MIRI: The state government’s announcement that it has given approval for the construction of the RM4bil Baram Dam to proceed has caused panic among ulu Baram folk.
Driven by anxiety over their imminent fate, the residents – including children, women and old folks – from numerous Baram settlements have travelled in hired four-wheel vehicles to Miri to discuss their plight with relatives and friends who are living in the city.
On Saturday, Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem announced that the state government had given power utility company Sarawak Energy Bhd the green light to proceed with the construction of the dam, to be sited between Long Kesseh and Long Naah, some 200km inland from Miri.
He said the decision to proceed with the project was made because the majority of the Baram folk wanted the dam project to start.
Yesterday, the Baram folk who came to Miri said they were shocked to hear Adenan’s announcement that they had given approval to the project.
They denied ever signing any pledge of support for the Baram Dam.
“It is only the BN politicians in Baram and those community leaders who are the ‘kaki kaki’ of these politicians who signed the pledge. The rest of us rakyat do not want the project,” said an old farmer.
“How can we support a project that will chase us out of the place where we have been living for the past few hundred years.
“No one from the government have asked us how we feel about their plan to relocate us.”
The farmer said the BN representive had betrayed the rakyat of Baram, adding: “They made the decision without even considering our feelings.”
Those who came down to Miri are now staying with relatives, friends and also in budget hotels.
They are also meeting with human right lawyers Harrison Ngau and Abun Sui as well as social and environmental non-governmental bodies to discuss their next course of action.