Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kayan elders flayed for trashing Baram dam lawsuit
The 14 Kayan elders who have condemned the filing of a legal suit against the proposed Baram Dam seem more prepared to lose ancestral land and property worth several hundred million ringgit, “than monthly allowances ranging from RM450 to RM800".

Raymond Abin, regional coordinator of Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (Brimas) said this in a scathing comment on the community leaders’ opposition to the lawsuit.

azlanSix Kayan and Kenyah - Anyi Eng, Edward Jok Wan and Engan from Long Na’ah and Anyi Ajang, Malang Laeng and Wan Jok from Long Kesseh - filed the suit in Miri last Wednesday  against Abdul Taib Mahmud (left) and the Sarawak government.

They claimed that two plots of land covering 4,000 hectares - over which they have exerted native customary rights - will be affected by the RM4 billion Baram Dam.
Taib, who is chief minister, was named in his capacity as resource planning and environment minister.

However, Penghulu Ajang Wan, in a statement on behalf of the elders from Long Na’ah and Long Kesseh, said this is irresponsible and that action would be taken against the six for failing to obtain consent and approval before filing the suit.
“They have smeared the good name of our two kampung. We don’t want their actions to have a bad impact on us that may divide our people in dealing with mega-projects such as Baram Dam,” Ajang said. 

NONERaymond (left) countered that the 14 are merely out to please Taib. He claimed that some of them were not even community leaders, but were hoping to be appointed ‘ketua kaum’.
“Their condemnation of the suit confirms their true colours - they are cowards and scared to lose their allowances, but not their ancestral lands, rights and their adat(customs),” he said.
“It is against our culture to allow others dictate our life; it is not our culture to steal or rob others of their land.”

Raymond pointed out that Kayan culture allows anembiak (followers) to sue those who commit criminal acts, as stated in their adat, law and custom.
“Taib is not above the law, so people can sue him. The process of the law has to set a precedent," he noted.
Taib used the law to extinguish NCR (claims to) land. The people can also use the law to defend their rights. Let the court decide."

‘Betrayal of the community’
Expressing equally angry views, human rights lawyer and activist Abun Sui Anyit said the so-called community leaders have betrayed their ancestors “who fought for NCR land with blood and tears”.

NONE“They are not fit to be our community leaders because they speak on behalf of Taib or try to protect him, instead of protecting the rights of the Baram communities,” Abun said.

Harrison Ngau (left), the lawyer for the six litigants, said these so-called leaders will “bury themselves in the dustbin of history with their stupid statement in support of the Baram dam”.

Harrison added: “The BN lost badly in their longhouses during the last two (state and parliamentary) elections, so their support in their own longhouses is very nominal.

“This is the first case we are filing, and there will be at least two more cases. In this case, we are challenging the constitutionality of Section 5(3) and 5(4) of Sarawak Land Code.”

