Murum Dam Project Relocates Penan Families

Nearly one hundred Penan families have been relocated to a “modern” village to make way for a hydroelectric dam project in Sarawak, Malaysia.

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Photo courtesy of Joe Lamb

Photo courtesy of Joe Lamb

Native communities affected by the Murum hydroelectric project have begun the shift to their new homes in the resettlement scheme in Tegulang, upstream Bakun

penanBELAGA: Eighty-nine Penan families from Long Wat who are affected by the impoundment of the Murum hydro electric project (HEP) have been relocated to a new village resettlement scheme in Tegulang. Tegulang is in upstream Bakun and according to Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang the new village’s location was ‘chosen’ by the Penans themselves.

“The site of the new homes was selected by the affected residents during a SEIA (Social and Environmental Impact Assessment) process. Many of the residents were employed during the construction. The Murum Penans deserve our support and I am determined to ensure that the resettlement is a success. The process is off to a good start, but I will be working with the community to make sure all of the government’s promises are delivered,” said Lagang. Yesterday’s relocation exercise was carried out with the collaboration of the Sarawak Energy Board (SEB) whose controversial chief executive officer Torstein Dale Sjotveit was also present.

The day began with villagers performing prayers and ritual ceremony before leaving their old houses at Long Wat, which former Penghulu Pao Tului described as the long-awaited moment. The new settlement is complete with amenities such as treated water, electricity, multipurpose hall and other modern facilities. Meanwhile, Murum Penan Development Committee (MPDC) chairman Labang Paneh, his father and siblings have also moved into their homes. Waiting to move into their new homes is the communities in Long Malim and Long Wat. Long Malim headman Asan Along his people are expected to move into their new homes at the end of next month.

Meanwhile Sjotveit said SEB accepted that it had a “special obligation” to the communities affected by its projects and was determined to be “good neighbours” in the long term. “We recognize that yesterday’s relocation is just the first step in a much longer journey. Together with the state government, we are committed to support the Murum communities in their transition to sustainable economy and self-sufficiency,” he said.

Penans move to new homes | September 11, 2013 | Free Malaysia Today