Cascading dams won’t infringe on NCR land, nor displace local communities — Sarawak Premier

Abang Johari speaking at the national-level ‘Water For Peace’ World Water Day Celebration ceremony at Kuching Waterfront in Kuching on April 28, 2024. Photo credit: Sarawak Information Department (JaPen)

By Ashley Sim and Christopher Lidom

KUCHING, April 28: Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg has emphasised that the construction of cascading dams in rural areas will not encroach on Native Customary Rights (NCR) land or displace any settlements because the dams rely solely on rivers to operate.

The Premier noted that certain non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have expressed their opposition to the Sarawak government’s plans for constructing cascading water sources.


He also mentioned that the local communities would be negatively affected if the NGOs continue to oppose the use of cascading water sources for energy generation.

“Actually, the river is a State asset. Running water is scientifically proven to produce energy.

“When you get energy, the economy and other sectors will thrive. Our living standards will improve, therefore we need to use our brains to rationalise what we are doing,” he said during his speech at the National Level ‘Water For Peace’ World Water Day Celebration ceremony today at Kuching Waterfront here.

Abang Johari said that the State government does not want to jeopardise people’s livelihoods, but he will not force anyone to oppose the State government’s decision to generate energy through cascading water sources.

He further emphasised the importance of effectively managing Sarawak rivers to mitigate potential disasters.

During a press conference, the Premier commented further, acknowledging that there are NGOs who were unaware of the concept of cascading dams.

“They (the NGOs) feel that they need details about the implementation of the project because they feel it is suspicious.

“So I said if that’s the case, we go somewhere else to the people who want it, which we are now doing in Sungai Ga’at, near Kanowit and Song in Kapit, because they want resources from the dam,” he remarked.

Additionally, Abang Johari highlighted that the cascading dam projects will use a new environmentally friendly technology—a tank elevator.

He explained that the technology relies on the force of gravity for the operation of the dam.

The event was attended by various dignitaries and officials, including Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Minister of Energy Transition and Water Transformation (PETRA) Dato Sri Fadillah Yusof; Sarawak Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Dr Sim Kui Hian; Sarawak Minister of Utility and Telecommunication Dato Sri Julaihi Narawi; Sarawak Secretary Datuk Amar Mohamad Abu Bakar Marzuki; Sarawak Deputy Minister of Utility and Telecommunication (Telecommunication) Datuk Liwan Lagang; and Deputy Minister of Energy Transition and Water Transformation (PETRA), Akmal Nasrullah Mohd Nasir. — DayakDaily