Source: Malaysiakini

NGO: Murum dam not in accordance with best practices

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FZ.COM/Chen Shaua Fui
KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 12): The building of the Murum Dam is not in accordance with the principles of good practice, environmentalists said today, noting that the project disregarded the interests of the indigenous people displaced by the project.
Wong Meng Chuo, the director of the Institute for the Development of Alternative Living (Ideal), said Sarawak Energy Bhd’s (SEB) claim that the dam was built according to best practices with full consultation with the local people, is not entirely true.
Wong said that while the local people were invited to attend meetings about the project by SEB, they were not able to give feedback as they did not know what to say.
SES, however, proceeded to distribute photographs of the people attending the meetings with captions stating that they had voluntarily agreed to the resettlement plan, he said.
Womg said that according to international best practices on building dam, the affected local people must be consulted in three manners – “free, prior and informed”
"Free means they are free to say no; prior means way before the project starts, while informed means they are given all the information," Wong said, adding that the SEB had failed to comply with any of these principles.
Wong was speaking at a press conference by NGOs concerned with the plight of the indigenous communities affected by the construction of hydroelectric dams in Sarawak.
He said SEB only conducted the social impact assessment for the Murum Dam project two years after construction had started.
"It's like an afterthought," he said.
He also pointed out to the lack of community representation.
"Some village headmen were invited to go to the meeting. Although the village headmen can serve as legal representatives, it is unclear whether they are really  representing the people's interests", Wong added.
According to the Resettlement Action Plan, an affected family will received RM800 a month for the first four years, besides a single RM4,000 payment to move from their house.
Wong, who has been promoting environment protection awareness for decades, said that in any development project, the affected people should be adequately compensated.
Their livelihood must be better than before, otherwise it would be gross social injustice to the affected community, he added.
The Murum dam will generate 944MW of electricity after its commencement in 2014.
In recent days, Penans living in the affected area are have been setting up blockades at the Murum Highway, leading up to the construction site.
Their goal is to get the government to pay compensation of RM500,000 to each family.
However, the government had not sent anyone to meet with them.
Baram Dam faced similar issues
Peter Kallang, chairperson of the Save Rivers coalition, meanwhile spoke about the latest development with regard to the Baram Dam project.
He said 25,000 people will be affected by the Baram Dam, and many of them have also been setting up blockades at Long Lama and KM15 since last month.
Unlike the Murum people, the Baram community rejected the dam totally and refused to receive any compensation from the government, he said.
The Baram community has resorted to peaceful blockades to ask the dam construction workers to remove their heavy machinery and to leave Baram district.
About 60 dam workers together with 15 policemen had complied and left the area without untoward incidents. Construction work has come to a complete standstill.
He said the people there are writing a letter to the construction company to state that they are not going to be responsible for any damage to the equipment near the dam site.
Today is the deadline set by the people for the company to move out the equipment.
Peter said that the Social Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) for the project6 will only be coming out next month but “they are building the dam before the SEIA is approved."
The Baram Dam is expected to generate 1200MW electricity once it is completed.
However, Peter pointed out that currently the electricity usage of whole Sarawak is only 1,000MV.
Furthermore, the state has a store of 1,300MW electricity in 2010, and when Bakun Dam started its operation, it produces 2,400MW a year.
"In other words, we have a surplus of electricity in the state," Peter said.
The dam projects are part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) to produce 7,000MW electricity for the whole of Sarawak in 2020.
Under SCORE, the priority industry that will use this energy is the aluminium smelting plant while on the bottom is tourism.
Peter said that the government should switch the priority because tourism industry could offer more jobs to the local people.
"We want development, but we want development that is people centred. Instead of building mega dams, the government should build good infrastructure, and build micro dams or solar energy plants to supply electricity to the local community," he said.
In order to support the people in Murum and Baram to continue their fight, the Save Rivers coalition will launch a fund raising campaign by the end of the month.
The public will be asked to donate RM20 per person for the people's struggle. The money will be used mainly to pay for the food and shelter of the people in the blockade area
Read more: http://www.fz.com/content/ngo-murum-dam-not-accordance-best-practices#ixzz2kZSS17eS

Penans vow to continue blockade until govt agrees to talks

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by Chen Shaua Fui
Pix by Dominic Xii
PETALING JAYA (Nov 12): The arrest of 10 Penans last week at the blockade site near Murum Dam has not deterred them from continuing their fight to stop the inundation of their land before compensation is paid.
They went back to the site upon their release on Sunday.
The state coordinator of Borneo Resources Institute (Brimas) Raymond Abin said that the Penan will continue to stay at the blockade site until the government promises to talk to them on the compensation.
They had asked for a compensation of RM500,000 for each family affected by the Murum dam.
 “The Sarawak government has not sent anyone to talk to the Penan so far,” Raymond told fz.com on the phone.
On Nov 7, 10 Penans were arrested, including two teenagers, aged 13 and 16, according to the Child Rights Coalition Malaysia (CRCM).
The Penan had started their blockade at the Murum Highway since Sept 20, which means they had been staying in the outdoors in tents for 52 days and relying on food donated by the public who support their cause.
They were remanded at the Belaga Police Station lockup and were released on Nov 10 on police bail. However, they were requested to attend Court in Belaga on Nov 26 to answer charges under section 341 for wrongful restraint and section 448 of the Penal Code for criminal trespass.
Upon their release at 11.30am on Sunday, the group lodged a police report against the police, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) and the Sarawak state government for unlawful arrest.
“The most important issue now is that the government must pay compensation to the Penan according to the law. The government cannot inundate their property without any compensation,” Raymond said.
It is expected that about 1,500 Penans would be uprooted from their ancestral land following the inundation of the 944 MV Murum dam.
The Borneo Post on Nov 4 had reported that, according to a media handout by SEB, the power generation from its first unit is expected to commence in August 2014 and full generating capacity achieved in February 2015.
Raymond said that currently three villages had moved to the Tegulang resettlement area because their houses were inundated and they have no other place to live.
“It is not that they have accepted the compensation. They moved there because they have no other alternatives,” he added. 
This is the third hydroelectric dam in a series of 12 dams that are being planned under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, following the Bakun Dam and Baram Dam.
Raymond also pointed out a safety concern of the Penan in the area. The dam was inundated before the construction was complete, he said, to show that the company could complete the work according to schedule.
“The construction is still going on. The power house is not yet completed. All was done in haste. This is worrying if the water level increases day by day. It is dangerous to the people in the area, as well as their property.
“The government cannot evaluate the Penan’s property if their lands were under the water. How would the government make compensation to them?” he asked.
On Oct 16, SEB had issued a statement that filling the reservoir is a slow process that can take up to 14 months.  As the safety and wellbeing of the community affected by the project is their key priority, the process is based on clearly mapped out timelines.
The Long Wat relocation was done on September 9, 2013, where all 89 families vacated their old longhouse and moved to Tegulang Resettlement village and are enjoying the comfort of their new homes equipped with facilities, amenities and infrastructure, the statement said.
The next areas that will be relocated are Long Malim followed by Long Tangau, Long Menapa and finally Long Luar and Long Singu.  It expected the relocation process for all communities to be completed by end of the year.
Raymond, who has been working with the Penan in Murum for about ten years, said that the Penans’ life was getting more difficult because of the drastic development on their land.
“Many years ago, they had to face the logging in the area, and the oil palm plantations that came up at the same time. The change was too drastic for them. They were exposed to modern life before they could adapt to the new environment, especially how to be self-reliant outside the forest, the importance of education, or learnt farming, which they don’t have any experience of before.
“Now there is this Murum Dam, their life is tougher. Although the SEB and the state government said that they will implement plans to improve their life, but I doubt this will be something sustainable,” Raymond said.
Unlike Kayan or Kayah people who are good at farming, the Penans are mostly hunters and rely on the forest for food.
When the Bakun dam was built in 2001, about 10,000 people were forced to resettle to Sungai Asap, Belaga which they had said that the three acres of land that was given as compensation to them is not fertile and it is difficult for them to plant any crops. Also, as they were living far away from the forest now, their source of food is reduced.
In KUALA LUMPUR, Peter Kallang, chairman of the Save Rivers coalition said today that the police were trying to agitate the Penans at the blockade site so that they would react and give a reason for the police to arrest them.
He claimed that the Penan could smell alcohol on their breath and they suspected that the officers had been provided with liquor, Peter told a press conference here.
The Penan are going to lodge a police report on the matter today, he said.
Read more: http://www.fz.com/content/penans-vow-continue-blockade-until-govt-agrees-talks#ixzz2kZQqiF3y

