Hornbill Unleashed

December 12, 2013

‘God made this land for us, the devil has taken it’: Sarawak dams its people


There is a sober lesson in the Bakun dam saga for other communities along the Sarawak river and elsewhere in south-east Asia, writes freelance journalist Jenny Denton.

In the hinterland of Borneo an old lady is perched on a couch improvising into a microphone. A chorus of about 50 people, cross-legged on the floor around a small amplifier, chimes in at the end of each line with a harmonic drone.

“God made this land for us to enjoy,” the old woman sings. “But the devil, through Taib Mahmud, has taken it away.” The group erupts into laughter at the characterisation of Sarawak’s Chief Minister as the agent of the Devil and the skilful rhyming it has been phrased with. (more…)

November 15, 2013

Bakun’s Sg Asap re-settlers sue govt

Winston Way

The natives want the government to pay interest on delayed payment of compensation.

Residents of the Bakun Resettlement Scheme (BRS) in Sungai Asap and Sungai Koyan in Belaga, Kapit have filed a suit against the Sarawak government for failing to pay interest on the compensation for the loss of their original longhouses.

They named the Kapit Land and Survey Department superintendent and the Sarawak government as the first and second defendants. (more…)

November 14, 2013

Let’s unite to support dam blockades in Sarawak

Kua Kia Soong

If the income generated by the dams is below what is predicted, we will have to step in and pay back the loans that were provided to Sarawak Energy Berhad.

What have the blockades by the Sarawak indigenous people against the mega dams to do with West Malaysian tax payers?

Aside from solidarity with the indigenous peoples whose native customary lands have been taken over for the construction of the mega dams and the destruction of more of our rainforest heritage, there is plenty for Malaysian tax payers to worry about. (more…)

November 9, 2013

Virginity of ex-wife to Taib’s son questioned during RM400m trial

Shahnaz Abdul Majid arrives at Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court.— Saw Siow FengBOO SU-LYN

  • Shahnaz Abdul Majid arrives at Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court.

The ex-wife to the son of Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud was asked at the Syariah court here today whether she was a virgin when she married him.

At the retrial of Shahnaz Abdul Majid’s RM400 million divorce from Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Abdul Taib, the latter’s lawyer, Saadiah Din, also asked Shahnaz if she had cooked and cleaned at their matrimonial home. (more…)

Stop all works on Sarawak dams, urge groups


A group of 80 NGOs and social activists are urging that all works related to the Baram and Murum dams in Sarawak cease immediately until ‘open and fair’ consultations have taken place with the local community.

In particular, they want the Sarawak state government-related corporations, contractors and agents to stop the impoundment at Murum Dam and arson of nearby Penan communities.

Meanwhile at Baram Dam, the groups demanded that the work related to the survey and construction of the planned dam stop. (more…)

Baram natives sue Taib, state govt

FMT Staff

Affected by the proposed land acquisition for the dam, they are questioning the constitutionality of Section 5(3) and 5(4) of the Sarawak Land Code.

Natives from Long Na’ah and Long Kesseh in Baram are suing Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and the state government over the proposed Baram dam project which will eventually drown their ancestral and communal land.

They have named Taib in his capacity as Minister of Resource Planning and Environment and the state government as first and second defendants respectively. (more…)

October 24, 2013

Villagers stage blockades to stop Baram dam

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 6:40 AM
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One of the blockades staged by villagers on the road to the proposed Baram dam site.

Ng Ai Fern
  • One of the blockades staged by villagers on the road to the proposed Baram dam site.

Villagers from Baram in Sarawak’s interior today staged two blockades to stop contractors from carrying out any initial quarrying work on the proposed Baram dam, one of the 12 hydroelectric dams planned by the state.

The blockades – one on the access road to the proposed dam site and the other near the proposed dam site – were manned by some 200 people from over 20 villages affected by the Baram Hydroelectric Project.

