Orang Ulu natives in Baram gathered to protest against their community leaders whom they claimed misrepresented them.
BARAM: Some 450 villagers from all over Baram held a demonstration here on Monday to protest against their community leaders who pledged support for the Baram Hydro Electric project without consulting them.
Watching over the protesting natives in the sleepy town of Long Lama were about 100 police personnel who were assisted by squads from the riot police. A police helicopter flew overhead scanning the situation on the ground.
No untoward incident happened and the demonstration proceeded smoothly with the crowd only dispersing about an hour later.
The demonstration began at around 10am, outside the Long Lama Sub-District Office with the villagers then proceeding to march around the town shouting slogans “Stop Baram Dam” in the different ethnic Orang Ulu dialects.
Banners and placards stating ‘Stop Baram Dam and Stop Mega Dams’ were unfurled during the demonstration followed by cries from the villagers to call on the government and the relevant authorities to listen to their pleas.
The crowd would have been bigger if certain timber camp managers around Baram had not warned their employees from going into Long Lama town.
Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC) chairman Philip Jau addressed the crowd, saying that the majority of the people in Baram rejected the proposed Baram HEP and advised the community leaders against supporting certain politicians with vested interest.
“Our community leaders should stand strong and listen to the peoples’ concerns instead of being easily manipulated by politicians with vested interest in this project.
“If you do not listen to the plight of the people, then the people will have no respect for their community leaders,” he said.
Jau further urged the politicians not to manipulating the community leaders.
The demonstration was held in conjunction with the Native Court proceeding initiated against Temenggong Pahang after the group failed to get him to retract his statement in the media dated May 18, 2012 under the headline ‘Community Support for Baram Dam’.
In the article, Temenggong Pahang was quoted as saying that ‘after initial misgivings, the people who will be affected by the Baram Hydro Electric Project (HEP) have collectively agreed to give their support to its implementation’.
This statement, according to Dorus Katan of Long Tap, Akah, who initiated the suit, was wrong, false and misleading and had created a lot of confusion and anger among the majority of the Orang Ulu community in Baram.
Temenggong Pahang Deng was charged for allegedly violating the adat or customs of the Kayan-Kenyah community.
The Native Court presided over by a community leader Penghulu Lenjau struck out the case on a technicality.
According to Dorus, he will review the court’s decision by consulting legal experts and will decide soon on the next course of action.