“Our Secret Society”
At Miri’s Public Forum on Damming the Baram River, 6th March, Sarawak’s new, high-profile PKR leader, Baru Bian, attacked the dishonest and alarming secrecy of BN’s dealings with China over the planned construction of 12 new dams in Sarawak.
He reminded the audience that the entire mult-billion ringit project had been concealed for years by the Chief Minister. Taib Mahmud only admitted that the initial Murum Dam had already long been under construction, after details were exposed by mistake on a Chinese company website. The work, including tunnels through mountains, had been carried out by Chinese workers, hidden deep in the jungle!
Bian, Sarawak’s leading human rights lawyer, denounced the Chief Minister’s arrogant excuse that these decisions are for the government only to make and reminded him that he has flagrantly broken the law by these secretive actions.
“The Government has the fiduciary duty to ensure that the ordinary peoples are not unnecessarily displaced and put in a worst position then they were before. It is therefore necessary that the Government must first carry out a free, fair and informed prior consultation with the affected communities. No such consultation was ever done in the planning of these dams”, he thundered.
No Benefit to the People
An overwhelming number of critics sincerely doubt that Taib Mahmud could ever show that the dam project will benefit more than a handful of rich government cronies in Sarawak. Meanwhile, the environment will be devastated.
“The question being asked by all reasonable men is whether we need 12 more dams in Sarawak today”, Bian explained, “more so when our state government has just announced it may not proceed with the plan to transfer the power to mainland Malaysia”.
Mahmud’s decision to drop his original idea of an undersea cable to Malaysia is clearly based on the fact that the plan was always founded on fantasy – the technology still does not exist! The aging kleptocrat is now relying on his substitute SCORE project to justify the dams instead. This is an equally far-fetched factory building programme, aimed at using up the huge quantities of energy due to be generated by these dams.
Alternative strategy by PKR opposition party
However, Baru Bian has pointed out that the real, pressing electricity needs in Sarawak today are for basic domestic supplies to be connected to rural communities and for generators for more isolated longhouses. Taib’s grandiose, self-enriching dam projects promise only more misery for 600,000 impoverished native people, who are due to be displaced.
Those people already displaced by existing dams, such as Bakun, have faced nothing but hardship, despite BN promises of progress and development. So it is no wonder they have tried, illegally, to keep their latest plans quiet.