Construction works brought to a complete halt at Murum dam
Trucks supplying material for Murum dam blocked by 300 Penan and Kenyah
Two Sarawak organizations SCANE and SAVE RIVERS have released press statements with the latest update on the blockade of the Murum Dam: The Western Penan blockade against the 944 Murum dam construction by Sarawak Energy Bhd under its barefaced expatriate managers, CEO Torstein Dale SiÃ¸tveit (Norway), and project manager Andrew Pattle (Australia, on secondment by Hydro Tasmania), has meanwhile brought the dam construction works to a complete standstill. Chinese construction workers from China's Three Gorges Project Corporation have been instructed not to leave their camps. The blockade was started on 26th September 2012.
Government reports, according to which the blockade has been dismantled, are untrue and part of a deliberate disinformation campaign. Campaigners from the SAVE RIVERS Network have returned today from the blockade site to confirm that the blockade is still on.
SAVE Rivers: Murum blockade still on
MURUM â The Penans in Murum affected by the Murum Hydro-electric Power (HEP) Dam are still blockading the road leading to the construction site of the dam despite newspaper reports saying otherwise.
Raymond Abin, coordinator for Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (SCANE) confirmed today via telephone that the blockade in Murum is still on and the reports in the newspapers saying that the blockade has been lifted is false.
Raymond said, âLiwan Lagang did indeed tried to negotiate with the Penans to dismantle the blockade, however the Penans were not happy with him as he could not assure them in writing that the government would accede to their demands.â
According to Raymond, the Penans however, did agree to Liwan suggestion to not bring their children to the blockade site and with this some of the Penans brought their children back to their villages.
Liwan also invited a few Penans with him to Bintulu and then Kuching to meet and negotiate with government officials there.
It is here that Liwan told the press that the blockade has been lifted contrary to the report that Raymond gave.
âI met the elders and leaders in Murum yesterday and they are saying that the blockade is still on,â Raymond said.
âThey told me that only one headman accompanied the few members of the community to Kuching and that they are not in the position to make any decisions on behalf of the whole community,â added Raymond.
âThe Penans are still adamant with their demands to the government,â said Raymond.
Among their demands are 25 hectares of land for each of the 300 families affected by the dam; RM500,000 cash compensation for each family; 30,000 hectares of land to each of the nine villages; education fund for their children; community development fund for their community; and rights to land which are not flooded (islands created) by the dam.
On Monday, 8 October 2012, it was reported in the Borneo Post that the Penans in Murum have ended their 10 day blockade with the intervention of state assemblyman for Belaga, Liwan Lagang, who is also Sarawakâs Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage.
The Penans are from 8 villages, namely Long Wat, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu and Long Malim, which are located upstream, and Long Peran and Long Jaik in the downstream of the dam project site.
The Murum HEP will inundate and require the forced relocation of about 1,500 Penans as well as the 18 Kenyah-Badeng families in Long Umpa village near Long Malim in Danum River, the upper course of Murum River.
SAVE Rivers is again urging the government to listen to the plights of the Penans and is emphasising the need for the government to abide by the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which Malaysia has agreed to adopt at the United Nations.
SAVE Rivers note with great concern that the government has admitted through James Masing, Sarawakâs Minister of Land Development and now Liwan Lagang that there are a lot of weaknesses by the government in dealing with the Penans affected by the Murum HEP project.
SAVE Rivers is shocked to learn about the revelations written in the report from the leaked Murum Resettlement Action Plan for the natives to be displaced by the Murum Dam which can be found in the Sarawak Report website that explains how the impoverish Penans are neglected by the government and that the resettlement site is not suitable for them at all.
This is the very reason why SAVE Rivers is against the planned 11 dams which the state government is planning to build across Sarawakâs interior which will flood thousands of hectares of native customary land and displace thousands of indigenous peoples from their ancestral territories.
SAVE Rivers will continue to update on the situation of the blockade.
SCANE - Penan intensify blockade on Murum dam construction.
Murum, Belaga (5 Oct): The Penans are intensifying their blockade on Murum dam construction and against the Sarawak Energy Berhad with another linkage road to the dam site being blockaded yesterday. The road is going through an oil palm plantation, was an old logging which is narrow and passable by four-wheel drive vehicle only. Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) is using the road as an alternative route to the dam site for the past 3 days.
Since the Penans started the blockade last week, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) and other companies have stopped using the main access road to Murum dam project site. The major works on the construction of the dam have been paralyzed over the last one week. The drivers have left home and let their cement tankers, lorry trucks and trailers with building materials had been hauled over and park at the road side near the blockade site. The access to the construction site of Murum hydroelectric dam project is totally blocked on all directions with the setting-up of second road blockade by the Penans.
The number of Penans involved in the blockade has increased from 200 to 320 that comprised of people from eight Penan villages and a Kenyah-Badeng village of Long Umpa near Long Malim in Danum River. Within these few days more Penans are expected to join as most of them have completed planting their hill paddy farms.
The Penans are setting camps around the blockade site at Seping River Bridge, about 40 Km from Murum Hydroelectric dam project site. They are making makeshift huts âsulapâ covered with wild- ginger and palm leaves as well as plastic canvases. Those families came with their babies, young children and elderly parents are occupying an old logging camp workshop nearby the site. Some of them made their huts using the deposed old zinc sheets that they managed to salvage at the old logging camp site.
The Village Head of Long Luar, Madai Salo said that all his family members are involved in the road blockade. He came with his wife, sons and daughters together with his granddaughter of 2 months old.
Labang Paneh, a representative from Long Wat village stated that the blockade is a collective action of all the Penan villages affected by the construction of Murum dam project. âWe will not remove the blockade or move out of here until our demands are resolved and fulfilled by the governmentâ, he said.
The Village Head of Long Wat, Pinang Bo blamed the Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) for being disrespectful to the customs of the Penan community in Murum area. He said that SEB has intentionally destroying the most important Penanâs scared and historical sites of Batu Tungun, Batu Pebin and Batu Aseu at the project site and with lots more will be destroyed in due time by the construction of the dam.
The Penans reported that the Chinaâs Three Gorges Project Corporation and its Chinese contractor companies have told their Chinese workers not to leave their camps and the Murum dam construction site for fearing of safety and of any untoward incident with the locals.
As to maintain security, peace and order at the project area, the government has deployed some at least 20 police personnel from the General Armed Forces to the blockade site. Some of these police were stationed at the Murum dam construction site.
The blockade has entered its tenth day since it was started on 26th September by the Penans from the villages of Long Wat, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu and Long Malim, Long Peran and Long Jaik villages together with a Kenyah-Badeng village of Long Umpa.
The Penan communities are protesting against the negligence of the government to act and respond to their issues, problems and demands with regard to the construction of Murum dam project. They are also protesting against Sarawak Energy Berhad for being disrespectful to their customs by destroying their scared and historical sites without their consent.
The Sarawak Energy Berhad which is Sarawak Government owned Private Corporation has awarded the contract work of the Murum dam project to Chinaâs Three Gorges Project Corporation for an estimated cost of RM3 billion.
The progress of the construction work on the major structures of the dam is about 70% completed. When completed, the Murum dam will flood about 24,500 hectares of native customary rights land and forest of the Penan villages. The dam catchment area is 275,000 hectares which comprises of mainly Pelieran, Danum and Usun Apau Plateau, the ancestral land of the indigenous communities in Sarawak.
The Murum dam project is scheduled to be ready by 2013.
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