Protestors like Penans not above the law — Masing

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing

KUCHING: Those protesting the Murum hydro-electric dam, including those from the Penan community, should realise they are not exempted from the laws of this land.

Land Development Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing said this when commenting on the police action to stop protesters at the Murum dam blockade site yesterday.

“This country is governed by the rule of laws. If you break the rules, Penan or otherwise, you get the books thrown at you.

“The police action at Murum, I hope, will tell the Penans that they are not exempted from the laws of this land,” said the Baleh assemblyman.

An Internet news portal reported yesterday that police from Belaga fired shots into the air to stop more than 300 protestors. A protestor identified as Ngang Buling was said to be arrested.

On the police report lodged by the Penans against Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) for not informing them about the impoundment, Masing said he was sure the SEB had taken into account the rainy season at year end and used that in making their projection on rising water level in Murum dam.

“Hence, there is no danger of Penan settlements being under water prior to being resettled to a new site,” he said.

According to the Internet news portal, the protesters began erecting blockades on Sept 23 to stop contractors and workers of SEB from entering the dam site.

Several Penan families were said to refuse to move out of Long Wat, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Singu, Long Malim and Long Menapa on the upstream of the Murum River because the government refused to meet their demands for compensation.

It was also reported that another police report was lodged by SEB which claimed that a group of people wielding dangerous weapons threatened workers at the site.

“It is disturbing to see that the poisonous influence of foreign instigators has now led to threats of violence,” said SEB chief executive officer Datuk Torstein Dale Sjotveit in a recent media statement.

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