Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The 2nd Great Highway Robbery In Progress?

Asas Serba to brief Najib on Plus acquisition

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 29 — A proposed RM50 billion takeover of Malaysia’s highway concessionaires has taken on a new twist with its promoters now cleared to brief Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on their plans sometime this week.

Only a month ago, the plan appeared doomed after Najib publicly squelched the plan, telling reporters that state investment agency Khazanah “has no plans” to sell Plus Expressways. Plus is the largest of the country’s 22 highway concessionaire companies and Khazanah, through wholly-owned United Engineers Malaysia, holds 64 per cent of the highway firm.

Rising tolls nationwide have been massively unpopular and Najib’s administration had been looking for ways to solve what could potentially be a threat to his government’s popularity in the next general election slated for 2013. One way, which was being actively studied by the Economic Planning Unit, was for the government to take over some of the more busy highways including Plus.

According to the firm’s allies, Najib is now interested because Asas Serba’s bid could be cheaper than the government’s. In addition, its entry would mean that the government, which is facing a budget deficit, would walk away with money. Finally, Asas Serba’s allies argued that the government has no business getting involved in mature businesses and, instead, should concentrate on infrastructure projects that create new jobs and spin off new businesses.

The story began in May or thereabouts when Asas Serba proposed to the Works Ministry that it acquire all 22 highway concessionaire companies for a jaw-dropping RM50 billion. Asas is a private firm manned by four businessmen, two of whom are former senior executives of the former Renong conglomerate.

Before it was nationalised in 2001, Renong owned Plus Expressways, which manages a highway running down the length of Peninsular Malaysia. It is the largest and most profitable toll concession in the country.

Out of the 22 companies, only Plus is owned by the government with the rest being held by private firms, some listed on the stock exchange. Given that position, most analysts believe that Asas Serba’s bid hinges on the acquisition of Plus and Plus alone.

The firm’s allies said that Asas, if successful, would lower toll rates in perpetuity by 20 per cent in return for a longer concession period.

Still, the private firm would require funding which could be tricky without tacit government support. Moreover, Khazanah, which is chaired by Najib, is likely to oppose the deal. Plus is the crown jewel in the United Engineers group with free cash flows expected to rise to RM1.8 billion next year. — Business Times Singapore

See also Sarawak Headhunter's post "The 2nd Great Highway Robbery".

Monday, September 28, 2009

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Hole The Size Of Singapore In The Middle Of Sarawak

Kua Kia Soong
Sep 22, 09

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!

The English did it with brutality and thoroughness through “butcher” Lord Cumberland and even obliterated the 'wild' Celtic mode of life.

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.

penan blockade in sarawak loggingThus, 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.

Well, there is a reason for this - the contract for the Sungai Asap camp had already been given out to a multinational company. After all, the whole Bakun area, which is the size of the island of Singapore and home to the indigenous peoples, had already been thoroughly logged...

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.

bakun dam resettlement sungai asap 051107But the contracts for the resettlement scheme and the logging are chicken feed compared to the mega-bucks to be reaped from the mega-dams. Even before the Bakun dam ever got started, Malaysian taxpayers had to compensate dam builder Ekran Bhd and the other “stakeholders” close to RM1 billion in 1997.

How much does it cost to pay our 'mata-mata' (police) to investigate the alleged scandalous rape of our Penan women?

The contracts from building the Bakun dam and the undersea cable run in excess of RM20 billion. Malaysian taxpayers won't know the final cost until they are told the cost overruns when the projects have been completed.

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.

bakun dam scale model of completed project 301007In the early 90s, when the government was trying to assure us that there would be no irresponsible logging in Sarawak, I pointed out in Parliament that if the government could not monitor the Bukit Sungai Putih permanent forest and wildlife reserve just 10 minutes from Kuala Lumpur, how did they expect us to believe they could monitor the forests in Bakun?

Likewise today, if the government cannot monitor a project in Port Klang just half an hour from Kuala Lumpur, how can they assure us that they can monitor a project deep in upriver Sarawak and through 650km of the South China Sea?

How can we be assured that we will get to the bottom of politically-linked scandals when the Sarawak police tell us they don't have the resources to investigate the rape of Penan women and girls?