“Tomorrow the villagers will go inside the proposed dam site to chase the Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) staff and contractors away,” Peter Kallang, chairman of the SAVE River civil society coalition, told fz.com. (more…)

October 10, 2013

State asked to run cost-benefit analysis on dams


A view of the Murum Dam.

The state has been called on to run a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis on the proposal to implement large dam projects.

This is a systematic process for calculating and comparing benefits and costs of a project to determine if it is a sound investment and to provide a basis for comparing projects.

“It involves comparing the total expected cost of each option against the total expected benefits, to see whether the benefits outweigh the costs, and by how much,” explained Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How in a press statement. (more…)

October 4, 2013

Govt paid US$133mil for Bakun Dam delays

Filed under: Dams,Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Two contractors suffered delays of up to four years in civil engineering works, causing their costs to spike.

The government agreed to pay US$133 million (RM430 million) in compensation to two foreign contractors for losses incurred in the problem-plagued Bakun Dam, an audit has revealed.

The compensation, revealed in the Auditor-General’s annual report, is a rare official acknowledgement of problems in a highly controversial project that Transparency International once labelled a “Monument to Corruption”.

The report submitted to parliament yesterday said two contractors suffered delays of up to four years in civil engineering works, causing their costs to spike. (more…)

September 12, 2013

Penans move to new homes

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Native communities affected by the Murum hydroelectric project have begun the shift to their new homes in the resettlement scheme in Tegulang, upstream Bakun

BELAGA: Eighty-nine Penan families from Long Wat who are affected by the impoundment of the Murum hydro electric project (HEP) have been relocated to a new village resettlement scheme in Tegulang.

Tegulang is in upstream Bakun and according to Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang the new village’s location was ‘chosen’ by the Penans themselves.

“The site of the new homes was selected by the affected residents during a SEIA (Social and Environmental Impact Assessment) process. (more…)

September 10, 2013

Open Letter To Najib Razak – Stop Taib’s Abuse Of The Murum Penan

Sarawak Report

Progress? Taib made billions out of their timber and lands and is now making billions from Murum Dam. Yet these Penan have been forced to live in a converted chicken coop at Sungai Asap.

Dear Prime Minister – As you know, Malaysia voted in favour of the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights (UNDRIP) and is a signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

Malaysia is also a member of the International Finance Corporation (formulator of the World Bank’s sustainability  framework) and Sarawak Energy is a Board Member of the International Hydropower Association, which has produced a protocol governing the building of dams. (more…)

July 9, 2013

Rights of owners of NCR land on islands in Bakun recognised

Peter Sibon and James Ling @theborneopost

TO BE GAZETTED: A view of some of the islands in Bakun HEP Dam.

The government will safeguard the rights of the people in Belaga whose Native Customary Rights (NCR) land are affected by the move to gazette 18 islands in Bakun HEP dam.

The assurance came from Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang who said his office will welcome those who need assistance.

“If your NCR land is affected by the gazette, please come and see me,” said Liwan who is also Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage.


July 7, 2013

In another blow, Bakun to be gazetted as national park

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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Lee Way Loon

The indigenous people from Bakun, Sarawak, may face yet another blow after they were forced to leave their homeland some 15 years ago to make way for a controversial hydropower dam project.

A notice has been issued by the state government in an attempt to gazette their homelands as the ‘Bakun Islands National Park’.

In the notice, which was published in the local newspaperBorneo Post last Tuesday, Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud has listed 18 islands within the Bakun dam area to be gazetted as the national park. (more…)

June 29, 2013

Torstein Keeps Sarawak In The Dark – SEB’s RM30 Billion Outstanding Charge

Sarawak report

Of course this is daily life for the many in Sarawak that SEB has not bothered to reach so far

The State of Sarawak is just recovering from hours plunged in darkness, a situation that threatened countless lives.

Sarawak Electricity boss Torstein Dale Sjotveit has now issued a personal apology, admitting the blackout was triggered by the new Bakun Dam hydro-electric plant, which is supposed to be powering  through a dramatic modernisation programme.

