Premier: Cascading dams only with people’s agreement

Seated front row, from left: Wan Lizozman, Abu Bakar, Awang Tengah, Abang Johari, Dr Sim, Saferi and Hii photographed with the participants at Sarawak GLC Leadership Forum in Langkawi on Jan 28, 2024.

LANGKAWI, Jan 28: The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government will not force the people to accept the construction of cascading dams to generate electricity in Sarawak, says Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Speaking during the closing ceremony of Sarawak GLC (government-linked companies) Leadership Forum held at a local hotel here, he gave reassurance that the authorities would duly engage with the affected people to explain the concept and operation of cascading dams before proceeding with any construction.

“We do not force (on people),” he said while explaining that the conventional method of harnessing electricity from potential energy stored in large reservoirs of water would incur high social cost to the government and agencies concerned.

Citing cascading dams in Europe and Scandinavia as examples, Abang Johari said such concepts of hydropower generation would not inundate large areas of land and thus, might not require resettlement of people involved.

He said the people of Sungai Gat in Kapit had indicated that they were interested in facilitating the implementation of a cascading dam in the area and the due process of discussion would be carried out if the go-ahead was given.

In addition, Abang Johari pointed out that Sarawak must optimise its energy resources either for export or to spur domestic growth by attracting foreign investment with an offer of competitive power tariffs.

“Now, Sarawak has complete control of its power tariff with the takeover of Bakun dam from the federal government and is able to determine the right tariff to attract investment.

“Sarawak would be exporting a maximum of one gigawatt of power to Singapore via a 700km-subsea cable to the republic of which the cost would be borne by the island’s power authority,” he added.

He expressed his confidence that the availability of renewable and comparatively low cost power would propel Sarawak’s economic growth with the aim of transforming the State into a developed economy by 2030.

Later, the Premier also fielded questions from forum participants during a dialogue moderated by Sarawak Energy Berhad group chief executive officer Datuk Sharbini Suhaili.

Also present were Deputy Premiers Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Datuk Amar Dr Sim Kui Hian, Sarawak Secretary Datuk Amar Mohamad Abu Bakar Marzuki, Sarawak Financial Secretary Dato Sri Dr Wan Lizozman Wan Omar, Sarawak Attorney General Datu Saferi Ali and Deputy Sarawak Secretary (Operations) Datu Hii Chang Kee. – DayakDaily