The government is trying to block information about the Baram Dam, say activists.
PETALING JAYA: A group opposed to the construction of Baram Dam has decided to go on a campaign to educate peninsular Malaysians about its destructive effects.
Phillip Jau, chairman of the Baram Protection Action Committee, told a press conference today that the government had not been open about the project.
For example, he added, many Malaysians were not aware that the project did not have the consent of the people who would be affected by it.
“In order to go ahead with a major project like this, they should seek the consent of the people beforehand,” he said.
“But until now, they have not asked for that consent. The indigenous people of Sarawak have not been consulted as per the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) principle on major decisions that affect their livelihoods and lands.
“The government is also not being transparent by only mentioning about the seemingly good things such as that the building of the dam will bring many benefits when, in fact, it is the opposite.”
Jau said he suspected that the government was trying hard to suppress information about the project.
Jau’s statement had the support of Peter Kallang of SAVE Rivers Network, who was also at the press conference. He said the project was a secret until concerned organisations got wind of it and started questioning it.
“The government is still trying to make it top secret so that when they implement it, it will already be too late for people to do anything,” he said.
Jau said the people living along the Baram River were being told that the dam would be a catalyst for the growth of the area, which in turn would uplift the standard of living there.
In truth, he alleged, the project would destroy the land and the people’s way of life.
Both activists said they did not believe that peninsular Malaysians would not care about the issue if they were informed of it.
Jau said the information campaign would educate peninsular Malaysians about the destructive impact of giant dams.
“These mega-dams will destroy forests and lands forever and everyone will be affected, whether they are indigenous or living in the towns.”
Some reports have said that 52 dams will be built in Sarawak alone by the year 2030.