Angry villagers of Kampung Na’ah and Long Kesseh Ulu Baram, who accused Penghulu Ajang Wan and 13 other community leaders of ‘selling’ their ancestral lands against their will to Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), the owner of the proposed Baram dam, have lodged a police report with a view to taking legal action against them.

NONEThe Kayan and Kenyah communities have three legal options open to them - one under the Kayan/Kenyah Adat and the other two under the Native Court Rules 1993 and the civil court, said Abun Sui Anyit (left), a human rights lawyer.

Under the Kayan/Kenyah Adat it is a crime to tell lies, he said.

The community leaders have been telling the authorities and the general public through the mass media that the proposed dam has the full support of the people.

In their police report lodged yesterday at the Miri Central Police Station, the villagers refuted the statement made by the community leaders who said that the proposed dam has the full support of the people of two villages.

“We want the police to investigate and take necessary action against them for telling lies,” said Anyi Eng, Edward Jok Wan and Malang Liang, after they lodged the report.

“How can they speak on behalf of the people to say that the proposed Baram dam has the full support of the people from the villages?

“Have they sought our views or discussed with us whether we agree or not to the proposed dam?

“As community leaders, they have failed in their duties to seek our views, and yet they dare to tell lies to the general public and the authorities through the mass media,” they said.

“We warn them not to surrender our ancestral land and properties without having any discussion with us, and we will use every means including filing a civil suit against them and the authorities in order to defend our rights.

“Land is our life, our blood and livelihood and we will defend it at all costs,” they said.

“To us they are not only abusing their power as community leaders, but also disrespecting our rights and interests, and what they did was morally wrong and is against our Adat (customs).

“We want Penghulu Ajang and the other community leaders to be punished or sacked for telling lies,” they said.

Blockades and protests

Elsewhere in Baram, there are also blockades and protests to stop workers from SEB from carrying out any initial work including the construction of access road and the testing and sampling of earth to determine the stability of the site earmarked for the main Baram dam wall.

NONEThe native communities comprising the Kenyah, Kayan and Penan are all out against the proposed dam and do not wish to be relocated elsewhere as they have seen the sufferings of those who have been relocated to Sungai Asap as a result of the Bakun hydro-electric dam as well as at Tegulang in Belaga because of the Murum hydro-electric dam, said Peter Kallang, chairperson of Save Rivers Sarawak Network (SAVE Rivers).

On top of that, there are many promises made by the authorities which have not been fulfilled, he said.

The proposed Baram dam, which is the most controversial dam so far, is expected to displace 26 longhouses and villages including Kampung Na’ah and Long Kesseh, and more than 20,000 people need to be relocated elsewhere as the dam would occupy an area of more than 38,000 hectares.

About 90 percent of the land is under NCR land.

The Baram dam will be the fourth to be built after the Batang Ai, Bakun and Murum dams by the Sarawak government, and it is expected to build another 11 more between now and 2030.