How can we be assured that the Sarawak state government cares about its indigenous peoples and its natural resources when NGO activists are banned from entering Sarawak to investigate a part of their own country?

Taib Mahmud and his evil regime do not care and neither do the Malayan colonial masters in Putrajaya.

It makes no economic sense

In 1980, the Bakun dam was proposed with a power generating capacity of 2,400MW even though the projected energy needs for the whole of Sarawak was only 200MW for 1990.

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.

In 1993, with the upturn in the Malaysian economy, the government once again announced the revival of the Bakun dam project. To cushion the expected protests, then Energy Minister S Samy Vellu gave Parliament a poetic description of a “series of cascading dams” and not one large dam as had been originally proposed.

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.

bakun dam electrical cable lines from sarawak to semenanjung malaysiaThe undersea cable was again part of the project. There was also a plan for an aluminum plant, a pulp and paper plant, the world's biggest steel plant and a high-tension and high-voltage wire industry.

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.

penan blockade in sarawak loggingMalaysian taxpayers, Malaysian forests and Malaysian indigenous peoples will again be the main victims of this misconceived plan. We have been told that some 1,000 more indigenous peoples will have to be displaced from their ancestral lands to make way for these two dams.

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.

It is no longer a figment of Taib's wild imagination but is in the process of being implemented right now. Only his defeat in the next State elections will stop it.

penan benalih baram blockade logged forest 280807 barrenRight now, the country is being fed conflicting reports about energy demand.

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.

Apart from the economic cost and the wastage, how are investors supposed to plan for the long-term and medium term? What is the long-term plan for Bakun? Can Bakun compete with the rest of the world or for that matter, Indonesia?

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.

laila taib mahmud sulaiman taib 290409 electionDoes it matter that the co-owner of one of the smelters is none other than Cahaya Mata Sarawak (CMS) Bhd Group, a conglomerate controlled by Taib's family business interest?

This doesn't matter either.

Sarawak's tin-pot government

Clearly, Bakun energy and Sarawak's tin-pot governance do not give confidence to investors. First it was Alcoa, and then Rio Tinto - both giant mining multinationals - had expressed second thoughts about investing in Sarawak.

"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 environmental destruction is evident many miles downstream since the whole Bakun area has been logged by those who have already been paid by Sarawak Hidro.

sam bakun catchment 210607 long pelutanThe social atrophy among the 10,000 displaced indigenous peoples at Sungai Asap resettlement scheme remains the wicked testimony of the Mahathir/Taib era. The empty promises and damned lives of the displaced peoples as forewarned by NGOs in 1999 have now been borne out.

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.

Dr KUA KIA SOONG is director of Suaram. He was member of parliament for Petaling Jaya from 1990 to 1995.

Dam Facts



The Sarawak Government plans to build more hydro-electric dams purportedly to meet the state’s future industrialisation needs. In addition to the Bakun dam project, the Sarawak Government are planning to build another 12 hydro-electric dams at Ulu Air, Metjawah, Belaga, Baleh, Belepeh, Lawas, Tutoh, Limbang, Baram, Murum and Linau rivers including an extension to the Batang Ai Dam.

Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), 65 percent owned by the Sarawak is spearheading these dam projects.

The project

The Batang Baram is the second longest river in Sarawak. The river drains much of the Sarawak northern region as it originates in the central Iran Mountains at the Sarawak/Malaysia-Kalimantan/Indonesia border. It flows westwards through tropical rainforest in the Baram District to the South China Sea. The Miri Resort City is located at Baram delta.

The Baram Hydroelectric dam site is located along Baram River at about 306 Km from the river mouth. The location of the dam across the Baram River will be between the inflows of the Sungai Patah and Sungai Kahah from the left and Sungai Hit from the right, as going upstream.

The height of the main Baram dam would be 162 m above foundation level. The dam structure across the Baram River has a crest length of 685 m and the crest level is 180 m above sea level. The construction would be designed as a roller-compacted concrete (RCC) gravity dam. Due to the topographical conditions in the project area, a 70m high Saddle dam will be constructed approximately 5 Km south-west of the project site.

