Malaysiakini.com, 6 August 2008
by Tony Thien
Sarawak PKR chief Dominique Ng has come out lambasting the proposed building of 12 hydro dams in the state.
The dam projects – announced by state-owned public-listed Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) – will only endanger the environment, he said, adding that Sarawak had electricity self-sufficiency.
However the state claimed that the combined total of 7,000 MW from the 12 proposed dams was necessary for large energy intensive industries like aluminium smelter plants and for export – primarily to Peninsular Malaysia.
In a statement, Ng – the party’s sole elected assemblyperson – questioned both the independence and validity of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the projects and it effectiveness in influencing policy decisions.
“It is apparent that the EIA is in fact a piece of useless trash, self-fabricated to justify the 12 very large dams, but lacking any persuasiveness whatsoever,” he added.
Ng was commenting on last week’s statement by the Sarawak Environment and Public Health Minister Michael Manyin that decisions to build the 12 dams were to be based on mandatory EIAs following existing legislation.
State government must be transparent
He alluded to repeated opinions of environmental NGOs condemning the falsified information contained in government-sponsored EIAs which blatantly served as the tools to legitimise the construction of large dams.
Ng asked the government to be transparent and release all EIAs related to the dams, saying that the public must be allowed to evaluate the depth and comprehensiveness of the documents based on universally accepted parameters – factoring in the safety of human populations.
The Bakun dam project flooded primal tropical forest the size of Singapore and set a dangerous precedent. Bakun alone was enough to supply East Malaysia’s electricity needs, Ng explained.
“The 12 dams like Bakun will similarly be extravagant and unnecessary in the scale of electricity generation, wanton in environmental and biodiversity destruction, violent in the dispossession and displacement of ethnic groups, and unpredictable in future environmental calamity and payback,” the Padungan representative said.
Last Thursday the state cabinet in a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud approved the construction of the RM3 billion 940MW Murum Dam above Bakun dam, with the project awarded to a Chinese state-owned investment company China Three Gorges Project Corporation, builder of the world’s largest dam.
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