Ladies and Gentlemen,
Last Saturday, 23 February, Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud visited Long Lama in the Baram to promise development - once more after 30 years of promises (Long Lama still lacks a bridge across the Baram and the road connection to Miri via Lapok is one of the worst in the whole state). Listeners to Taib's speech were paid RM 50 by the state government.
The day was historical as, for the first time, a Taib visit in the region met with physical protests. A crowd of angry citizens from Baram demanded that Taib and the Sarawak state government to stop the plans for the Baram dam, to return the Native Customary Rights land to the communities and to issue identity cards to all citizens (thousands of Baram natives lack IC cards because Taib fears they might vote against him).
One of the protest organizers wrote us: "Our shouts were able to draw the crowd out from Taib's speech (at first they were nicely sitting in a very big makeshift tent in the middle of town). When they heard us then they moved to see us, a group of protesters on the street outside. That was more real than to listen to all the lies by the BN politicians. We were in full view of those who were listening to the speeches. I think we created history for Baram on that day for shouting at Taib and his cronies. From the reaction of the crowd how could any one doubt that the ordinary folks in Baram are against the dam. To force the dam through would violate human right."
Of course, the government-controlled media would not report on these protests.
Your BMF team