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Miri – Saying that building access road to Ulu Baram must be subjected to building of Hydroelectric Dam sounds like blackmailing. Like any other citizen anywhere in any country, the people of Baram are entitled to infrastructure and all other amenities which the government of day should provide.
If the statement made by Tan Sri Datu Amar Dr. James Masing as reported in the Borneo Post on the 30th June 2017 entitled “Masing: No dam, no road” is the official stand of the state government, it is no doubt an intimidation and a simplistic view. Blaming the people for opposing the dam is also a government’s admission for failing its democratic duty which is “the government of the people for the people and by the people”.
The people of Baram have every right to reject the Baram dam and opt for any alternative development that they want. Furthermore, the former Chief Minister of Sarawak, the late Tan Sri Datuk Adenan Haj. Satem at a press conference on 3rd May 2016, as reported by Sujadi Siswo of Channel News Asia said, “ There is no need to have another big dam we can have mini dams so on, but not a big dam especially when we don’t supply (power) to west Malaysia anymore.”
Based on the 2010 censors, Marudi District which is within Baram basin has a population of more than 90,000 people. Those who could be forcefully displaced by the Baram dam are 20,000 indigenous villagers from more than 36 villages. If the government is not able to resolve the problem faced by those more than 18,000 from existing dams how can they expect to satisfactorily resettle those from the proposed Baram dam? The people of Baram are very well aware of the sufferings experienced by those who have been forcefully displace by the existing mega dams in Sarawak and no one should blame them for rejecting the same doom.
Commenting on Masing’s statement in Borneo Post, Mr. William Lisu from Long Palai in Baram said, “It is very simple: No Road – No Vote”. From Tanjung Tepalit Baram, Mr. Dominic Mathew Useh said, “What YB Masing says is not logical and we hope that the government will build the road and bring development to Baram.”
Even after intensive exploitation of timber until Baram is ripped almost completely bare of primary jungle, Baram is left as one of the most undeveloped areas in Malaysia. Elected representatives should always remember that their duty is to serve the electorates. Just being elected does not mean that they can do what they want without due consideration. To ignore taxpaying citizens of their rights is inhumane it could even be a crime.