We don’t want you to give a “dam”, Sabah indigenous activists tell Putrajaya

PUTRAJAYA, 5 September 2019: Representatives from 9 villages which will be affected by the construction of the Papar dam in Sabah, marched to Putrajaya today to appeal to the Prime Minister to help stop the construction of the dam.

The group is representing the Taskforce Against Kaiduan Dam (TAKAD) which have been protesting the construction of the Kaiduan dam since the project was mooted 10 years ago. The project has since been rebranded as the Papar Dam.

“We voted for Pakatan Harapan during the 2018 elections because scrapping the dam was one of the election promises. Imagine our shock and devastation this year when they announced that the dam project is back on, this time rebranded as Papar dam,” Diana Sipail, chairperson of TAKAD, said.

“We appeal to our Prime Minister to step in and hold our Warisan-led state government accountable for their election promises, and not let them be reduced to a rebrand of our former government. We also seek the federal government’s intervention since the 2018 corruption case involving the State Water Department arising from the lack of transparent and inclusive process on the alleged water crisis is said to be the reason for the dam. We are in the dark and not consulted on the project to date and it’s necessity where every decision is decided privately. Is the project really for the rakyat or just for profit of the interested parties?

“They (Sabah state government) have demonstrated that protecting the rights of the indigenous people of Ulu Papar is not in their interest. Reviving the mega-dam project puts us at risk of losing our traditions, culture and our rich free environment which we’ve inherited over generations and important for our livelihood,” she added.

The dam, if constructed, will not only displaced over 3,000 indigenous villagers but also destroy the Crocker Range, which was declared a Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) in 2014.

The group’s many appeals to the state government this year have fallen on deaf ears.

At Putrajaya, TAKAD handed a memorandum to the Prime Minister’s office as well as to the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC).

The memorandum questions the need of the mega dam since RM170 million has already been allocated by the Federal Government to reduce Sabah’s Non-Revenue Water (NRW or unaccounted-for-water) from 52% to 20% (“RM170 mln to address NRW issue” Borneo Post, 31 October 2018).

 TAKAD also appealed for other solutions to be considered which have less negative impact towards the environment and local communities, such as building smaller and natural water catchments.

“The Crocker Range is not only an important biosphere but also our customary land in which the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) requires that we give Free, Prior and Informed consent (FPIC) to any project that may affect us or our territories,” Sipail explained.

“We would like to reiterate that we stand firm on our decision. It is the same 10 years ago as it is now, we do not want the dam,” she stressed.

“Upholding the dignity of our ancestors is our responsibility, and not something to be pawned under the namesake of development. Sabah is a state blessed with indigenous people and flora and fauna that we all should preserve and protect for generations to come.”

“We obey by the rules and regulations set by the government, in turn, we hope that they listen to the voice of the people and look into sustainable alternatives instead of building the mega dam,” she added.

TAKaD is also organizing a public forum tonight (5 Sept), 8PM at KL-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall – http://bit.ly/2ZE8uUe

For more info please refer to provided link:
or Contact Diana at (016-8357190) / Nelson Raymond (016-9974589)

Kenyataan Media – http://bit.ly/2lVEmBC
Ringkasan Memo – http://bit.ly/2jZigNZ
Memorandum (full) – http://bit.ly/2k03AON
Photo for Press – http://bit.ly/2lSt8xI

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