Who will be affected by the Baram dam?

If the project goes ahead, an anticipated number of at least 20,000 indigenous peoples will be affected and displaced by the dam. These peoples are the Kayans, Kenyahs and Penans whose longhouses and villages are situated along the course of Baram River valley, locally known as Telang Usan. Their settlements are located below, above and around the project site.

The downstream longhouses/villages are Long Laput, Sungai Dua, Sri Kenawan, Uma Bawang, Long Miri (Daleh Pelutan), Long Pilah and Long Kesseh. In the upstream and within the dam reservoir area are Long Na’ah, Long Liam, Long San, Long Selatong (Kiri & Kanan), Long Apu, Long Julan Asal, Long Julan Pelutan, Long Anap, Long Palai, Long Je’eh, Long Moh, Long Sela’an and Long Semiyang as well as some villages in Akah River that are Long Beku, Ba Abang, Long Tap and Long Tebangan.

The Baram dam would submerge an area of 38,900 hectares (389 sq km) of land and forest. The area is mostly native customary land, and consists of temuda, cultivated lands, gardens, villages, churches, graveyards, community forests and sites of historical significance. The people are going to lose their longhouses, villages, properties, lands and forests as a result of submergence and displacement by the Baram dam.

The construction of the Baram dam will create a catchment area of 896,600 hectares (8,966 sq km). Within the catchment area are some major settlements of indigenous communities: the Kenyahs, Kelabits, Sabens and Penans.

The dam will submerge the existing government schools, Medical clinics, airstrip and other building facilities. There are also logging companies actively operating in the area.

Baram Dam Project Features:

Main dam

Type RCC

Crest of dam 180 m a.s.1.

Height of dam 162 m

Length of dam 685 m

Saddle dam

Type Rockfill

Crest of dam 180 m a.s.l.

Height of dam 70 m

Length of dam 1,290 m


Normal water level 178 m a.s.1.

Minimum water level 177 m a.s.1.

Total storage volume 13,2 x 109 rn3

Reservoir area 389 sq km

Power plant

Installed capacity 830 MW

Design discharge 684 m3/s

Design head 138 m

Average energy generation 5,848 GWh/a

Turbine type Francis –vertical axis

Number of units 4

Catchment Areas 8,966 sq km




The Murum hydroelectric project (Murum HEP) involves the construction of a 944 MW hydroelectric dam. The dam is the 1st of 12 new more dams to be built by the State Government of Sarawak. The construction work of the dam has been going on since mid-2008. The dam site is on the Murum River, a tributary of Balui River, about 60 KM upstream of the Bakun Hydroelectric project in Belaga District, Kapit Division of Sarawak.


The Murum dam is a 141-metre-high Roller-Compacted Concrete (RCC) dam that would be 547 metres above sea level, with a length of crest of 510 metres and crest width of 10 metres. It will flood 24,5000 hectares of land comprising native customary land and forest. The dam catchment area is 275,000 hectares of mainly the Usun Apau Plateau, the ancestral land of several Indigenous communities in Sarawak.


The project will inundate and require the forced relocation of about 1,000 Penans. There is also some Kenyah-Badengs, who were affected by Bakun dam but have opted for alternative resettlement after refusing to move to the government Bakun Resettlement Scheme at Asap-Koyan in upper Belaga River in 1998.


The Sarawak Government has the sole vested interest, being the project proponent and the Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), 65 percent owned by the Sarawak state. The Murum Dam project had been awarded to China’s Three Gorges Project Corporation, which reportedly submitted the lowest bid among eight companies.

The estimated cost of Murum dam project is RM3 billion (875 million USD). To be completed in 2013.

Kenyataan Akbar Penan Murum

Telang Usan Hotel

Kuching, Sarawak.

Tarikh: 15 September 2009

Salam hormat. Selamat pagi kepada tuan-tuan, puan-puan dan suadara-saudari kalian.

Saya bersama kawan-kawan sangat gembira kerana berpeluang dapat berjumpa dengan semua kalian pada majlis yang sangat bersejarah ini. Bagi kami, ini adalah kali pertama sampai ke Bandaraya Kuching.

