Taib: Interests of all natives affected by future dam projects would be protected


KUCHING: The state government has a comprehensive plan to protect the interest of indigenous people affected by hydroelectric dams which the government planned to build in the future.

NEW MATERIAL: Taib (second right) takes a good look at a picture contained in the newly launched 'Sweethearts of Sarawak' last night. Looking on bemused are (from left) Dr Yusoff, Awang Tengah, Len Talif and Masing. — Photo by Jeffery Mostapa

Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said he was prepared to offer what they (affected people) need, similar to what was done for the affected communities when building the Bakun and Murun dams.

“We have plans to resettle our people, like the Penans, to adapt to the new way of life. Maybe the facilities given are not for them per se but will be for their generations to come.

“I am sure what has been done to the ethnic groups throughout the state can be extended to the Penans. This is the humane way of doing things,” he said at the Sarawak Forestry Corporation’s (SFC) annual dinner 2010 at a leading hotel here yesterday.

Taib, who is also chairman of SFC and state Finance Minister, believed that Sarawakians would eventually understand why the government wanted to develop other dams.

“Our people will understand (in the future) because they are the ones who will benefit in the long run.”

On planted forest, he said the state could expect a yield which is five times more, in terms of production volume, than that of the natural forest in the future.

He added that one million hectares of planted forest would be able to produce 15 million cubic metres of timber.

“That means we are going to have the forestry sector in our economy not only to survive but also to improve. If we were to allow our original plan of only natural forest, we would be by now facing a phase of stagnation.”

Taib also stressed that oil palm plantation in the state did not compromise the government’s efforts in conserving orangutans and preserving other wildlife and biodiversities.

Those showing keen interest in such conservation should know that orangutans lived in certain areas like Lanjak Entimau and Batang Ai national parks and not across the state, he said.

“We have already preserved these national parks for orangutans even before people started criticising. Not many countries have preserved 50 per cent of their land mass as totally protected areas, but we did it with pleasure and pride,” he added.

The evening also saw Taib launching a book ‘Sweethearts of Sarawak’. The material introduces the characters of various orangutans and the efforts in providing rehabilitation and conservation for them in the state.

AmBank Group handed over RM100,000 to the corporation to adopt 10 orangutans in Semenggoh Wildlife Centre (SWC) for a period of one year while Cellmark AB, a Sweden-based marketing company, contributed RM30,000 for adopting one orangutan from SWC for three years.

Chairman of Sarawak Forestry Corporation Sdn Bhd Datu Dr Yusoff Hanifah also spoke at the dinner.

Among those present were Second Planning and Resource Management Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, Land Development Minister Dato Sri Dr James Masing and SFC managing director cum chief executive officer Datu Len Talif Salleh.