Miri – SAVE Rivers was selected out of eleven Civil Society Organisations from eight different Asian countries as the recipient for the 19th Tji Haksoon Justice & Peace Award 2016; this is the first time that the award goes to Malaysia.
On the 10th of March 2016, receiving the award in Seoul on behalf of SAVE Rivers, was Mr. Peter Kallang, the organisation’s chairman and he was accompanied by Mr. Dominic Mathew Usek a villager from Baram, who is one of those who oppose the proposed Baram Hydroelectric Power Dam.
Aiming at fast-tracking the state economy, the Sarawak government is planning to build from 12 to 52 Hydroelectric (HEP) Dams in the state. The dam building project in Sarawak Malaysia is a major cause of environmental disaster which destroys flora and fauna. It is also an industry which will result in the forced displacement of thousands of Sarawak’s indigenous peoples.
SAVE Rivers which was formed in October 2011, has been a vigorous movement supporting those who are resisting the government’s proposed HEP Dams. Since its formation the network has been campaigning against the construction of mega dams and giving various supports to those who oppose the projects. They have a commendable success in empowering those affect by the project which enable formidable resistance from those who are directly affected.
The Tji Hasoon Justice & Peace Award is given out annually to deserving individuals or organisations who ‘’at great personal risk, stand up to opposition, in pursuit of justice, peace and respect for human rights.’’ The 2016 award is the 19th honour being presented since it was formed in 1997. Before SAVE Rivers from Malaysia, the recipients over the last nineteen years were from thirteen different Asian countries. The countries range from South Korea itself to Uzbekistan. The foundation is named after a Catholic prelate, the late Bishop Tji Hak Soon who was an activist and spent most of his life in fighting for human rights, social justice and against corruption. Commending SAVE Rivers on the award, the Chairperson of the accolade, Monsignor Kim Byung-Sang said, “SAVE Rivers has demonstrated the full practice of God’s will for the world peace, with small difference in degrees and form.”
Commenting on the award, Mr. Peter Kallang said, “This award is a gesture of support and approval and we are really grateful for it. We therefore urge Chief Minister Adenan Satem and the Sarawak government to stop all mega dams and consider alternative energy sources like solar power, biomass and micro hydro. These alternatives would be more people centred and environmentally friendly.”