Miri: The Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (Scane) wishes to inform the government and law enforcement authorities that the situation at the Murum hydroelectric power dam project construction site is peaceful.
The workers’ routine and daily activities at the dam site are going on as usual except that some major works had been interrupted and stopped over the past three weeks due to the Penans’ erecting a road blockade against the construction of the dam.
Recently, a Scane team visited the area to monitor and gain first-hand information and insights on the progress of the dam construction. We observed that although the scale of the work is not as busy and massive as it were used to be, there were some workers doing their work at the powerhouse site, water intake point and the dam abutment area without any sense of anxiety.
The Penans informed Scane that Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), contractors and private companies involved in the project are using ferryboats or tugboats (locally known as tungkang) through the Bakun Dam reservoir to transport goods, machines, building materials etc. to the Murum Dam site.
The main access road to the site is quiet due to fewer vehicles such as trailers, lorries, trucks and cement premix tankers on the road. As usual, there were only logging trucks owned by some timber companies transporting logs along the road to their respective logging camp sites.
With fewer vehicles on the road and nominal work being carried out at the project site as well as fewer dam builders encountering the Penans at site of the blockade, Scane further observed that the situation is calm.
Therefore Raymond Abin, the national coordinator of Scane, advises the police not to be so alarmed and panicked over the situation at the Murum Dam area. The Penans are humble and peaceful people. Actually, the Penans do not need the presence of police personnel at their blockade as they have not caused any disturbances to the public.
If the Sarawak State Commissioner of Police, DCP Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah, plans to deploy the police personnel at the Murum Dam project area, Scane urges the police to ensure that the Penans are given full security and peace and their rights are not violated.
The Penans complained that every time the police came to the blockade site, the Belaga Police Chief DSP, Bakar Sebau, was bad-mannered and arrogant towards them. He provoked and intimidated them as if the Penans are not human.
On the morning of 22 September, DSP Bakar Sebau was arrogantly and forcefully trying to get the personal identity of and make an arrest on Raymond Abin. He described the encounter as “threatening and intimidating” – the arrogant and high-handed conduct of DSP Bakar.
It is such a shameful act for a police personnel to have bad faith towards Good Samaritans who are engaged in humanitarian work in delivering food and medicine to the needy and helpless Penans in the Murum area.
In the coming days, Scane shall continue to monitor the situation at the project site and provide humanitarian aid to the Penans as long as their problems persist and are prolonged.
Scane strongly urges the government to immediately resolve the Penans’ problems and issues over the dam at its roots.
Raymond Abin is national coordinator of the Sarawak Conservation Alliance for Natural Environment (Scane)