MIRI: A coalition of native communities in Sarawak says “it is not true” that the majority of the Baram people in northern Sarawak wanted the RM4bil Baram Dam construction to proceed.
The Sarawak Native Customary Rights Network (Tahabas) yesterday said it had carried out consultations with various Baram communities and found that the majority of Baram folks were in fact against the project. Tahabas president Romauld Siew told Sarawak Metro that his organisation had gathered information and evidences pointing to the fact that the overwhelming majority of Baram folk were angry that the state government had given approval to start the dam construction.
“The recent statement by the Sarawak Chief Minister that the silent majority of the Baram people wanted the Baram Dam to be built is grossly inaccurate. The CM had clearly been misinformed about the true situation on the ground in Baram,” he said.
“We in Tahabas have found that those who told the CM during a closed-door dialogue in Miri that they supported the dam project were actually natives who were from outside Baram.”
Siew said only a few community chiefs at the dialogue were from Baram and they wanted the dam project to start because of vested interests.
The state government’s announcement on May 17 that it had given the go-ahead for the construction of the dam had caused panic-stricken ulu folk to travel to Miri City to discuss their plight with relatives and friends.
Adenan had said the decision to proceed with the project was made because the majority of the Baram folk wanted it.
Siew said the Baram folk who came to Miri said they were shocked to hear Adenan’s announcement.
“They denied ever signing any pledge of support for the Baram Dam project. 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 the Baram rakyat do not want the project,” Siew said, adding that they would not support a project that would chase them out from the place where they have been living for the past few hundred years.
“No one from the government have asked them how they feel about the dam project. The state made the decision without even considering their feelings.”
Siew said the state leaders should visit all affected Baram settlements and listen to the folk there to find out the true ground sentiments.
The state government, he added, should order a freeze to the plans for Baram Dam and other new mega dams until they properly consulted the rakyat to find out their true feelings.