Ulu Baram saying that Petronas is financing the PPF/PGA and local drivers sending their people (armed PPF/army) to clear the blockades by Penan in Long Kevok … Long Seridan area,” He/She enquired if we can verify the “news” he/she received.

Last night, our contact in Ulu Baram verified with us that the blockade still stands. At 9.15am this morning, U, our Penan friend in Long Kevok, made a short trip to the blockade site and called to confirm that it remains where it stands.

The local indigenous communities are not objecting to the laying of Petronas gas pipeline, however it is understood that Petronas contractors have caused unnecessarily extensive damages and destruction to forests, their land and crops, disregarding the voices of grievance and distress by the affected Penan, Kenyah and Lun Bawang settlements.

A claim form was distributed to some of the affected communities, but it was not explained as to the damages and losses that the indigenous communities may be compensated. (more…)


Episode three of Sarawak Gone’s, The Dam, the Bidayuh travel to the Bakun Dam resettlement scheme and hear from the resettled Kenyah at Sungai Asap about their experiences and see first hand the results of resettlement. They also meet with Iban at Rumah Agi who fought to retain customary right to their own land in the face of palm oil exploitation.

August 17, 2010

Taib Mahmud stuck in a time-warp

taib mahmud and sarawak timber kickbacks 2By Keruah Usit

Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud has courted further controversy by releasing an edited transcript of an interview he gave to an Oxford radio station during a recent marketing trip sponsored by his family.

In the interview, he rejected criticism leveled against his state government by NGOs on the ‘Penan issue’.

According to Bernama, Taib spoke with “regret” of the attention given by “unfriendly” NGOs, particularly foreign ones, to the plight of the Penan. He avoided any direct reference to the sexual abuse of Penan girls by loggers, as documented by a federal government ministerial task force.

August 16, 2010

Bakun dam delay worries Sarawak Hidro

By Joseph Tawie

The state government has still not given the green light for the impoundment of the RM7.3 billion Bakun dam, which is already behind schedule, and this is causing concern to Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd. The delay will cost Sarawak Hidro, the owner and developer of the dam, a staggering amount in interest payment on its loan to the Employees Provident Fund.

Sarawak Hidro is wholly owned by Minister of Finance Inc.

“From next year, an additional interest payment of RM10 million per month will be incurred as the dam is already five months behind schedule.

“It will take seven months from the impounding date for the dam to reach its minimum level in order to generate power,” Sarawak Hidro managing director Zulkiflie Osman told reporters recently.

August 15, 2010

Bakun Dam generates Putrajaya-S’wak tension


By Kuek Ser Kuang Keng

Many were relieved at the announcement that one of Malaysia’s most controversial and largest projects – the Bakun Dam – will finally be completed by this December, after 16 years of construction.

However, problems surrounding the world’s second highest concrete-faced rockfill dam are far from over.

Apparently tension is brewing between the Sarawak and federal governments over who should be the winner in the tariff negotiation.

Some worry that the state government is using its power over the dam impoundment as a bargaining chip to demand a lower tariff.

But Sarawak Hidro Bhd, the owner of the Bakun Dam wholly-owned by the Finance Ministry, has dismissed such speculation.

Taib’s smelter eyeing cheap power (more…)

July 15, 2010

Settlers need sustainable economic activities

By Roselind Jarrow @ FMT

An economist with University Malaysia Sarawak has warned of serious repercussions in the state if there are insufficient funds to create and implement sustainable economic activities for the natives alongside projects planned in the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP).

“Where there are mega projects such as a heavy industry, hydro projects, construction of highways and SCORE (Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy) project being implemented in Sarawak in the 10MP, there should be sufficient funds to finance, create and implement them.

“This is to avoid the failures and the experiences in Batang Ai and Bakun,” said Professor Dr Dimbab Ngidang in a paper presented at a recent one-day seminar organised by Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) and opened by Chief Minister Taib Mahmud.

April 16, 2010

The end of the jungle?

The Borneo jungleThe Malaysian government and the palm oil industry has been accused of laying waste to last remaining rainforests of Borneo in what has been described as a corporate land grab.

The Malaysian government and the palm oil industry has been accused of laying waste to last remaining rainforests of Borneo in what has been described as a corporate land grab.

A BBC investigation has uncovered evidence of the latest jungle clearance – where vast tracts of land are being bulldozed to make way for plantations. Indigenous tribes say they are being driven from their lands. (more…)

April 14, 2010

Dayaks battle against gangsters and spin doctors

NONEBy Keruah Usit

Sarawak’s natives are fighting hired thugs to defend their Native Customary Rights (NCR) land. According to the Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (Brimas), an NGO campaigning for NCR, gangsters have been trying to intimidate Iban villagers who blockaded a road against a timber company on March 12.

Brimas says the Iban communities of Sungai Tepus, Balingian, midway between Sibu and Bintulu, have lodged three police reports against the loggers, Bitani Maju, but their NCR land has not been protected.

Instead, their blockade across the logging road has been removed by the police. Even worse, the villagers allege that a group of gangsters, traveling in ten cars, have been threatening them since the blockade began. (more…)

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