Sarawak’s new PKR leader, Baru Bian, has called time on the age of broken promises. “After four decades”, he says, “the people of Sarawak have learnt their lesson when it comes to believing the assurances of BN”.
The top lawyer, who has successfully defeated the State Government in a number of recent native landright cases, said BN’s outrageous record of lying to the electorate would be funny if it had not caused so much suffering.
“There is no one in Sarawak who has not experienced the impact of these decades of lies. Now is the time for all communities to unite so we can vote these BN parasites out and welcome a fairer future”.
Among the catalogue of false promises Bian referred to are the so-called ‘dividends’, which were promised to indigenous land owners pressured by the government into surrendering territory to oil palm plantations managed by BN cronies. Communities were enticed by the prospect of receiving a fair share of the profits, but in the event they have received virtually nothing.
In one case Baru Bian says he was “in utter disbelief, appalled and shocked” when he was called to represent a community which had been promised dividends from a plantation within four years in 1996. By 2009, over ten years later, they had still received nothing.
After he complained the company made the ridiculous excuse that it had still not made any profits, so there was nothing to share with the people. ’If oil palm makes no profit’, say critics, ‘how come BN are so eager to clear the jungle to grow more and more? And how come the managers of the plantations live in huge luxury mansions in Miri and Kuching, when the rightful owners of the lands have received nothing?”
Same problems elsewhere
Further ‘profit-sharing’ schemes spearheaded by the Chief Minister and his ruling BN party have left communities waiting for similar promised dividends all across Sarawak. Another example is the Iban community of Batang Ai. They too have seen scarcely more than a handful of ringits in return for handing their lands to SALCRA, the state plantation company managed by the Chief Minister’s closest allies.
Now the Ibans say they realise it was all just a trick to extract their land and the only people making money are BN cronies. “It was the biggest mistake of our lives to accept these BN promises by Taib Mamud” says one community member, who has now moved to Kuching. We have lost the lands we were living from and the only money people can make is 8MR a day working on the palm plantations. Who can prosper on that?”
Bakun communities just another example
The same lies have affected the Kenya and other communities, who were forced out of Bakun to make way for the new dam there. Like in Batang Ai, the compensation did not match the cost of their new homes and once again promises of free water and electricity have not been met. Worse, ten years on and very many people have still not even received their compensation! Now BN are trying to trick hundreds of thousands more people in the same way as they try to carry out their plans to build 12 further dams in native territories.
With an election looming, BN are up to their old tricks and making promises again. Officials have been visiting communities and making announcements that they will soon spend millions of ringits on helping the people of Sarawak. “Everyone knows that this means they are planning an early election”, says Baru Bian, “and everyone also knows after 40 years that they will not keep these promises, because they never do. Across the country there are clinics with no doctors and nurses, schools with not enough teachers and roads falling apart. But if PKR win the next election we will keep our pledge to make sure that the money belonging to the people of Sarawak is spent on them and not corrupt government cronies. We will also start to return the land to its rightful native communities”.
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To view PKR’s own promises Click here for their policy pledges.