Wednesday, August 17

Baram folk in jubilant mood over dam cancellation

Lejau Tusau

Lejau Tusau

KUCHING: There is an atmosphere of triumph and jubilation among villagers in the Baram after the land reserved for the Baram Dam and the reservoir was returned to them.

Following the news that the gazettes which extinguished the rights of ownership over their land have now been withdrawn, the Baram folk are now an elated lot.

Their rights over the land were made invalid when the government allocated the area for the Baram Dam.

Jok Eng from Long Keseh who is one of those manning the blockade for more than two years, said he was really pleased by the news.

“I look forward to legally own my land again. This is the reason I have been manning this blockade all this while. I will continue to stay at the blockade site and wait for the official announcement from the government,” Jok told The Borneo Post yesterday.

Several parts of the proposed site for the dam belong to Jok and his relatives.

Nungang Anyie from Long Liam also said: “I am very happy but I hope this is not an election gimmick. I hope the government is sincere. To show its sincerity, I would like to request for Sarawak Energy Bhd to withdraw their lawsuit against the 23 of us for evicting their workers from the dam site in 2013.”

Lejau Tusau, a former headman of Long Mekaba and one of those who have been actively involved with the resistance against the dam said: “I am grateful to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem for returning our land back to us. We hope this is final. But if they start the construction of the Baram dam in the future we will be back to resist it.”

“I would like to hear an official statement in writing or announcement from the government about the cancellation of the Baram dam. After that we will remove the blockades.”

James Nyurang also a former headman of Tanjung Tepalit said: “While we are happy to hear this good news and if the government is really going to cancel the Baram Dam, we would like to request for the improvement of infrastructure in Ulu Baram so that we can move on with our lives.”

The around 40,000ha of land planned for the dam site and the reservoir include cultivated land, villages, cemeteries and reserved forest.

The news of the revocation of the land was contained in a letter from the State Attorney-General office responding to Harrison Ngau, who is the lawyer for the three Baram villages who have sued the government for the gazetted land.

Meanwhile, SAVE River Sarawak chairman Peter Kallang said he was planning to meet up with the blockaders on April 9

at the proposed dam site to persuade them to go home.

“I will carry out my duty as a citizen to persuade them to return to their respective homes when they have received the official letter from the government,” said Kallang.

He said there was no point for them to continue the blockade as the land had been returned to the respective owners.