Untuk makluman semua, kami adalah wakil semua penduduk kampung-kampung Penan di kawasan Sungai Peleiran-Murum, Daerah Belaga, Sarawak. Kampung kami adalah Long Wat, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu, Long Malim dan Long Uba dengan bilangan penduduk adalah kurang lebih 1,000 orang.

Kami datang ke Bandaraya Kuching kali ini bukan datang dengan senang hati namun penuh dengan kebimbangan, kerisauan dan ketangisan. Kami membawa keluhan-keluhan hati semua penduduk kampung Penan di kawasan Sungai Peleiran kerana sangat bimbang dengan kehidupan kami sejak bermulanya kerja-kerja pembinaan projek empangan Murum dijalankan.

Sekiranya projek empangan Murum masih diteruskan, maka takungan air akibat empangan akan membanjiri tanah adat kami termasuklah kampung-kampung, harta benda, kebun-kebun, tanah huma dan temuda, buah-buahan, tapak perkuburan dan sebagainya. Kawasan hutan dan sumber-sumber yang mendukung kehidupan kami akan turut musnah. Sekaligus, kami akan dipaksa untuk berpindah ke suatu kawasan yang belum kami ketahui dan tidak bersesuaian dengan keadaan kehidupan kami.

Kami masyarakat Penan juga mahu mencapai kemajuan sepertimana masyarakat lain di Malaysia, khasnya Sarawak. Selama ini, kami sentiasa memohon kepada kerajaan untuk memberi projek pembangunan seperti Sekolah, Klinik Perubatan, Paip air bersih, Pertanian dan sebagainya. Kami tidak pernah memohon pembangunan projek empangan hidro-elektrik seperti empangan Murum.

Kami sedar bahawa projek pembangunan empangan yang telah dibina di Sarawak telah dengan nyatanya gagal memperbaiki keadaan hidup masyarakat yang terlibat. Contohnya, penduduk-penduduk di Skim Penempatan Semula Batang Ai dan Bakun Asap-Koyan sedang menghadapi banyak masalah, kesusahan dan kesempitan dalam kehidupan harian mereka yang sehingga kini masih belum dapat diselesai oleh pihak kerajaan.

Kami juga menyaksi bahawa keadaan kehidupan masyarakat Penan Talun, Long Belangan di Skim Penempatan Semula Bakun Asap-Koyan lebih teruk lagi dibanding dengan sebelum-nya mereka dipaksa pindah akibat pembinaan empangan hidro-elektrik Bakun.

Bagi kami masyarakat Penan di kawasan Sungai Peleiran-Murum juga akan tidak terkecuali dari masalah-masalah dan impak-impak projek empangan sekiranya kerajaan masih hendak meneruskan pembinaan empangan Murum.

Kami sangat bimbang akan kesan-kesan dan impak-impak projek empangan Murum ke atas masa depan masyarakat dan generasi kami.

Dengan ini, kami menuntut Kerajaan untuk menghentikan pembinaan empangan hidro-elektrik Murum demi kesejahteraan hidup masyarakat kami pada masa sekarang dan sehingga ke anak cucu kami kelak.

Sekian, terima kasih.

Kenyataan akhbar dibaca oleh:

Sui Along,

Wakil TK Along Ju dan 6 kampung Penan yang lain di kawasan Peleiran-Murum, Daerah Belaga, Sarawak.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Hari Raya Message To Taib From A Friend

A Hari Raya Message to Pehin Sri Taib Mahmud

Dear Taib, my friend,

Allow me to call you my friend even though we never met! As more and more people in Sarawak are treating you as the Public Enemy No. 1, I think you really do need friends like me. Hence I address you as my friend.

Hari Raya is coming. Ramadan has been achieved, that is if you have observed it strictly in accordance with the Holy Koran. The Almighty Allah shall shower you with all His blessings, if you are walking in the righteous path.

Talking on the righteous path, have you prayed five times a day to Allah, nowadays? What have you received after these prayers? Yes, if you have prayed properly and sincerely and repent, you will know what Allah wants you to do! Yes, he wants you to repent and give back all the money you took from the people of Sarawak!

