Hydro Tasmania admits compliance deficits in Malaysian dam constructions

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The Bruno Manser Fund has urged Hydro Tasmania to cut its business ties with the corrupt Taib government.

Andrew Pattle at the Murum dam construction site - Photograph: Hydro Tasmania

KUCHING, Malaysia/HOBART, Australia — Andrew Pattle, the Australian project director of three dam projects in the rainforests of Malaysian Borneo said that “safety and environmental compliance are not given (…) much importance” with dam-building in Malaysia.

Pattle’s astonishing statement, which he made in Hydro Tasmania’s latest annual report, has been highlighted by Sarawak Report, a well-known whistleblower website.

Pattle, a long-term Hydro Tasmania executive, is currently “on secondment from Hydro Tasmania to Sarawak Energy Berhad” in order to help the Sarawak state government realise a highly controversial dam program. He has recently become the project director of the 1250MW Baram and Baleh dam projects and was, until October 2011, project director of the 944MW Murum dam construction, a dam whose Environmental Impact Assessment report and whose financing have never been disclosed to the public.

Hydro Tasmania’s involvement in Sarawak is very questionable, not only for the Sarawak government’s failure to meet basic transparency standards but also because of a very significant corruption risk.

After Rio Tinto Alcan’s recent withdrawal from an aluminium smelter plan in Sarawak, personal interests of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud are believed to be the main driver behind the continued dam building frenzy in Sarawak. Taib, whose family has multi-billion dollar business interests in over 400 companies in 25 countries, is currently under investigation by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission.

Last week, Australian Greens MP Kim Booth announced he was seeking an internal review with Hydro Tasmania for the company’s refusal to disclose details on its subsidiary Entura’s involvement in the Sarawak dam programme. Hydro Tasmania is 100 per cent-owned by the Australian state of Tasmania.

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The Bruno Manser Fund is very concerned that a publicly-owned Australian company is actively involved in the Sarawak government’s socially and environmentally devastating dam program. The Bruno Manser Fund calls on Hydro Tasmania to cut its business ties with the highly corrupt Taib government with immediate effect.

Source: Bruno Manser Fund

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