Miri – One hundred and seventy people from Baram were at the resettlement areas of Sungai Aspa and Tegulang in the Belaga District on a two days visit from 13th to 14th of July 2014. The social call was to allow the Baram group to see the resettlement areas and listen to the experience of those who had to resettle in making way for the two Hydroelectricity Power (HEP) dams at Bakun and Murum. Based on plan by the government and the state owned Sarawak Energy Bhd.(SEB), one of the eleven dams which are going to be built after Murum dam is the Baram 1 dam.
The proposal for building Baram One HEP has met with a lot of resistance on the ground but some politicians and SEB are working hard to promote the dam in various ways including making attractive promises. To verify the truth in the promises by the dam proponents, the Baram folks went to the resettlement areas of Sunga Asap (resettled in 1998 to make way for Bakun) and Tegulang (resettled in 2013 to make way for the Murum dam). It was a fact finding mission for the Baram folks. The men and women group were ethnic Kayan, Kenyah, Penan and some other indigenous groups from seventeen villages in the district which could be flooded by the proposed Baram One dam. Explaining the importance of the cross visit, Henry Sigau a young Kenyah professional said that “one sure way of knowing the impact of resettlement on the people is to know what happen to those who were forced to be resettled by the past dams and what were the promises made to them in making them agree to the move.”
The Penan Community Leader, Mr. Panai Erang of Ba Abang, in commenting on the promised Bandar Baru Baram (new township) made to the people of Baram for their resettlement area, he took the resettlement area of Tegulang as a proof of empty promises. He said that in Tegulang there is no school, no clinic, police station, agriculture department or government office as promised to the people before they move. The long stretch of road to the resettlement area is mud road which not well maintained. “SEB told us that the resettlement area for Murum is of world class, making it sound heavenly,” said Panai, “ but what we saw was disappointing,” he added. The comment made by Nugang from Long Liam is “the promises by the government to the people in Tegulang is empty promises.”
This recent trip is the fourth of such trip organised by the people of Baram to know the impact of being resettled in making way for HEP dams. There were three trips made in last year (2013). “This is the biggest number of participants we have seen so far,” said Mr.Peter Kallang, the Chairman of SAVE Rivers, the trip organiser. “On their part, SEB has been organising trips to China for the Baram people to see the Three Gorgeous Dam. But I think it make more sense to see Tegulang, Matalun, Batang Ai and especially Sungai Asap which are in Sarawak and the resettlement is done by the government of Sarawak, while the Three Gorgeous dam was built and owned by the Chinese government, ” added Mr. Peter Kallang