VICTORY FOR SARAWAK DAMS CAMPAIGN: Hydro Tasmania is leaving Sarawak

With great joy, we can announce you that the 12-day Australia tour by an indigenous delegation from Sarawak's SAVE Rivers network will be coming to a victorious end tomorrow.

Roy Adair, the CEO of Hydro Tasmania, a state-owned Australian hydropower operator and consultant, said in a meeting with the Sarawak campaigners Peter Kallang and James Nyurang from SAVE RIVERS and with Peter John Jaban from Radio Free Sarawak on Monday that Hydro Tasmania will leave Sarawak by the end of 2013.

All four remaining Hydro Tasmania staff seconded to Sarawak Energy will be phased out over the next twelve months and not replaced. In the meantime, they will fulfill their "remaining contractual obligations".

Andrew Pattle, Senior Project Manager of the Murum dam construction and former project manager for the Baram 1 and Baleh dams, has already been withdrawn and will not be replaced.

In his own words, Adair said on Monday: "Our role is deminishing and there is no plan to replace our current secondees… our secondees are reducing to four at the end of this year and the others will be phased out over the next 12 months.” (transcript by Sarawak Report)

Adair's statement means a significant u-turn in Hydro Tasmania's position over the Sarawak dams which it still fiercely defended in a recent TV broadcast by Australia's SBS dateline show.

During our campaign, which was jointly led by Save Rivers, the Huon Valley Environment Centre and the Bruno Manser Fund, more than 5700 people have sent e-mails to Hydro Tasmania's Roy Adair, asking the Hydro Tasmania CEO to get out of Sarawak.

This result is a huge success and is giving Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud a big headache - the very reason why he recently accused the NGOs of "economic sabotage".

Thank you for your strong support to this cause and to a campaign that is far from over. You can still sign on to the petition to Hydro Tasmania, asking them to withdraw their staff with immediate effect: www.savesarawakrivers.com

After the departure of Hydro Tasmania, the campaign spotlight will focus on the role of Norwegian ex-pats and consultants in the Sarawak dams program, such as the Sarawak Energy CEO, Torstein Dale Sjøtveit, and Norconsult. Why are Sjøtveit and Norconsult involved in a project that Hydro Tasmania found unfit to support? And why are they not complying with international dam-building standards and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples?

Furthermore, the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission and Norway's corruption watchdog, Økokrim, will be pressured to deal with the corruption complaint against Torstein Dale Sjøtveit over his granting of projects to companies linked to Taib's son Mahmud Abu Bekir bin Taib.

As to the last stage of the Australia tour, it is noteworthy that Australian Greens Leader, Senator Christine Milne, has come out with another strong call for Hydro Tasmania to distance themselves from Sarawak Energy: www.youtube.com/watch?v=enip5030x2s
A similar statement by former Greens Leader and Senator Bob Brown, the champion of the Franklin River, can be accessed here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEPIC7ilU3Y

And tomorrow, Hydro Tasmania officials will be grilled in Parliament in Hobart over the reasons why the company got involved in the first place and why international standards were not applied with the Murum dam construction, in which Hydro Tasmania staff had a key role.

A great thank you to Peter Kallang and James Nyurang for their tremendous job accomplished during their tour to Australia and to Adam Burling and Jenny Weber from Tasmania for organizing such a momentous tour!


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




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