Penan welcomes their heroes

The 10 Penans who were arrested and remanded at Belaga District Police Station were released on November 10th (Sunday). They were released on police bail pending court charge on November 26. Those released were Ngang Buling, Lau Siang, Ramli Bujang, Awa Juman, Balan Beran, Anthony Juman, Tom Avit and Tingang Lingok together with Merit Gadong and Philip Bujang.

About 200 Penan families welcome them back as their heroes.

“We are happy to be back with all of you again at Murum Dam blockade site” said Ngang Buling, the Chairman of Peleiran Murum Penan Affairs (PEMUPA) Committee.

The 10 Penans released from lock-up taking photo
together with their relatives at Belaga Police Station 
He advised them to be resolutely strong as their struggle for justice is just begun. The government has all mean to suppress by using the police to intimidate us but we are conscientiously clear in our demands for just, fair and equitable compensation, he added.

On November 7th, eight (8) Penans were arrested at the Murum dam site for staging a blockade to protest against the impoundment of the RM4bil Murum Hydroelectric dam project as the state government of Sarawak has been silent on their demands for compensation. On November 8th, while on visiting their remanded relatives at the Police Station, another two (2) Penans, Merit Gadong and Philip Bujang were arrested and placed under police custody. 

Among those remanded were 3 Penan teenagers of age between 13th and 19th years old.

“We never asked for this dam project but the government imposed it upon us. Now they want to kill and drown us together with our land”, said Lingok Lokap the farther of 13 years old Tingang who was also arrested last week.

Immediately after their released the Penan lodged a report against the Police for wrongful arrest and imprisonment. Together with them was their lawyer, Abun Sui Anyit.

Ngang told the Penan that their blockade will continue until the government comes to her sense to truly engage a negotiation with the Penans on their demands.

He calls the government to come to the blockade site, talk to them and meet their demands, they will stop the blockade.

A total of more than 1,400 people from six Penan and one Kenyah villages are affected by the 944 MW Murum HEP, which started impoundment on Oct 21. 

The government has forced relocation of 161 families from three villages affected by the RM4 billion dam to the Tegulang Resettlement Area. This affected 18 families from Long Malim Kenyah, 54 families from Long Malim Penan and 89 families from Long Wat.

The Penan villages that protested against the impoundment of the dam are Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa and Long Singu. 

They have started their blockade protests since Sept 17 as their demands for fair compensation have not been met by the Sarawak state government and its linked corporations, the Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB).

They would be resettled in Metalun, which is still under construction and not ready yet.

Belaga police chief stands firm on Murum dam arrest

District chief DSP Bakar Sebau said his men would detain those taking part in unlawful activities once they had sufficient evidence.