Since he is unable to identify the problem so far, this will do little to reassure sceptics of his grandiose project to build several more mega-dams across the rainforest state, with the proclaimed intention of turning Sarawak into an industrial zone. (more…)

May 20, 2013

Kuching Conference Threatens Image Of International Hydropower Association

Sarawak Report

Millionaire Tostein Sjotveit poses with the kids he plans to wash out of their homes.

The Chief Executive of Taib’s closely controlled Sarawak Energy Board, the Norwegian Torstein Dale Sjotveit, has been working hard to merit his extraordinary four million dollar a year salary.

His principle job is to push through SCORE, which is the Chief Minister’s monstrous plan to build up to 50 dams in the state.

It is also to make sure that all the plum Sarawak Energy contracts go to Taib’s own family in the process.

Building ‘respectability’ (more…)

April 29, 2013

Sungai Asap – BN’s Final Betrayal..

Sarawak Report

Floating church – one of the buildings that the tragic natives of Bakun have tried to save from their flooded communities..

Sarawak Report has received secret maps revealing that a planned BN announcement of land allocations for the displaced families of Sungai Asap is merely a sham.

The maps show that the 32,000 hectares that BN are proposing to offer in a pre-election gambit to win back votes are in fact gazetted as Pesu-Pelong Protected Forest Area and already belongs to other communities!

The region comprises the established Native Customary Rights Lands of three Kayan communities and also, it is believed, of one Punan community. (more…)

April 9, 2013

Don’t believe BN promises, natives told

Joseph Tawie

Thus far the Sarawak government has failed to meet promises made to resettle natives in Batang Ai and Bakun, says a local NGO.

Sungai Asap, where 10,000 natives of Belaga were resettled after they succumbed to the promises of the Sarawak administration in regards to the Bakun Dam is almost empty these days.

About 7,000 settlers have left the resettlement scheme in search of a better living elsewhere. (more…)

March 15, 2013

Bakun resettlement issues: Taib blames Putrajaya

Joseph Tawie

Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has admitted that the government had made mistakes during the implementation of the Bakun Hydroelectric Dam project.

Why is the Sarawak government meeting with and talking to community leaders and representatives who are neither from Baram nor affected by the proposed hydroelectric dam project?

Asking this pertinent question, Save Sarawak Rivers Network (Save Rivers), a local coalition of NGOs here, said in a recent dialogue with Chief Minister Taib Mahmud that only one representative, Lucas Kallang, was from the affected village Long Julan.

The rest, Save Rivers said, were “not directly affected” by the proposed hydroelectric dam. (more…)

December 5, 2012

Living Like “Tarzan”, “Poachers” And “Cavemen”! – SEB Man’s Outburst Against Sarawak Natives

Sarawak Report

Idris Buang – foot-in-mouth spokesperson for SEB

Freedom of information requests in Australia have recently brought to light the full, unedited interview of SEB Board Member and spokesman, Idris Buang, by the TV programme Dateline, about Sarawak’s mega-dam plans.

And his arrogant and incautious remarks, which disparage the native way of life of many of Sarawak’s indigenous tribes, have brought gasps of amazement and outrage.

Among a series of slurs, he says on behalf of SEB: (more…)

November 28, 2012

Use UN treaties to save Baram, says Suhakam

K Pragalath

Commissioner Nayagam accepts a memorandum from a group trying to stop the construction of a controversial dam.

Suhakam today proposed to opponents of the Baram Dam that they fight their case in court using United Nations treaties that Malaysia has signed.

Addressing members of the Baram Protection Action Committee, commissioner James Nayagam said they should try to obtain a court injunction against the controversial project. (more…)

November 27, 2012

Clean Energy? Sarawak’s Dirty Dam Projects Set Up A Stink!

Sarawak Report

Putrid and dangerous – there is nothing clean about the waters of the Bakun Dam or the corruption that swills round Sarawak’s dam projects.

The people advising Sarawak Energy (SEB), in particular Australia’s Hydro Tasmania, have taken every opportunity to portray the dams planned for Sarawak as a ‘clean’ and ‘sustainable’ energy source.

