KUCHING: Recent protests by the natives in relation to the Murum dam and the proposed Baram dam do not surprise PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
She opined it was only natural that the natives protest against the loss and destruction of their homes and livelihood.
On the arrest of eight Penans, including two teenagers, last Thursday in connection with the Murum Dam, Wan Azizah said the authorities must respect the rights and welfare of the Penans.
“These are the people of the land who are being deprived of their livelihood, their homes and culture by a government that is on a totally unnecessary mega-dam building spree.
“The destruction caused by the dams is immeasurable, the loss and suffering caused to the Penans is beyond the comprehension of those who do not depend on the land for survival like they do,” she told a press conference at PKR Stampin office here yesterday.
Wan Azizah, wife of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, said over 1,500 natives lost their homes to the Murum Dam, while the proposed Baram Dam would displace 20,000 natives.
The recent proposal to gazette the islands created by the impoundment of the Bakun Dam would deprive the displaced natives of the little they had left of their ancestral lands, she claimed.
She said it was totally unnecessary to send fully armed anti-riot police to intimidate Penan protestors in Murum.
Wan Azizah said social activist Harrison Ngau had filed a claim on behalf of the Penans affected by the Baram Dam, while Abun Sui, the PKR candidate for Hulu Rajang in the last general election, is acting for those affected by the Murum Dam.
State PKR liaison chief Baru Bian and state PKR vice-chairman See Chee How are representing the people displaced by the Bengoh Dam.
“These lawyers are members and leaders of PKR Sarawak. They are fighting for justice in line with the fundamental principle upon which our party was founded,” she added.
Wan Azizah was in the state to chair a meeting with regards to the party’s preparation for the next state election, which is due in the first quarter of 2016 although the chief minister has the prerogative to dissolve the State Legislative Assembly earlier. Also present were See, who is also Batu Lintang assemblyman, and Wanita PKR vice-chief Voon Shiak Ni.