During the past year, Allah the Almighty has called the coming home of your beloved Laila and your granddaughter. From Allah we come, to Allah we shall go. This is the unchangeable rule since time immemorial. This also means your leaving this world in the not too distant future.

Before you depart, I would like to remind you, as a true friend that, when your time comes, all the things in this world, you will have to leave them behind. Born into this world as a naked baby, you will die leaving this world without anything in your hands, except the cloth that wrapped your wretched carcass. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes!

I like Ramadan. It always makes me feel nearer to the Almighty Allah. The hunger makes me feel so vulnerable without food. The Buka Puasa makes me feel the greatness of the Almighty Allah. The sharing of food makes me feel the joy of seeing other fellow human beings happy. It is not only the food that you have to share. It is also the wealth.

Allah the Almighty does not prohibit any one from accumulating wealth on this earth. In fact He encourages it. However, you must not steal and cheat. That, you know, is haram!

As your good friend (though again, I regret I have never met you, since it is forever so difficult to get an appointment to see you), it is my sincere hope to you that you will repent and give back all that you have unjustly taken from the people of Sarawak. Give up politics. Give up your Chief Ministership. Be benevolent to all your fellow Sarawakians. Retire and enjoy your limited days on earth!

May Allah the Almighty shower you with abundant grace in the coming days, upon your repentence!

Your good friend,
Kuching Kia

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya 2009

Selamat Hari Raya 2009

To All Sarawak Headhunter's Muslim Friends & Foes Alike

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Interhill Logging's Violations

International probe uncovers Malaysian loggers' offences

An independent review commissioned by Europe's leading tourism group, Accor, confirms that Interhill Logging, a Sarawak logging group, is routinely violating the forest legislation and failing to comply with internationally acknowledged social and environmental standards.

The review has been undertaken following accusations by indigenous Penan communities in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak that Interhill Logging was violating their rights and damaging their forest environment. Interhill employees have also been accused of intimidating the locals and of sexually abusing Penan girls and women. The Paris-based Accor group subsequently drew public criticism for its cooperation with Interhill on the construction of the "Pullman Interhill", a 23-storey luxury hotel in Sarawak's state capital of Kuching.

The report shows that Interhill's logging operations in Sarawak's Middle Baram region lack the free, prior and informed consent of the local communities. Conflicts between the company and the local communities have arisen on numerous issues, including the logging of community forest reserves, the felling of fruit and poison-dart trees, the pollution of drinking water supplies, the non-payment of adequate compensation and a lack of transparency with regard to the quantity of logs harvested. While the review provides details of how Penan have been intimidated by logging company officials, it does not draw any conclusions regarding the issue of sexual abuse, making reference to the official investigations into this matter.

Logging operations "very definitely not sustainable"

According to the review, Interhill entered the 61,000-hectare concession in Sarawak's Middle Baram region in 2002, immediately after another logging company had logged the area twice within ten years. Interhill expects to cut a total of 940,000 cubic metres of logs (20 tons per hectare) by 2013, whereas 2.2 million cubic metres (60 tons per hectare) had already been removed from the Penan's forests between 1989 and 2001.

Right from the start, the review underlines the fact that "logging in natural forest on such short cycles is very definitely not sustainable as can be seen from the reduced harvest volumes being achieved by Interhill compared to the much higher volumes achieved ten years ago (...)." It concludes that certification according to the internationally acknowledged FSC standards was out of the question, with the lack of long-term land tenure being another reason why such logging operations could not qualify as being sustainable.

While stating that "the forest is inevitably suffering degradation" from Interhill's operations and that the future of the forest is "already threatened", the review implicitly criticizes the fact that the Sarawak Government permits short cycle re-entry. Peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia, by comparison, do not allow re-entry logging within a period of 35 years.

Compliance with the law in some cases minimal or absent

According to the review, Interhill Logging does not comply with the legal requirements as defined by Sarawak's Natural Resources and Environment Board: "Field observation indicated that full compliance was not being achieved and in some cases was minimal or absent".

