Norwegian energy company refuses dialogue with Sarawak natives over dams
(OSLO / NORWAY) John Nyheim, the CEO & President of Norconsult, a leading Norwegian energy consultancy firm, refuses to meet with a delegation of Borneo natives who are currently in Norway to protest against the displacement of over 20,000 people and the flooding of hundreds of square miles of tropical forests in the Malaysian state of Sarawak.
In a letter to the Norwegian NGO, FIVAS, Nyheim wrote that Norconsult will not take part in public discussions about Sarawak's dam plans nor disclose information on the company's involvement in the controversial Malaysian energy projects. However, Nyheim confirmed that Norconsult was providing "technical and engineering services" to Sarawak Energy Bhd, a state-owned Malaysian power provider.
Nyheim justified Norconsult's stance by claiming that Sarawak Energy "has not been convicted on any allegations of corruption or malpractice in the past and that there is no ongoing or pending litigation". However, Nyheim failed to mention the massive protests against Sarawak Energy's dam plans. Since last October, blockades of the Baram dam construction site by indigenous communities have brought the works to a standstill.
Peter Kallang, Chairman of Sarawakâs Save Rivers network said: "It is a disgrace that Norconsult are ready to assist Sarawak Energy in flooding our lands and in displacing thousands of indigenous people but they are not even willing to meet and listen to us."
Kallang is heading a three-person-delegation of Borneo natives currently travelling through Europe to build up support for Sarawak's anti-dams movement. Starting from tomorrow, Kallang and his colleagues will meet with Norwegian government officials, MPs and the Sami Parliament to discuss the Norwegian indigenous people's experience with the Alta dam project back in the 1970s.
With its 2,550 employees and an annual revenue of 3.2 billion NOK (US$ 539 million), Norconsult is one of Northern Europeâs largest engineering and design consultancies.
On their company website, Norconsult are stating that their newly established Malaysian subsidiary NorPower Sdn Bhd has signed several contracts for hydropower porjects with Sarawak Energy, including the controversial Baram, Baleh, Pelagus and Murum dams.
The Bruno Manser Fund condemns Norconsultâs unacceptable stance and calls on the company to close down its operations in Sarawak.
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