Jacob misleads Baram folks on dam: NGOs

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Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) and Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC) take to task the MP for Baram over a “preposterous” statement about the Baram Dam project.

Baram MP Jacob Dungau Sagan – Photograph: Wikipedia

MIRI – With reference to the statement by Baram MP Jacob Dungau Sagan that appeared in The Borneo Post (26 July 2012) headlined ‘Govt follows requirements on dam construction’, we in Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) together with the Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC) would like to make the following statement.

We find Jacob’s statement to be preposterous and it is irresponsible of him as an elected representative of the people of Baram to say that the Government would not flood its own people.

By going forward with the Baram Dam project, the reservoir created would flood 412 square kilometres of the Kayan, Kenyah and Penan heartland in Baram which will force about 20000 people to be displaced from their ancestral lands.

The affected people would have no choice but to start new lives in a totally new area. As we have seen in the case of the Batang Ai and Bakun Dam, the people affected there face numerous problems which the government has yet to resolve until today.

We would like to ask Jacob what United Nations requirements the government has followed diligently. If he is referring to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which Malaysia has agreed to adopt in the United Nations, then the government has violated a number of articles, among others, Article 26 (right to land) and Article 18 and 19 (ensuring participation in the decision-making process and obtaining free, prior and informed consent).

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Up to now, the government has not yet obtained the consent of the affected people in Baram. The people of Baram strongly oppose this project. This is proven by numerous letters, police reports and protests made by the people of Baram against the project. All this while, the government has been using the community leaders and the Federation of Orang Ulu Associations Malaysia (FORUM) to give the perception to the public that the people of Baram support this project.

Consent does not mean that only the community leaders agree to the project; it should be based on the consensus of the whole community as stipulated in the UNDRIP. The consensus of the whole community is vital as this project will adversely affect the rights, survival and future of every member of the community.

Peter Kallang
Chairman, SAVE Rivers

Philip Jau
Chairman, Baram Protection Action Committee

26 July 2012

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