While the review thus states that Interhill is committing a number of illegal acts, it fails to specify which legal requirements have not been met by the loggers. One major offence appears to be the company's failure to acquaint itself with the boundaries of the Native Customary Rights lands within the logging concession, as stipulated in the logging licence.

Another shortcoming of the review is that it fails to provide basic documentary evidence, such as the logging licence, the forest management plan or an apparently existing Environmental Impact Assessment Report. While Sarawak's logging industry is used to operating under a cloud of secrecy, the provision of such documents would be required for an external review to be credible and transparent. International standards for public access to environmental information were set out by the United Nations in the 1998 Aarhus Convention.

Logging fails to contribute to long-term development

Whereas the review suggests that the local communities derive some kind of benefit and compensation from Interhill's logging operations, the distribution of compensation is being handled arbitrarily, with several communities insisting they have not been compensated at all. It is significant to note that Interhill fails to keep records of the compensation allegedly provided to the communities.

More importantly, the review concludes that "there is no inherent long term development advantage" from the social benefits provided by the company: "When Interhill eventually completes the logging and presumably withdraws from the concession area, the Penan will be deprived of the current benefits received and are unlikely to have achieved much to elevate themselves from their current status, described by the Marudi District Officer as being among Malaysia's hard-core poor."

Sarawak's legal framework deeply unjust towards the local communities

While this review exposes a number of legal offences and shortcomings relating to a specific logging company, it must be borne in mind that Interhill is profiting from a deeply unjust legal and political framework that systematically disadvantages and discriminates against the indigenous communities.

It is generally acknowledged that Sarawak's forest legislation by no means fosters sustainability and that forest law enforcement is a serious problem. It is thus not surprising that the review states that official inspections of Interhill's operations "do not appear to be routinely conducted and are perhaps only very cursory" and that "the pressure to comply with legally required terms and conditions is not great."

Among the logging companies active in Sarawak, Interhill is a medium player, and other companies might engage in even worse behaviour. The Penan point, in particular, to misdeeds committed by Rimex, a company that had been logging the area before 2002, and by Samling, a multinational logging giant that is active in several adjacent concessions and shares logging roads and a timber camp with Interhill.

Conclusions and demands formulated by the Bruno Manser Fund

The Bruno Manser Fund welcomes the release of the independent review and thanks Accor for facilitating a dialogue process involving all the stakeholders, of which the current review marks an initial outcome. It must, however, be borne in mind that Interhill – and subsequently Accor as its business partner – will be judged by deeds and not by words.

For a company like Interhill, corporate social responsibility must first and foremost mean respecting the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the local communities. All measures must be undertaken from a long-term perspective, permitting the local communities to engage in sustainable development in what is already a heavily damaged forest environment, even after the expiry of the current logging licence in 2013.

In practical terms, the Bruno Manser Fund asks Interhill

- to scale down its logging operations with immediate effect and to remove all machinery from areas in which the company lacks the free, prior and informed consent of the local communities.

- to remove from the field all employees who have intimidated the locals or who have factually or allegedly been involved in cases of sexual abuse.

- to stop denying that sexual abuse is a serious problem for the indigenous communities and to fully comply with and actively support police investigations.

- to acknowledge that the local communities, in particular the Penan, have legitimate claims to the forests within the Interhill concession and to refrain from legal action that is directed against the Penan's land claims.

As for the social benefits and compensation owed by Interhill to the local communities for its past and current logging operations, a solution will have to be negotiated between the actors involved. Social benefits and compensation should be aimed at empowering the local communities and must not be allowed to corrupt indiviuals or to increase the communities’ dependency on the logging company.

(15 September 2009)

Interhill Mission Report.pdf (295KB)

Taib Will Not Listen To The Plight Of The Natives

Posted by admin, Malaysia Today
Thursday, 17 September 2009 21:08

On the day that Malaysia was formed, 15 indigenous peoples who stood for four hours outside the Chief Minister’s office on behalf of longhouses and villages in Sarawak that would be affected by two proposed dams were arrested outside the office of the Chief Minister as they waited to submit a simple memorandum. Among those arrested were JOAS (Malaysian Indigenous People's Network) leaders Mark Bujang (BRIMAS), Raymond Abin (SCAN) and Hellan Empaing (WADESA) who were there in support of the Penan, Iban, Kayan and Kenyah representatives of the affected communities.