Hydro Tasmania in fact frequently implies that dams are “carbon neutral” and has declared that the company itself will become a “carbon neutral company” by the end of this year, after decommissioning gas powered electricity plants.

However, representatives of the growing anti-dam movement in Sarawak are touring Australia with a very different story. (more…)

November 24, 2012

No safe water, food for displaced Bakun natives

Joseph Tawie

For the displaced natives in Bakun, Sarawak, its a case of ‘water, water everywhere, nary a drop to drink’.

All sorts of woes are bedevilling the people living on their “jelatong” houses which are floating on the Bakun dam lake. Their woes range from a foul smell emanating from rotting organic matter submerged at the bottom of the dam to the river’s declining biodiversity and lack of safe drinking water.

The foul rotten egg-like smell is indicative of the presence of hydrogen sulfide and reports of high turbidity and low pH levels are killing off fish life in the dam and tributaries. (more…)

November 21, 2012

The BMF scandal revisited: Seeking the truth

KL Lau

In October,1984, I wrote an article under the heading, “BMF loan scandal – When will we ever learn ?”

It was published in an edited version, in The Star on October 15, 1984, under the heading, “BMF: Have we really learnt our lesson?”

At the same time, a copy of an unedited version was also extended to most of the Ministers in the Cabinet the Governor of Bank Negara at the material time.

In the concluding paragraphs of the unedited version, I wrote: (more…)

November 14, 2012

James Masing tells clean energy activists to ‘stop breathing’

Bakun dam during construction. Photo by: Mohamad Shoox.mongabay

Bakun dam during construction. Photo by: Mohamad Shoox.

A top minister in the Malaysian state of Sarawak has told activists campaigning for cleaner energy to ‘stop breathing’, reportsThe Borneo Post.

“I would like to throw a challenge at them (critics) on two fronts,” Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing told the newspaper. “Firstly, please provide us with the best source of alternative power besides fossil fuel, and secondly, they have to stop breathing if they criticize just for the sake of criticizing.” (more…)

October 14, 2012

Murum resettlement land ‘taken’ by plantations

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 1:07 PM
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Whistle-blower website Sarawak Report has claimed that the two areas earmarked for the resettlement of 1,417 natives affected by the Murum hydroelectric dam project had been taken over by palm oil plantations.

“Maps already show that the poor quality lands that have been chosen for the two so-called resettlement zones of Tengulan and Metalun have already been taken over by oil palm plantations,” it said, based on map comparison of the resettlement area published in the Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) for the Murum dam project.

According to Sarawak Report, the RAP also revealed that contrary to proper procedures, the Social Impact Assessment (SIA) had only been conducted after the Murum dam project commenced. (more…)

October 12, 2012

Feedback on plight of Penans affected by Murum dam sought

Sulok Tawie

Liwan says the two sites were identified by the Penans themselves

The Sarawak State Planning Unit (SPU) is calling on the public and interested parties to submit written comments and suggestions on the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) Report on the proposed Metalun Resettlement and Tegulang Resettlement sites for the Penans affected by the Murum dam.

SPU is also asking for comments and suggestions on the Murum Service Centre.

The construction of the RM3 billion dam, about 75km upstream from the RM7.5 blllion Bakun dam, has attracted much international attention, especially from non-governmental organisations, as it will displace about 1,500 Penans from eight villages and Kenyahs from another village, in Belaga district. (more…)

Plight of Penans is our shame

Himanshu Bhatt

WHILE most Malaysians, particularly those in the peninsula, have been going on with their daily routines over the last few weeks, few may be aware or have taken any real bother for a human tragedy that is taking place in a deep remote forest of Sarawak.

Those of us who have been keeping up with news reports by theSun’s assiduous Sarawak correspondent, Sulok Tawie, may have taken note of the immensely grave situation in the Belaga district, where the Murum dam is being built. The artificial reservoir is expected to swamp an equatorial rainforest about the size of Penang island.

