Was the Land Development Minister authorised yesterday when he confirmed all the criticisms about his Chief Minister’s mad dam projects and agreed with the opposition parties and campaigners that they aren’t all necessary?
If so, can the Chief Minister immediately and officially confirm on behalf of the Sarawak State Government that his plans for 8 of the 12 new mega-dams are now scrapped?
Masing was sounding off in an interview with the news agency AFP when he admitted that “We [the state government] need to refine our plans and think again”! He went on:
“It is not a firm plan to build 12 dams. I don’t think we will need that. We will only need four of them,”[AFP interview]
Is this new government policy? Until today Taib and his Ministers have insisted that all these dams are vital to their grand programme of industrialisation under the SCORE project. So, is SCORE now scrapped or scaled back?
In which case it is an unprecedented climb down in the face of public protest and a huge admission of incompetence by BN. But why have we only learnt of this back-tracking from an interview by a Minister to one journalist?
Why hasn’t Taib come to the DUN and spoken out in the proper place to this admission that SCORE is a total mess?
“We need to think again”
Or is it that we are seeing a major split in BN’s ranks as the realities of the revolt against SCORE have faced MPs travelling round to curry votes for the coming election?
Masing made clear in his typically frank interview that it is the popular reaction against the dam projects that is frightening BN politicians like him.
Defending their seats in front of voters who have been told they are to be flooded from their homes, they have started to realise that the normal bribes won’t work.
Yet there has been no sign so far that the arrogant Taib Mahmud is prepared to admit he was wrong or to step back. Just this week he came out and claimed that there wasn’t enough electricity even under the present plans and he would have to build more coal-fired power stations to provide the necessary electricity for SCORE while the dams were being finished!
How does that sit with Masing’s argument that only four dams are actually needed to meet Sarawak’s needs? “Not all we do is correct” he admitted, gently acknowledging the monumental error of his boss’s ill-founded SCORE project. But, what will Taib have to say about that?
Taib must accept or reject Masing’s claims
Sarawak Report believes that Taib will disown his henchman’s remarks. Otherwise he would have to accept that he is not such a top CEO after all. In any reasonable company he would have to resign.
And there is another problem with Masing’s sudden turnaround. Its a climbdown, but its not enough of a climbdown to win BN back voters. He is still claiming it is necessary to flood Baram and Baleh, which will wash tens of thousands from their homes.
In fact, politically, Masing has gone for the worst of all worlds. He has admitted BN’s policy is wrong, but he has refused to back down on the Baram Dam, so he will win plenty of derision but no friends for the government!
Even Taib can see that.
But once spoken Masing’s words can not be swept aside. Who can have confidence in a government that has indulged in such grandiose plans without proper consultation or expert advice?
Taib has spent millions setting up these plans and has been trying to raise billions in loans to entice industry all over the globe to come into Sarawak, so are these plans to be shelved and the money wasted?
And how about all the claims that have been made by Taib’s expensive Norwegian energy chief, who has been insisting to all the world that the 12 dams are vital and necessary to the development of Sarawak and are definitely going ahead? This despite the fact that none of the social or environmental impact assessments have been completed or any independent economic case been provided
Torstein Dale Sjotveit has been railing and complaining to numerous people that critical NGOs have been “telling lies” about the problems with the dam project and that the benefits are crucial for the people:
“I am proud of what I do in Sarawak, I believe what I do will benefit many generations of Sarawakiens. I am sorry to se that you are mislead by NGOs that has the campaign of lies” [Torstein Sjotveit]
So, what of Sjotveit’s plans now? The Norwegian had joined the Board of the International Hydropower Association on the basis that Sarawak is implementing one of the largest dam-building programmes the world has known and he has arranged for its 2013 Conference to be in Kuching.
Now that the dams are apparently to be scrapped will these industry players still be interested.
Perhaps they will pull out leaving the Borneo Convention Centre solely to the World Clown Convention that will be gathering there later this month, just as the election is due to be announced.
The clowns will make a change because so far all the comic turns are being carried out by BN.