Friday, April 26

SAVE Rivers: Listen to Penan’s plea on Murum Dam


Peter Kallang

MIRI: Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) is urging the state government to listen to the plea of Murum folk who are affected by the proposed Murum Dam.

“We note with regret that the dialogue session initiated by Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage and Belaga assemblyman, Liwan Lagang, with several community leaders in Bintulu recently, has not progressed any further,” said SAVE Rivers chairman Peter Kallang He said the government should abide by the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), for which Malaysia is a signatory.

“We, therefore, urge the state government to recognise the rights of the indigenous peoples to exercise their own decision-making processes, including the right to say ‘no’ and/or the right to set up their terms and conditions for partnerships in relation to how their land and territories are being used.

“Bona fide NGOs do not have any ulterior motives in supporting and making the people aware of their rights and to say otherwise is imprudent,” Peter said in a statement received here yesterday.

On the blockade, mounted since Sept 26, he said that SAVE Rivers supported the memorandum put forward by the affected communities, who wanted those promises initially made by the state government, fulfilled.

Save Rivers also noted that the government had ignored their demands, including a meeting with the State Planning Unit chaired by deputy State Secretary Datu Ose Murang and representatives from Sarawak Energy Berhad.
“We also note that the Penans of Murum are against the mega dam project since the beginning; in 2009, they sent a petition to the chief minster saying ‘no’ to the building of the dam.

Several of the petitioners were arrested instead.

So to say that the villagers are ‘made used by NGOs’ is utterly false,” Peter added.

Save Rivers also reminded the government of its claims that the resettlement of people affected by the Murum Dam would be “better than those in the past”, and urged the government to immediately rectify all the wrong-doings made against the Penans of Murum.