We, the above stated organizations are responding to the CEO of Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) Datuk Torstein’s statements (published in the Borneo Post on 1st Feb. 2015). In the article referred Torstein was defending the flooding of hundreds of square kilometres of forests and the homesteads of thousands of people in order to generate electricity for the heavy industries of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) With all due respect, we are raising the following contentions:
SEB asserts that resettlement of people affected by dams can lead to improved livelihoods. However, to date, SEB has yet to demonstrate they can manage resettlement in a way which respects fundamental principles outlined in the human rights treaties to which Malaysia is a signatory or the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and leaves affected families better off than before. For example, the Penan and Kenyah displaced by the Murum Dam have yet to learn where land allocations they’ve been promised are located, and still have no access to any local schools or a health clinic that can serve their needs. Meanwhile, the skilled workforce for Murum is largely imported from abroad.
Without such basic infrastructure in place in Murum and no opportunities for dignified work, it is deceptive and disingenuous for SEB to claim that there would be livelihood improvements based on their track record at Murum. SEB and Torstein must be reminded that it is morally, socially, ethically and legally obliged to respect the rights of indigenous peoples who are affected or to be affected by its proposed mega HEP dams projects, particularly where the people have persistently expressed their objection and total rejection of such project. To ignore and disregard such stand taken by the people reflects total disrespect of their inherent rights and a deliberate attempt by the SEB and its management to sow discrimination and instill ill-feelings, enmity and vengeance on the local people.
If Torstein, a Norwegian citizen, genuinely intend to help Sarawak develop, why is he willing to recklessly risk the lives and wellbeing of thousands of Sarawakians in order to benefit a few, flouting the precautionary principle, which is accepted worldwide as best practice in public and international law?
Together, we assert that we can build a future in which there are still free-flowing rivers for our children and the coming generations to enjoy, a future that is forward-looking by relying primarily on alternative energies and not on the inundation of vast expanses of forest as well as lands protected and defended by their rightful owners. Not only would such a future benefit all living in Sarawak, but also stand as a model for Malaysia and the world.
For queries please contact – Peter Kallang on +6013 – 833 1104