The Malaysian state of Sarawak is embarking on a large industrialization project, called the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). The backbone of this energy-intensive programme is a series of dams. The project reflects an out-dated understanding of development based on prestigious mega-projects: symbols value more than real improvements of living conditions.
SCORE proposes 50 hydroelectric dams with a capacity of 20,000 Megawatt (MW) should be realized in the long run. Sarawak Energy Berhad, a Malaysian supplier, is working on the implementation of a first series: around 20 potential sites for hydropower projects are circulating. Murum dam, the first one out of the series, is almost completed.These dams would flood hundreds of square kilometres of forest and farmland and displace tens of thousands of people. Baram dam alone would submerge 400km2 and 20,000 natives would have to be resettled. Resettlement means the loss of traditional livelihoods, culture and identity.
Swiss NGO Bruno Manser has backed the tour which will include Peter Kallang from Sarawak NGO SAVE Rivers and an indigenous person directly impacted on by dam construction. They will provide a briefing on the local and international campaign to defend indigenous rights and Sarawak’s unique rivers. The reason that the tour is being conducted is to educate and mobilise people about Australian company, Hydro Tasmania’s involvement as a major partner in construction of these dams. The tour will talk with NGOs, Politicians and hold events in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Hobart.
SAVE Rivers Network – fighting the government’s dam plans
People affected by the government’s dam plans have started getting organized and fighting the realization of the dams. In late 2011, the “Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network” (“SAVE Rivers”) was founded by civil society organisations, affected communities and concerned citizens in order to reunite all affected communities and coordinate the campaign against the dams.
The greatest resistance was originally coming from the Baram area where 20,000 people would be displaced. SAVE Rivers’ campaign has gained momentum in recent months. They have been in the Malaysian news with their conferences, protests, petitions and letters. They are strongly fighting the myth, which the government and Sarawak Energy are telling about the people having been informed, consulted and agreeing to the construction of Baram dam.
More information available in the blog and the facebook profile of SAVE Rivers: http://saveriversnet.blogspot.com/; http://www.facebook.com/pages/SAVE-Rivers/376175715744786