COMMENT: Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud is a stubborn man. The “white rajah” is bent on developing mega projects in the state despite fierce opposition from the natives.
Recently, the “cunning silver fox” announced that the state will go ahead to build the RM4 billion Baram Dam, which is certainly bad news for the farmers living in the vicinity.
About 20,000 farmers will be evicted from their homes and 40,000 hectares of land – or almost half the size of Perlis – will be submerged.
But does Taib care? It appears that the country’s longest-serving chief minister does not give two hoots to the natives as long as he sees his pot of gold overflowing.
In fact, Taib has reversed an earlier state government decision made in 2011 to put the Baram Dam project on hold in the face of strong resistance.
Taib has apparently turned a deaf ear to the pleadings of the affected indigenous communities, mostly Kayans, Kenyahs and Penans.
Maybe he gave the green light based on the findings of the Sarawak Energy Bhd officers who had allegedly briefed the natives on the project.
But theantdaily recently found out that the briefings were primarily aimed at giving the impression that the natives had agreed to the project.
It was all a deception. According to Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (Save Rivers), the vast majority of the villagers are still firmly opposing the project.
Save Rivers has claimed that the project would have adverse repercussions on health, environment and aquatic resources.
This dire warning has evidently not penetrated Taib’s conscience. Perhaps he has no conscience. He still wants to proceed with his “Baram delight”.
He is only interested in multiplying the dollar signs. According to Taib himself, the state had attracted about RM34 billion worth of investments to date. This is music to his ears.
Taib has a vision: with all the massive projects sprouting up, the natives will migrate to the urban centres where “opportunities will be plentiful”.
But in this land of plenty, only Taib reaps the bountiful fruits.