Malaysian minister accused of drowning his own constituency

Malaysian minister accused of drowning his own constituency

A lemming leader to be followed? - Jacob Dungau Sagan, Malaysian Deputy Minister of INternational Trade and Industry

(LONG ANAP, SARAWAK, MALAYSIA) Jacob Dungau Sagan, Malaysian Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry and Member of Parliament for Baram, is under increasing pressure over government plans to construct another mega dam in Sarawak’s Upper Baram region on Borneo. Villagers from his own birthplace, Long Anap, a Kenyah village situated on the banks of the Baram river, are accusing him of supporting government plans to drown his own constituency. “How can our own MP flood our ancestral lands, our grandparents’ graves, our schools and homes?”, a woman from Long Anap said. Another angry villager asked: “The government officials coming here usually promise that the dam will bring us development, but how can the destruction of our homes mean development?”

Jacob has always been a strong supporter of the corrupt Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib and has now even endorsed the construction of the controversial Baram dam, which would displace close to 20’000 indigeneous people in his constituency. The planned construction of the 1,000 MW Baram dam would set 26 Kenyah, Kayan and Penan villages under water and flood an estimated 412 km2 of farmlands and rainforests in Sarawak.

With resistance against the Baram dam plans growing among the indigenous population, it is increasingly unlikely people in Baram are willing to follow Jacob as their lemming leader. Several Long Anap villagers recently were unimpressed after seeing the Bakun dam impoundment and the resettlement site with their own eyes. “If they build the Baram dam, this will be the end of our lives”, a local commented. “It will create a human made Tsunami which will destroy everything: land, crop, churches, schools, graveyards… just everything.”

Last week, over 150 indigenous representatives had gathered in Miri, Sarawak, and called on Malaysian authorities to stall their dam plans. In an attempt to challenge the government over public support for such endeavours, they asked for a referendum over all further dam plans in Sarawak after the copmpletion of the Bakun dam, Asia’s largest dam outside China.

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Large dams can only serve as last resort, acknowledged the Malaysian Ministry of the Environment.




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