Even as you read this, hundreds of men, women and children from the Penan tribe are fearlessly continuing their blockades of access roads to the project area, to prevent construction vehicles and crews from further clearing the vast forest. (more…)

August 9, 2012

Taib Grabs Yet More Billions Out Of Sarawak’s Destruction!

Sarawak Report

Why? – Australia’s Miles Kupa has been assisting key deals between O M Holdings and Sarawak

Australia’s support for Taib Mahmud’s SCORE project is becoming ever more deeply questionable, as the corruption surrounding every project in which it has sought to be involved gets plainer by the day.

The message should be coming through clear by now.  If you do business with Taib Mahmud’s Sarawak then you are immersing yourself in a world of bribery, backhanders and theft from the people of Borneo.

So it is time for a re-think surely for Miles Kupa, Australia’s High Commissioner ? (more…)

August 3, 2012

Jacob misleads Baram folks on dam: NGOs

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) and Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC) take to task the MP for Baram over a “preposterous” statement about the Baram Dam project.

With reference to the statement by Baram MP Jacob Dungau Sagan that appeared in The Borneo Post (26 July 2012) headlined ‘Govt follows requirements on dam construction’, we in Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) together with the Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC) would like to make the following statement.

We find Jacob’s statement to be preposterous and it is irresponsible of him as an elected representative of the people of Baram to say that the Government would not flood its own people. (more…)

July 1, 2012

Slow death by aluminum smelters?

Filed under: Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
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The aluminium smelting plant. (Source: unireka.com)

Gan Pei Ling

WHILE green activists in Peninsular Malaysia are protesting the rare earth refinery that has yet to begin operations in Gebeng, Pahang, villagers living near an aluminium smelting plant in Balingian, Mukah, Sarawak, have been suffering in silence.

Documentary filmmaker and former TV2 producer Chou Z Nam has highlighted the Iban villagers’ plight in four short videos, all available on YouTube, and a report after a field visit in February 2012. Chou is well-known for his documentaries on the Bakun Dam and its impact on local communities. His Bakun Dam documentaries were axed by RTM and he was sacked after disclosing the self-censorship. (more…)

March 16, 2012

6,000 Swiss sign anti-dam petition

Filed under: Dams,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 6:09 PM
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Joseph Tawie

Malaysia and Swiss activists protested outside the UN office in Geneva against Sarawak’s plan to build 12 hydro-electric dams.

Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian has thrown his support behind a global effort by environmental activists from Switzerland and Malaysia to protest to the United Nations against the Sarawak government’s plans to construct 12 hydro-electric dams.

Bian, who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman, was responding to the efforts of activists to handover a petition bearing 6,000 signatures to the Malaysian representative to the United Nations. The petition called for a halt to the dam plans.

Thanking the Swiss people for their support, Bian said: “We give 100% support to the efforts of both the international environmental activists and their Malaysian counter-parts to pressure the state government of Sarawak and Malaysia to halt the dam construction. (more…)

February 22, 2012

Malaysian indigenous leaders launch campaign against plans for a 12 dam mega-complex





Malaysian indigenous leaders launch campaign against plans for a 12 dam mega-complex

Representatives from affected communities in Sarawak, Malaysia gathered to kick off their campaign against 12 planned dams in Sarawak with a demand for consultation and a public referendum. (more…)

February 17, 2012

NGO: Map shows extent of Baram dam’s devastation

BMF – Malaysiakini

“According to the map based on intelligence and calculations by the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), the 162 meter high Baram dam would flood a rainforest area of 412 square km (41,200 hectares) and at least 26 indigenous villages, causing the displacement of up to 20,000 Sarawak natives…A Swiss based NGO has released what they call a “secret map” that paints the picture of the environmental devastation that the proposed Baram dam in Sarawak will cause.

“While the Sarawak government has started legal procedures to extinguish native rights for an access road to the dam site, the affected communities are deliberately being kept in the dark over the extent of the dam plans,” read BMF’s statement yesterday. (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 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.

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.

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