Backing Out Of Bakun – Rio Tinto Pulls Out!

Backing Out Of Bakun – Rio Tinto Pulls Out!

27 Mar 2012

This post is also available in: Iban, Malay

Only two out of the eight turbines are working, there is no use for the electricity - and yet Taib and Hydro Tasmania are working flat out to build a string more of these destructive dams across all the rivers of Sarawak

The question marks over Taib’s pet mega-project, the billion dollar Bakun Dam, have just multiplied into a full-blown crisis for the so-called ‘CEO of Sarawak’.

The global mining company, Rio Tinto Alcan, has just announced that it is pulling out of the much-touted aluminium smelter venture, SALCO.

This was the flagship project, that was supposed to form the backbone of Taib’s plans to employ the huge surge of hydro-electricity from this enormous structure.

And it leaves the whole fantasy of the Chief Minister’s SCORE (Sarawak Corridor of Energy) concept and his plans to build yet 12 more huge dams hanging in tatters.

Bakun is fast turning into the monstrous white elephant that many had long feared it would.

So much suffering for no use

Floating homes - the Ukip people have returned to their flooded homelands rather than suffer displacement in refugee settlements

Over past weeks and months Sarawak Report has detailed some of the suffering and harm caused by the dam to ordinary people of Sarawak and Malaysia.

Quite apart from the environmental devastation caused by the logging and flooding of a pristine jungle area the size of Singapore and the disruption to the life of Sarawak’s greatest river, the project has brought nothing but misery to the local people.

Ten thousand were forced from their homes, in return for promises of compensation and jobs, which turned into dust once the land had been cleared.

Life is so bleak in the re-settlement zones that many of the native people have chosen to return to their old lands, clinging to the banks of the rising dam waters in their now floating homes.

While people suffered, local MP Billy Abit Joo profited !

And as we have exposed, many of the jobs and contracts presented as opportunities for local communities, were in fact corruptly taken over by hangers on and BN political cronies of the area, like the Federal MP Billy Abit Joo, who has became the main shareholder and beneficiary of the so-called ‘people’s cooperative’ Wargana Consortium.

Sarawak Report and other NGOs have been vigorously drawing attention to these outrages and such information will not have gone un-noticed by a company such as Rio Tinto Alcan, which is sensitive to the views of its western shareholders when it comes to human rights and environmental issues.

Why did Rio Tinto Alcan really pull out of SALCO?

The reason given for Rio Tinto Alcan’s decision to pull out of the planned US$2billion smelter was politely described as a failure to come to an agreement over the price of the electricity being offered from the Bakun Dam.

This is probably indeed a large part of the reason.  The conglomerate was tempted to pull out of its existing operations such as Canada, the UK and Australia as long as it could be guaranteed dirt cheap electricity.  However, what benefit was that to the people of Sarawak?

Key players in the SALCO project were Taib, Robert Geneid and CMS's Richard Curtis

The point of the dam was to make money!

In fact there is an urgent need to make money from Bakun, in order to somehow pay back the billions that have been siphoned out of the Employees Provident Fund and other Malaysian government pension schemes to build it.

If Bakun cannot get a decent price for its electricity, then those pensioners will lose out.

With the prospects looking grimmer by the day the ‘CEO of Sarawak’ and his BN buddies in the Federal Government are surely at last beginning to realise why no private investors were prepared to touch the project!

Failure! - Key players like CMS's Richard Curtis had put their hopes on winning this key project that would have poured money into Taib's family company!

So, maybe Rio Tinto Alcan’s demands for virtually free electricitywere too much even for Taib and his desperate team lead by brother-in-law, Robert Geneid, and CMS CEO, Richard Curtis, who had invested all their hopes in winning this bid?


We exposed how Australian Commissioner Miles Kupa had worked tirelessly to promote the Rio Tinto bid, despite its corrupt nature and the fact that it would undermine jobs in his own country! Did he think twice?

But, we suspect there was an even more compelling reason for Rio Tinto Alcan to come to the swift conclusion that they shouldn’t be touching Sarawak and its dodgy Chief Minister and his clique of BN cronies and family hangers-on with a barge pole.

That reason was the over-whelming stench of corruption that no amount of sweet talk and cover-up could conceal!

Sarawak Report comprehensively exposed the full scandal behind Taib’s plans to personally make billions out of the SALCO venture just last month.

Australian High Commissioner, Miles Kupa, may have been dragged in to support the bid and Rio Tinto Alcan executives may have flown into Kuching just a fortnight earlier to continue negotiations. However, once the cat was out of the bag that Sarawak’s own Chief Minister was standing to make hundreds of millions, if not billions, out of the carefully crafted deal, how could such supposedly respectable entities continue to be involved?

