Saturday, November 24

Global pressure against Taib’s mega dams

The Bruno Manser Fund wants Sarawak Energy Bhd to declare its finances, contracts and funders linked to the development of mega dams in Sarawak.

KUCHING: Swiss-based NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF), which has been at the forefront of a global campaign against Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s land “development” policy which has stripped the state’s verdant rainforest and displaced thousands of indigenous natives, is calling for an independent external review of the Bakun, Bengoh and Batang Ai dams.

It is also demanding for a moratorium on all Sarawak dam construction and for Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB), a key player in the development, to sack its chairman, Hamed Abdul Sepawi.

BMF also wants SEB to declare its finances, contracts and funders.

It is also exerting pressure on foreign corporations, which it alleged were closely linked to Taib’s global business empire, to shun the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE)
It claimed “any involvement in Taib government’s hydropower programme is inextricably linked to corruption, environmental damage and human rights violations”.

In a report released today entitled “Sold Down the River. How Sarawak Dam Plans Compromise the Future of Malaysia’s Indigenous Peoples”, BMF disclosed that many of companies involved were closely linked to Taib and to his family-linked Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS).

“Foreign corporate actors, such as Australia’s Hydro Tasmania, Snowy Mountains Engineering Company (SMEC), GHD, the US consultant MWH Global, Norway’s Norconsult, Germany’s Fichtner and construction companies such as China’s Three Gorges Corporation and Sinohydro have concluded a ‘pact with the devil’ and are assisting the Taib government with its dam projects,” it said.

The report also named the “funding agencies” behind the Sarawak dam plans to include RHB Bank, EON Bank and AmInvestment Bank alongside Kuwait Finance House and Kenanga Investment Bank, which is a joint venture between CMS and Deutsche Bank.

The report further examined the dam plans that form part of SCORE, which is seen as “Southeast Asia’s most ambitious and most expensive energy project”.

The project, BMF noted, has a “planned investments of up to US$105 billion by 2030”.

According to BMF, some tens of thousands of indigenous people affected by the massive project are facing forced displacement from their traditional lands.

Sarawak has ‘excess’ power

The report noted that under the guise of “development”, the Taib government is planning to virtually dam all the rivers in the state’s interior, irrespective of the social and environmental implications.

“The dam plans are being pushed ahead under a cloak of secrecy. If implemented, they would entail the cultural genocide of a significant part of Sarawak’s rich indigenous culture,” it said.

A first series of 12 dams is currently being implemented by SEB, which holds monopoly on the state’s power supply.

The report stressed the fact that Sarawak is already facing a “excess power” situation.

“The current peak demand in Sarawak is around 1,000 megawatts (MW) and is thus far less than the power that can be produced by the recently completed Bakun dam alone, which, with a capacity of 2400 MW, is Asia’s largest dam outside China.”

BMF said that the Taib government and SEB, as the implementing agency, were facing increasing opposition from the affected communities.

“Representatives of SAVE Rivers, a Sarawak network set up to fight the Taib government’s dam plans, are currently embarking on a tour through Australia.

“The Hydro Tasmania-out-of-Sarawak tour is aimed at increasing the pressure on publicly-owned Hydro Tasmania, one of the most important corporate actors involved in the Sarawak dam plans,” it noted.

On Tuesday, Save Rivers chairman Peter Kallang said the tour aimed to enlighten Australians on the situation with the dams and urge the locals to pressure the Australian government into compelling Hydro Tasmania to rescind its decision to participate in the venture.

Tuesday, November 13

PRS jittery over PBDS possible return?

Former leaders of deregistered PBDS claim there are still 100,000 ex-members who are awaiting its registration and return.

KUCHING: Is the revival of the de-registered Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) a threat to James Masing-led Party Rakyat Sarawak (PRS)? Is that why PRS secretary-general Wilfred Nissom unleashed a volley of questions at its former PBDS leaders?

In a SMS message to FMT following reports that former PBDS leaders had met up at a reunion dinner and the party’s status was discussed, Nisson asked: “What are these ex-PBDS members up to in reviving the party?

“Is it a response to PRS’s stance? Or is it going to contribute to Dayak solidarity?”

Nissom said it is crucial that protem officials of PBDS Baru, which is pending registeration, explain their status.

“Is it [PBDS Baru] going to contest PRS’ claim of being the continuation of PBDS?

“Or is it going to recover the Dayak majority seats that PRS cannot claim back due to the fact that PRS is a member of the Barisan Nasional?

“How PBDS Baru chooses to answer these questions will determine whether the party can be said to be good or otherwise for Sarawak and Dayaks in particular,” he said.

PBDS was deregistered on Oct 21, 2004 when Masing, who was then PBDS publicity chief and Sng Chee Hua, then PBDS senior vice-president, were attempting to dislodge Daniel

Tajem as PBDS president in the 2003 party triennial delegates’ conference.

Tajem’s team mate was Joseph Salang.

100,000 members partyless

The challenge created an unresolved leadership crisis which led to the party to be deregistered in October 2004. It was the same day Masing formed PRS.

Masing is the PRS president.

Of 148,000 members, some 40,000 are now with PRS and other parties including BN component parties.

But more than 100,000 of them have remained partyless until today and their anger against Masing is just like the “embers of a fire”. They have blamed Masing for the crisis.

Masing, they said, chose to side with Sng instead of Salang.

In the effort to get rid of Tajem, Masing cooperated with Sng to destroy PBDS and was blind to the real character of Sng.

The Ibans likened Masing’s association with Sng to “Kumang nupi sawa” (Kumang rearing a python) which in the end would devour him.

(When they formed PRS, Sng, who was deputy president then, tried to get rid of Masing in May 2006. Sng’s efforts almost landed PRS in big trouble including deregistration)

Meanwhile, responding to Nissom’s questions, Louis Jarau, protem president of PBDS Baru, said there is nothing for Nissom or PRS to be afraid of as their efforts to register PBDS Baru do not concern him or his party.

“We are not disturbing other people. We just want the party to be registered. Is anything wrong with that?

“It is yet to be registered, so why are you so concerned with PBDS Baru?” he said, pointing out that PRS should be more concerned with the coming general election as Sarawak Workers Party is after them.

PBDS Baru no concern of PRS

Jarau said that the purpose of reviving the party was to continue with the struggle left unfinished with PBDS’ deregistration.

“We don’t want to pick quarrel with anybody. Whosoever is partyless and shares our struggle can join our party once it is registered.

“As a Dayak-based party, PBDS Baru will be the platform for the Dayaks to voice their concerns. This will be the difference between PBDS Baru and PRS which is a multi-racial,” he said.

He lamented that as of now no party, especially in BN, has expressed concern over the way the Dayaks are being treated.

On the coming election, Jarau said: “We never think about it. Our priority is to get the party registered.

“If it cannot be registered under this present government, we will wait for a new government that can be more sympathetic to our cause.

“I am sure things will change after the general election,” he added.

Before its deregistration, PBDS was the second biggest party in the state BN at one time with 15 state assemblymen and nine MPs.