Committee wants Baram Dam scrapped

LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE’S VOICE: (Back row from second left) Peter and Philip joined by others in holding a peaceful demonstration concerning Baram Dam at the venue where a closed door meeting was held for the project.

MIRI: The Baram Protection Action Committee is appealing to both the state and federal governments to scrap the proposed Baram hydroelectric dam project.

Its chairman Philip Jau claimed that the majority of the people from 26 villages affected by the project opposed it.

“Only certain village headmen and community leaders have agreed to the proposed dam. They have not been fully briefed on its advantages and disadvantages.

“If our community leaders, our Temenggong and penghulus, cannot defend our rights then they should resign. That is why we insist on seeing them here, including Senator Lihan Jok,” Philip told reporters on Friday.

Philip and Peter Kallang, chairman of SAVE Rivers Network, were among a score of people from Baram who demonstrated peacefully at the compound of Miri Resident’s Office before a scheduled meeting on the proposed dam.

The meeting venue, which was later shifted to the nearby Miri City Council, was chaired by Lihan, who is the chairman of the Consultative Committee for the proposed dam.The meeting was attended by community leaders from Baram, and representatives from Sarawak Energy Bhd, Miri Resident’s Office and relevant government agencies.

Peter and his group did not get the chance to meet Lihan.

Meanwhile, Peter claimed that letters of appeal from them and those opposing the dam had been sent to the relevant authorities, but they had not received any response so far.

“We have been writing so many letters. We have written to the prime minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) and Philip has handed personally the letter to Najib when he was in Long Banga, and both of us have given it personally to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Muhyiddin Yassin when he was in Lapok. We have also written a letter to Sarawak Energy Berhad.”

Peter alleged that the government had failed to disclose all information concerning the proposed dam, and appealed to the government to listen to the voice of the people.

“In any case, we have studied up to 50,000 dams that have been built in the world, and there are only one or two cases where the people are satisfied with the resettlement arrangements.

“If you have one or two chances out of 50,000, that means the chance that you are going to fail is more than sure as far as the Malaysian government is concerned.

“So, the government must consider the people first … after all the slogan of 1Malaysia is People’s first, action now.  We strongly agree with the slogan, but (the government) must abide by the slogan. It should not just sound good on radio or television.”

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