What use now for all Bakun's electricity? Maybe free electricity for the people of Sarawak!?

Sarawak Report received no response or comment from Rio Tinto Alcan or the Australian High Commissioner from its exposes into their involvement in the corrupted SALCO project, but sometimes actions speak louder than words.

This was not a project that RTA were going to find easy to explain to their shareholders.

Questions still remain about how it was that RTA were still actively negotiating on this clearly corrupted project as late as January this year?

This was long, long after company executives had realised that this was not a joint venture with the State of Sarawak, but with the family firm of the Chief Minister of Sarawak CMS!

More dams!

Sarawak's shame - refugees of Bakun. Taib might not care, but could Rio Tinto Alcan put up with this stain on their image as they profited from the dam?

And yet Taib Mahmud and his BN cronies are still forging ahead with all their plans to build a whole new swathe of dams once they have got the next election out of the way!

Another half million people flooded from their lands (once the wood has been conveniently extracted and the profits divided amongst them).  Why, when there is no use for the electricity?  Why, when neither the Bakun Dam nor even the far older Batang Ai dam are turning even half their turbines most of the time?

The reason is of course, as always, the prospect of profit for Taib Mahmud, who plans to borrow billions for these projects and for SCORE.  Billions of dollars that can be poured into his companies as he gets them involved in all the contracts for building the dams and involving foreign companies in cheap electricity projects (like the doomed SALCO venture).

It is the people of Sarawak who will have to find the money to pay all this borrowing back and they are unlikely to have any profit from these useless dams to help them.

So much for BN’s CEO of Sarawak!


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  • Dayang Rogayah
  • Judas Jala

    Very good fairy tale:

    Pemandu blames new measurement method for poorer graft score

    By Yow Hong Chieh, The Malaysia Insider, December 01, 2011

    KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — Malaysia’s corruption score would have improved to 4.5 if Transparency International (TI) had not included a new measure which dragged down overall performance, the government’s efficiency unit said today.

    “TI’s Bribe Payer Index (BPI) was conducted only in 28 countries. This is the 1st time this has been introduced into the CPI,” the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) said on its @gtp_roadmap Twitter account for its Government Transformation Programme (GTP) section that covers anti-graft programmes.

    “BPI is a new survey conducted to measure the propensity of Msians paying bribe to parties outside of Msia. If BPI was not taken into account, Msia’s score would jump to 4.5 and the country ranking would remain at 56.”

    Malaysia’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) score has worsened for the third consecutive year to 4.3 from 4.4 in 2010, according to a report released by TI’s Malaysian chapter today.

    Malaysia’s country ranking also fell to 60 out of 183 countries — between Saudi Arabia and Cuba — from 56 out of 178 last year.

    It remained the third-least corrupt nation in Asean after Singapore (9.2) and Brunei (5.2), with Thailand (3.4) and Indonesia (3.0) following in fourth and fifth places respectively.

    Pemandu also said Malaysia had increased scores in key surveys like the PERC Asian Intelligence Survey, WEF Executive Opinion Survey and Bertelsmann Transformation Index, which are aggregated into the CPI score.

    It promised Putrajaya would work harder to stamp out large-scale corruption after having achieved “encouraging” results in TI’s Corruption Barometer (CB), which measures public perception of graft.

    “On a day to day basis, while people continue to deal with petty corruption, many of these issues are being tackled,” it quoted chief executive Datuk Seri Idris Jala as saying.

    “Now, more than ever, the focus has to shift to dealing with grand corruption.”

    According to the CB, 49 per cent of Malaysians thought the government’s efforts to fight corruption were effective or very effective, up a touch from 48 per cent last year.

    However, the number of respondents who felt Putrajaya’s long-running battle against graft was ineffective or very ineffective rose five points to 25 per cent.

    Members of the public saw the police and political parties as the most corrupt institutions, with the police named as the most likely recipient of bribes in the past 12 months.

    TI’s CPI is an aggregate measure of the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist in the public sector which draws on 17 surveys and country assessments from 13 different independent institutions.

    Two-thirds of the 183 countries surveyed this year achieved a score of less than 5.0.

    New Zealand (9.5), Denmark (9.4), Finland (9.4), Sweden (9.3) and Singapore (9.2) were ranked the least corrupt nations in the world, while Somalia (1.0), North Korea (1.0), Myanmar (1.5) and Afghanistan (1.5) were the most corrupt.

  • Baleh Madman

    Stupidity got no limit apparently…


    Masing: If we tell you to walk backwards, do it

    by Keruah Usit, Malaysia Kini, Mar 28, 2012

    THE ANTIDOTE When most Malaysian cabinet ministers open their mouths to talk, you might not expect much in the way of reasoned debate or intelligent conversation.

