KUCHING, June 19: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg should honour the promise made by his predecessor, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, that no more large-scale dams would be built in the state in future.
In making the call, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) urged the state government to immediately place a moratorium on all plans for large-scale hydroelectric dams, including the proposed Trusan Dam.
In a special feature on Sarawak in its ‘Malaysia Human Rights Report 2017: Civil and Political Right’, the non-governmental organisation called for all future development plans under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) to be transparent and respectful of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the communities and be in accordance with international human rights standards.
SUARAM said the announcement by Abang Johari in July last year that the 275 megawatt Trusan hydroelectric dam would be built by Sarawak Energy Berhad was “shocking and disappointing”.
Indigenous communities affected by the existing Batang Ai, Bakun and Murum dams have all faced human rights violations and had their legitimate rights to FPIC withheld by the state, thus excluding them from partaking in any decision-making processes, it said.
The report noted that in 2017, communities relocated by the Bakun and Murum dams continued to raise concerns regarding their fundamental economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR).
“According to the IPs (Indigenous Peoples) who were relocated to the Bakun Sungai Asap resettlement area nearly two decades ago, and the Metalun and Tegulang resettlement areas in Murum in 2013, their demands for basic amenities such as treated water, electricity supply, fertile farming land and access to decent roads and schools continue to be ignored by the government.
“In addition, indigenous-rights activists were disappointed that the budget initially allocated for the construction of the Long Lama-Ulu Baram road is now being considered for the Baleh Dam region instead.”
SUARAM said this arbitrary decision by the state government was against the wishes of the affected communities in Baram. — DayakDaily