MIRI: Belaga police have been left with “no choice” but to arrest people including teenagers found to be actively involved in blockades and protests against dam projects in the interior of Sarawak.
“We have no alternative but to arrest them, including teenagers, because they were found to be involved in illegally soliciting for money from those wanting to enter the dam site,” he told The Star yesterday.
The Belaga police have came under heavy criticism from human rights activists and several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for arresting three Penan teenagers, including a 13-year-old youth, during a recent swoop against protesters at the access road leading into the Murum dam.
The three were among 10 natives who detained late last week but had been released on police bail since.
“A date has been fixed for them (suspects) to appear in court on Nov 26, pending a possible court charge.
“We have prima facie evidence, in which we seized a sum of money from the protesters believed to have been demanded from visitors wanting to enter the Murum dam site,” DSP Bakar said.
On his comment on the negative publicity brought about by the arrest, he said the police needed to perform their job as deemed fit.
“I do not want to comment on these NGOs — there’s no point to it. Whatever explanation that we come up with, it will certainly be misinterpreted or even twisted by them.”
Meanwhile Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (Brimas) state coordinator Raymond Abin said those who were released from lock-up had returned to the blockade sites.
“Lawyer Abun Sui helped them to lodge a report against the Belaga police for wrongful arrest,” he said.
Over in Baram, Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau said headmen of Long Naah and Long Kesseh had denied claims saying that they were part of the party to the suit filed by six villagers against the state government and Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud at Miri High Court.
“The headmen and their JKKKs (village security and development committees) strongly deny that they are part of the party who sued Taib and the state government over the Baram dam as alleged by certain quarters.

Last Wednesday, six villagers from the two settlements filed the suit through their lawyer Harrison Ngau, against Taib and the state government for allegedly contravening the Federal Constitution as the state had extinguished 4,000ha Native Customary Rights (NCR) land in Long Naah and Long Kesseh as a part of the proposed Baram Dam project.

Source: the Star

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Suaram slams arrest of minors in Penan blockade bust
4:38PM Nov 9, 2013
Human rights NGO Suaram has blasted the continuing arrest of Penans at the Murum dam blockades, especially when two minors are amongst those rounded up.

"Suaram  is very concerned on the condition of two minors that been detained under the police custody. 

"Malaysia has adequate laws in the Child Act 2001 that provides proper procedures of handing arrests and detention of children," said Suaram executive director. Nalini Elumalai in a statement last night.

Reminding the government that Malaysia is a signatory to various UN conventions on human rights, she said "these incidences (in Murum) indicate a blatant violation of child’s rights."

According to Nalini, among the eight arrested yesterday for defending their native rights land as the Murum dam nears completion were Tingang Lingok, 13, Philip Bujang, 16.

The NGO added that yesterday they also received information from a reliable source that another two Penan from Murum were arrested in the afternoon at the Belaga police station. 

"Suaram strongly condemns the police on arbitrary arrest and detention  of Penan communities in Murum," said Nalini.

She blasted the police for failing to sympathise with the problems of the local Penan communities, who were in fear of their homes being flooded as the dam fills up, affecting roughly 1,500 indigenous people

"We urge the Royal Malaysian Police to safeguard law and justice and to protect the interests of the Penan people instead of taking the side of the exploiters," she said.

Calling on the inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar to "intervene and tell his men not to interfere in the Penan people's struggle for their rights", she reminded the force that their duty was to play a "neutral role" in such disputes.

Over the past months the Penan communities have intensified their protests and erected blockades on roads leading to the dam site, after they found out that the authorities and Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) have ignored their demands for compensation and proceeded with the impoundment of the RM4 billion dam last September.

Source: MalaysiaKini

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Arrest Me Too? Amazing Bravery Of One Small Child!

Arrest Me Too? Amazing Bravery Of One Small Child!

Hours after the armed arrest of 8 of his relatives, including two young teenage boys, the people of Sarawak will be stunned at the amazing bravery of one young Penan boy at the Murum Dam blockade.

He is very young.  Maybe only about six years old.

But, in him a star and a future leader is surely born and the elderly kleptocrat Taib Mahmud and his court jester, the Norwegian dam builder, Torstein Sjotveit, should take notice of this powerful little voice.

Filmed on a shaky camera in the murkey darkness of his campsite by the side of the road, the displaced youngster speaks straight to the camera.  Straight to Taib Mahmud, the “swindler” who has taken his land and his heritage and destroyed a unique place on our planet.

Surrounding him are fellow campsite children, in awe of his bravery, and also adults, whose passions and views he articulates with simple eloquence.  Did ‘foreign NGOs instigate’ this, Abdul Taib Mahmud?

Source: Sarawak Report