    But James Masing, rejoicing under the stupendous title of Senior Minister (for land) in Abdul Taib Mahmud’s Sarawak cabinet, ought to be different.

    He has a PhD in anthropology. He was once a dissident, a leading light in the opposition Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS).

    PBDS was a ‘pan-Dayakism’ party that nearly toppled Taib in 1987, but then crumbled under the prolonged and canny pressure of Taib’s iron fist. Eventually, nearly all PBDS leaders were bought over to BN, by Taib’s promises of power and timber concessions.

    james masingMasing (right) himself has now been accused of profiting from his wife Corinne Bua Nyipa’s extraordinary good fortune. According to the website Sarawak Report, a gadfly to Taib’s cabinet, Masing’s wife enjoys a huge logging concession (although she has no obvious credentials as a lumberjack).

    She is a prominent shareholder and director of companies that have been showered with government contracts worth RM100 million to build roads and rural classrooms, and to run electricity generators in Kapit’s deprived schools.

    Sarawak Report has systematically exposed the skeletons in Taib’s cabinet in recent weeks. The website has run shocking stories on BN ministers and elected representatives, buried to their eyeballs in government largesse and conflict of interest.

    Perhaps this helps explain Masing’s outburst a fortnight ago. He told voters: “Jangan lawan tauke” – warning them not to go against the boss.

    Politics in reverse

    Masing later spoke out to defend his view, brandishing textbooks of political science. He insisted that elected representatives are ‘the bosses’ during the five or so years after each election.

    “The confusion, it appears, is on the role of the legislature – which is the elected representatives or YBs. All YBs are elected by the people/voters. During the polling day, the ‘rakyat’ (people) who have been registered as voters are the boss. The power is invested on the ‘rakyat’ by the legislature, to elect who should be the administrator/boss of their lives for the next five years,” he was quoted as saying by the Borneo Post.

    “Once they have elected their YBs or the administrators, the role changes. The elected representatives become the administrators/boss of the ‘rakyat’, while the ‘rakyat’ plays a subservient role and will seek assistance from the YBs from time to time.

    “If their YBs, for instance, pass a law which tells the ‘rakyat’ to walk backward, the ‘rakyat’ must walk backward… Within the period of five years, the elected representatives have the freedom to decide what is best for the ‘rakyat’. If one or two people feel being neglected by their administrators/YBs, they have to wait for five years to change their elected representatives.”

    As retired MP Sim Kwang Yang has pointed out before, Masing surely understands the principle of the social contract espoused by Locke, Rousseau and Hobbes.

    This is, of course, not the witless and racist “social contract” imposed on Malaya by the departing British. The social contract is a mutual agreement: the population gives up certain individual liberties to the state, in order that the government exists to provide security and services to the people.

    “A government is legitimate morally as long as it looks after the personal security, the prosperity, and the natural rights of citizens,” Sim wrote in 2009, in an open letter to Masing.

    “When that government fails in its duty to the governed, then the people have the right to change the government – by a revolution even, according to Locke.”

    In his erudite history ‘The Age of Revolution’, Eric Hobsbawm remarked on the ‘birth certificate’ of modern democracy in the French Revolution – the seminal constitution established by the Jacobin regime in 1793.

    “The people were offered universal suffrage, the right of insurrection, work or maintenance, and – most significant of all – the official statement that the happiness of all was the aim of government and the people’s rights were to be not merely available but operative,” Hobsbawm observed.

    Distraction by hyperbole

    Two centuries later, Masing continues to pretend modern democracy begins and ends with regular elections every five years, where votes are paid for out of the taxpayers’ own money.

    Masing gets full marks for using highly publicised, overtly stupid political statements, in an attempt to deflect attention away from the torrent of Sarawak Report articles exposing the huge contracts awarded to companies fronted by wealthy ministers’ families.

    But can this smokescreen hide the allegations of corruption indefinitely?

  • 1corruptgangster

    NAZIb is fulfilling his legacy for being One of Malaysia Best One 1asshole, 1Crony,1gangster , 1Racist but many flip flop!

    But it is sad ti say Sarawak deserve to be sink in the 1crony made lake. There is a PAttern. One 1Crony had rape the virgin rainforest and profited, they cover the crime scene with water with more profit. Just look at their master of C4 on how to cover up the 1Subgate!

    The people of Sarawak deserve to be dam-ned ! They chose their 1Crony for a few dollar more but lose a livelihood. They simply deserve it!

    But if they be redeem if they go to the poll to vote the people who has the tendency to be uncorrupted! Chosing BN component who for 50 years of corrupt culture and get burn after election is simply too deserving to be in this dilemma.

    However most native ignore this when money is in front of them and will only cry when they have been cheated by well known corrupts!