Natives speak out against leader who supports mega-dam
450 Baram natives are calling their leaders to account
450 natives protested against their community leaders, who are supporting the construction of Baram dam in the interior of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, last Monday. Baram dam would flood 400km2 of rainforest and farmland and displace 20,000 natives.
Sarawak Energy, a Malaysian power supplier, is developing the project with support from international experts: a Norwegian, Torstein Dale Sjotveit, is the CEO of Sarawak Energy and the Australian consultancy company Hydro Tasmania has advised Sarwak Energy on technical issues and seconded several staff to Sarawak Energy.
The attached press release of SAVE Rivers shows that the Baram dam is not supported by the local people. A local leader, who claimed that Baram dam has the collective support of all people from Baram, was taken to court for lying.
Baram villagers showed displeasure towards their Community Chiefs for supporting the proposed Baram Dam in Long Lama
LONG LAMA, BARAM â About 450 villagers made up of different ethnic groups from all over Baram gathered at a normally sleepy town of Long Lama on 29 October 2012 to demonstrate peacefully and show their displeasure towards some of their community leaders for supporting the proposed Baram Hydro Electric Project (HEP).
Banners and placards stating Stop Baram Dam and Stop Mega Dams were unfurled during the demonstration followed by cries from the villagers to call on the government and the relevant authorities to listen to their pleas.
The demonstration started at around 10.00 am, outside the Long Lama Sub-District Office and then the villagers proceeded to march around town shouting slogans âStop Baram Damâ in the different ethnic Orang Ulu dialects.
Police presence in Long Lama was heavy including a police helicopter flying overhead scanning the situation on the ground. It was learnt that there were about 100 police personnel assigned with also a few riot police being mobilised. However, no untoward incident happened and the demonstration proceeded smoothly with the crowd only dispersing about an hour later.
A reliable source also mentioned that the crowd could have been bigger but certain timber camp managers around Baram told their employees not to come down to Long Lama town.
Philip Jau, Chairman of Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC) addressed the crowd saying that the majority of the people in Baram reject the proposed Baram HEP and the community leaders should not be made used by certain politicians in the government with vested interest.
âOur Ketua Masyarakat (Community Leaders) should stand strong and listen to the peoplesâ concerns instead of being easily manipulated by politicians with vested interest in this project. Do not abuse our community leaders,â Philip said.
Supporters of Temenggong Pahang numbering about 90 people did a counter demonstration inside the Long Lama Sub-District Office. The 90 people comprised mostly headmen and community leaders including Senator Lihan Jok and the State Assemblymen for Telang Usan, Dennis Ngau.
Prior to the demonstration, the Native Court presided by a Community Chief, Penghulu Lenjau Kuleh heard the case brought by Dorus Katan from Long Tap, Akah against another
Community Chief of the Orang Ulu Community, Temenggong Pahang Deng for violating the Adet or customs of the Kayan-Kenyah community for lying.
The Native Court proceedings was initiated by Dorus after failing to get Temenggong Pahang to retract his statement in the Borneo Post article dated 18 May 2012 under the headline âCommunity Support for Baram Dam, A Federation of Orang Ulu Association Malaysia delegation conveys backing for project at a meeting with state leadersâ.
In the article, Temenggong Pahang was quoted as saying that âAfter initial misgivings, the people who will be affected by the Baram Hydro Electric Project (HEP) have collectively agreed to give their support to its implementation.â
This statement according to Dorus is wrong, false and misleading and have created a lot of confusion and anger among the majority of the Orang Ulu community in Baram.
The case however, was struck out due to a technicality.
According to Dorus, he will review the Courtâs decision by consulting legal experts and will decide soon on the next course of action.
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