Anwar Ibrahim States as Prime Minister He Will Shelve Controversial Plans for Mega-dams on the Baram River

MARUDI: Polls in Malaysia are due to be held before April 2013 when the current government’s five-year term will end.  The Malaysian opposition leader and potential future Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, has recently made a public statement very significant to Sarawak’s indigenous peoples.  During a gathering at Marudi, a town on the banks of the Baram river, Anwar said last Sunday that as Prime Minister he will shelve the controversial plans for several mega-dams on the Baram river. The Baram river is the lifeline for over 20,000 indigenous people in Northern Sarawak and home to a number of indigenous rainforest cultures such as the Kayan, Kenyah, Penan and Iban.  Anwar’s clear statement is an important lobbying success for Sarawak’s SAVE Rivers network that has been campaigning against the Sarawak government’s dam plans for over one year. While the Baram dam and eleven other dams are being planned by Sarawak Energy, a power supplier owned by the Sarawak state government, it is highly unlikely that Sarawak will be able to proceed with the dam constructions without the financial and political support from the federal government.

Anwar receives a parang ilang as a souvenir from Roland (second left) as other PKR and DAP leaders look on. ©

Anwar receives a parang ilang as a souvenir from Roland (second left) as other PKR and DAP leaders look on. ©

Deputy chairman of PKR Baram Division, Roland Enggan, who is a lawyer, is a likely PKR candidate for Baram in the coming parliamentary election.  Roland is headed for a showdown with Patrick Sibat Sujang, an Iban from Kuala Bok Baram who is also interested in the seat.  At a press conference, PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the PKR candidate for Baram was still not confirmed though all branches prefer Roland.  Dr Michael Teo had announced Roland Enggan as the candidate.  Anwar said he would discuss the candidacy with his committee so the people in Baram would not be confused.  Both Roland and Patrick are campaigning for supporters and votes.  More than 500 people attended the ‘Jelajah in Sarawak’ held at the open space at PKR Service Centre yesterday morning.  It was also attended by PKR Woman chief Zuraidah Kamaruddin, who is Ampang Jaya MP, Baru Bian, who is State PKR chief and Ba Kelalan assemblyman, Krian  assemblyman Ali Biju, See chee How (Batu Lintang) and Alan Ling Sie  King (Piasau).  Also present were PKR Baram Division chairman  Harrison Ngau Laing, Roland and PKR State Women chief Voon Shiak Nee.  In his speech to the crowd, Anwar said oil royalty, Baram Dam and NCR issues would win them Putrajaya in the next election.  He said, among others, when he becomes prime minister, water would be free, the PTPTN loan will not have to be repaid, and bridges would be built across the Batang Baram and Sg  Arang rather than use the ‘rotten’ ferry.  Baram Dam would be shelved if he is in power, he said.  Others who spoke at the function were Baru Bian and Ling.

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