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Taib’s White Lies behind the Baram Dam

By Burak S. Sem

Each year, thousands of rural families (especially the dayaks) are forcibly displaced by so call “government development projects”, whether by timber companies, dams, roads, oil palm plantations and quarries. While such projects can bring enormous benefits to society, they also impose costs, which are often borne by its poorest and most marginalized rural folks. As one famous author wrote in his book he points out, “for millions of people around the world—development has cost them their homes, their livelihoods, their health, their rights and even their very lives.” Impoverishment and disempowerment often become their lot, with particularly harsh consequences for women and children.

In an effort to better understand the plight of those displaced by development projects and the relationship of this kind of displacement to international human rights and humanitarian frameworks for dealing with internally displaced persons, our government should conduct professional studies, research in examining the nature and scope of development-induced displacement and to identify the international institutions, transparencies and remedies that might prove effective in addressing this question before causing catastrophe.

By far, the design and implementation of this mega-project is not gone through for social well-being that do not have constant evaluations and professional studies on how this project could evolves after years and studies to understand what impact they have had on development and poverty reduction programs before and after the dam.

On last weekend, I was having a casual conversation over coffee with a respected Ketau Kampong from Ulu Baram. In the middle of our conversation, he told me bluntly that he is supporting the Baram dam project; he said “we in the upper Baram need the project in order to eliminate poverties and enhance our economy”, “without the dam, there will be no proper roads to link the ulu Baram”, “we’ll be far from proper medications, far from well equipped hospitals and clinics in Miri”. He further mentioned, “With this quality of development will guarantee jobs for our young-jobless-town-adults, and encourage them to return home”.  “This is God given project (he quoted from former YB, Lihan Jok’s controversial remarked) contributes to improved employment and economic growth, especially among the rural people of the upper Baram, with varied innovations to make projects community-owned by maximizing community involvement during the implementation of project.” He later pointed his index finger at his forehead and turning it and say, “the group of irresponsible people who are restlessly campaigning in resisting the Baram Dam project are “palui” (foolish), they are actually resisting developments for the people of the upper Baram”.

I was speechless and sorry on some of our Orang Ulu’s Ketua Mesarakat whose mindsets are still trapped in BN’s lies, blindly supporting the dam, without figuring out the consequences. I want to know what he's thinking about. The way he said it, makes me wondering whether he learned anything from the fate of our Orang Ulu people in Sungai Asap who had gone through devastation caused by the Bakun Dam, the people who were promised “beds of roses”.   Although there were a lot of government promises to our people in Sungai Asap during the last election, their social problems is far from over.

In my thoughts at that time, I reminded myself that I was talking to a man who is one of the innocent-mislead victims by bunch of thieves, robbers, liars and deceivers who are in most concerned of developing their family businesses, establishing their overseas bank accounts.  Innocent victims who are will be strip off from his rights, victims who choose to drown his long houses, NCR lands, cemeteries, heritages, races, cultures under the disastrous manmade lake and choose to rest his remaining life to live in government cheap resettlement house (don’t know where?), receiving a couple of thousand Ringgit in compensation money and allowing curses to overwhelm his mistakes by his next generations? But, maybe I was just over-thinking. I decided to remain silent on the subject that could lead to sour argument and may embarrass a Ketua Kampong.

Taib Mahmud’s business monopoly

A steady rise of new dam, to be the 2nd largest dam in Sarawak  is to becoming a platform for the Taib Mahmud to showcase to world  one of his achievements after 35 years as Sarawak Chief Minister and at the hindsight he is one of the millionaires of South east Asia.

Let it be told and I try keep it simple that the proposal in construction of Baram hydroelectricity dam is just one of the numerous achievements, masterpiece under the cooperation of Taib Mahmud and his family members to destroy our existence. CMS (Chahaya Mata Sarawak) plays a very important role in the investment and development in supplying of million tons of cements, sands and construction materials for the dam without taking any account of the existence of the people inhabited at that land for 100s of years, severely affected, and ignoring of EIAs [environmental impact assessments] and SIAs [social impact assessments].  The purpose of building of Baram Hydroelectric Dam is purely Business and at same time wiping out our existence from the face of the earth.

So far, there was no open formal dialog, discussion or even debate on the dam, except under closed door meetings for invited participants particularly the people whom they knew easily influence and “pulls by their noses”.  You know who they are.

My brothers and sisters; let it be told again and be accepted by all that our future of our generation does not lie in the hand of a chief minister and his government, because they weak human being as anyone of us, they are elected and they are not god.

The future of this country is in your hands in my hands, in the hands of all Sarawakian who in the dark horizon of this country's paradoxes under the claws of most evil man @ Taib Mahmud and his family members.

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