Comments by Sarawak Headhunter in red.
Nearly 50 years after independence for Sarawak, we see a comparison with the 'Highland Clearances' in Scotland during the 18th century when the highlanders were driven off their lands for capitalistic sheep farming.
Highlanders of Sarawak, beware! Not even Idris Jala can save you!
Even if not so 'wild', there goes the Sarawak highland native mode of life, just as surely.
What we have seen in Sarawak recently has the same capitalist logic, namely, to drive the indigenous peoples out of their native customary lands so that these lands can be exploited for their commercial value and the indigenous people can be “freed” to become wage labourers.
Freedom to be slaves to the dams and their owners, Taib Mahmud and family and their insatiably greedy "industrialist" cronies.
Thus, even though the accursed Bakun dam had been suspended in 1997 due to the financial crisis, the government still went ahead to displace 10,000 indigenous peoples to the Sungai Asap resettlement camp in 1998.
And just how much would timber from a virgin forest area the size of Singapore have fetched? The size of Singapore is about 646 sq kilometres, equivalent to 64,600 hectares or 159,626 acres. Based on a conservative yield of 30 tonnes per acre, that would amount to about 4.8 million tonnes of timber, worth RM2.1 billion at RM450 per tonne, if it was all classified as MLH.
Clear felling could easily yield twice the tonnage, while better species than MLH could be sold for between twice to more than quadruple the price of MLH (depending on species). Easily at least RM5-6 billion worth of timber would have been stolen in this manner, just from Bakun alone.
Any benefit to the state? Only nominal, since the bulk of the timber income would have been siphoned off and deposited into overseas bank accounts, in this case by Taib and Ting Pek Khiing.
See Sarawak Headhunter's post on "Timber - How Do They Cheat?" to get an idea of the scale of the stealing that has been going on and perpetrated by Sarawak logging companies.
Was any real accounting done? Does anyone trust Taib Mahmud?
All this happened while Dr Mahathir was the prime minister. Wasn't he a liability to the BN government then?
What liability? From their point of view of course he was an asset worth billions.
I was part of the fact-finding mission to Sungai Asap in 1999 and even then we could see the destruction of so many unique indigenous communities and their cultures, including the Ukit tribe.
There was only one word to describe what had been done to these indigenous peoples and their centuries-old cultures... wicked!
Evil more like it! That's how Taib likes it!
Banned from my own country
As a result of my concern for the indigenous peoples and the natural resources of Sarawak, I was told at Kuching airport in August 2007 that I could not enter Sarawak. So much for 1Malaysia! So much for national integration! So much for nearly 50 years of independence! I was not even welcome in my own country.
As a threat to a multi-billion RM a year scam, of course you wouldn't be welcome. This is the land of divide and rule, not integration.
What independence? The natives of Sarawak have just traded one colonial master for another, albeit one of their own - Taib Mahmud - who has lorded it over them for more than 28 years. Taib has raided, looted and plundered Sarawak's timber resources, while the other Malayan colonial master BN has done the same to its petroleum resources.
Once Taib is gone, it won't be long before Sarawak starts asking for real independence.
But if the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal is anything to go by, the leaks and non-accountability all along the line will result in Malaysian taxpayers paying billions for the same kind of daylight robbery.
That is the name of the game and that is what we get for voting in such a government and continuing to keep them in power.
Taib Mahmud and his evil regime do not care and neither do the Malayan colonial masters in Putrajaya.
It makes no economic sense
The project was thus coupled with the proposal to build the world's longest (650km) undersea cable to transmit electricity to the peninsula. An aluminum smelter at Sarawak's coastal town of Bintulu was also proposed to take up the surplus energy.
In 1986, the project was abandoned because of the economic recession although the then PM Mahathir announced just before the UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that this was “proof of Malaysia's commitment to the environment”.
So what happened to that commitment, Mahathir?
Mahathir a man of commitment? Mahathir has all his life been committed only to grandscale corruption and deception.
Before long, it was announced that the Bakun dam would be a massive 205-metre high concrete face rockfill dam - one of the highest dams of its kind in the world - and it would flood an area the size of Singapore island.
Have feasibility studies been done to see if there will be adequate local, regional and international demand for all these products?
Six years later, after the economy was battered by the Asian Financial Crisis, the government again announced that the project would be resumed albeit on a smaller scale of 500MW capacity.
Before long in 2001, the 2,400MW scale was once again proposed although the submarine cable had been shelved. Today we read reports about the government and companies still contemplating this hare-brained undersea scheme which is now estimated to cost a whopping RM21 billion!
Once it is all under the sea, who's going to know exactly how much it really cost? That's the whole idea. If there are no mass protests, the costs could double or triple without any problem - it will all be justified.
More mega-dams to be built
The recent announcement that the Sarawak government intends to build two more mega-dams in Sarawak apart from the ill-fated Bakun dam is cause for grave concern.
Apart from the human cost, ultimately it will be the Malaysian consumers who pay for this expensive figment of Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud's wild imagination. Indeed, enough taxpayers' money has been wasted - Sarawak Hidro has already spent some RM1.5 billion on the Bakun dam project.
There is supposed to be a 43 percent oversupply of electricity capacity in peninsular Malaysia. Experienced Bakun dam watchers will tell you such conflicting and mutually contradictory assertions have been used by the dam proponents to justify every flip flop of this misconceived project.
All this doesn't matter.
The suggestion for aluminum smelters to take up the bulk of Bakun electricity have been mentioned ever since the conception of the Bakun dam project because they are such a voracious consumer of energy. Even so, has there ever been any proper assessment of the market viability of such a project with the cheaper operating costs in China?
This also does not matter.
This doesn't matter either.
Sarawak's tin-pot government
"Investing in" or "stealing from"?
Concerned NGOs have all along called for the abandonment of this monstrous Bakun dam project because it is economically ill-conceived, socially disruptive and environmentally disastrous.
The economic viability of the Bakun dam project has been in doubt from the beginning and the announcement to build two more dams merely reflects a cavalier disregard for the indigenous peoples, more desecration of Sarawak's natural resources and a blatant affront to sustainable development.
Does anyone think that they really care?
When will Malaysians ever learn?
When the damage becomes too big to be repaired, mere reform is out of the question and revolution is the only answer.