"We came to Kuching city to give a memo to the Chief Minister because we were not happy with the Murum Dam construction. If this continues, our lands will drown, and how are we supposed to live and survive? This memo contains our concerns so that the state government can listen to our worries." said Sui Along, Penan representative from Long Luar, a village in the affected area of Murum.

The police arrested the 15 after receiving a call from the Chief Minister’s office. After being held for seven hours without food and water by local police, they were charged with illegal assembly and released on bail. They will be expected to appear in court on 29 September 2009.

The proposed Murum dam is the first of 12 new proposed dams to be built throughout Sarawak. Quickly announced by the government after NGOs found plans on these dams on internet websites of the Chinese contractors, these dams were planned without prior consultation of the affected communities, let alone the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples on whose lands these dams would be built. In its inception, the still constructed and highly controversial Bakun dam was touted as being able to supply the energy needs of Malaysia, bringing into question the need for an additional 12 dams.

Rubbishing state leader claims that local NGOs had instigated the incident, BRIMAS Executive Director Mark Bujang said that they had responded to the communities because no one else wanted to listen. “We brought these remote communities together in Kuching to discuss their common concerns. For many of them, this was the first time they had come down to the city centre and they stated to us they wanted their concerns to be heard by representatives of the government and so we lent moral support to them.”

SCANE Director Raymond Abin said that when the representatives of the local government refused to listen, the communities wanted to come to Kuching. “Now that we have come all the way here to where our government leaders are, they still refuse to listen to us,” he said. “This questions their sincerity in saying they are concerned about listening to the indigenous peoples of Sarawak.”

JOAS President Adrian Lasimbang said the arrest and blatant intimidation of the indigenous peoples showed clearly the lack of commitment by the state government to internationally recognized frameworks of consent and consultation that form part of the collective rights of indigenous peoples and added that “In solidarity with JOANGOHUTAN, we support the call to the EU to suspend FLEG negotiations with Malaysia in view of the flagrant disregard of the government for free, prior informed consent and consultation with communities affected by logging and by development projects. We additionally call for the Malaysian government to review its policies to ensure that international law, especially those concerning human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples, is mainstreamed.” This violation is contradictory to article 32 (2) of the UNDRIP that stated States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.

The full list of indigenous peoples detained are: Mark Bujang (Executive Director of Borneo Research Institute, BRIMAS), Hellan Empaing (President of Wanita Desa Sarawak, WADESA), Dominic Ng, Johannes Ya, Rukka anak Laku, Philan Yau, Nan Evan, Simon Saging, Ramly anak Datuk, Abin Bira, Sui Alloh, Nang Buleng, Panai Irang, Bujang Dalong, and Koleh Ngo.

BRIMAS – Borneo Resources Institute, Sarawak’s leading NGO and supporting NGO to JOAS

SCANE – Sarawak Conservation Network, a coalition of leading environmental and indigenous rights organizations in Sarawak

JOANGOHUTAN – Network of Indigenous Peoples and NonGovernmental Oragnizations on Forest Issues

WADESA – Sarawak Native Women’s Association

Friday, September 18, 2009

Senyum Kambing - Kereta Lembu 1Malaysia

Sarawak Dam Protestors Arrested Outside Taib's Office


16 September 2009


The Penan have been struggling for decades 
to prevent the destruction of their land ©Survival

At least fourteen people, including six members of the Penan tribe, were arrested in Malaysia today as they tried to voice their opposition to hydroelectric dams that will force them off their land.

The group of indigenous people and activists were arrested outside the offices of the Chief Minister of the state of Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of Borneo. They were attempting to hand in a statement calling on the government to stop the construction of dams that are to flood the land of many Penan and other tribespeople, destroying their forest and burial grounds. Over 600 Penan have added their signatures to the protest.

Raymond Abin of the Sarawak Conservation Action Network was one of those arrested. Speaking from police custody, he told Survival that they had not been allowed to hand in the statement, so had waited outside. After four hours, the Chief Minister’s office called the police and they were arrested. No charges had so far been made against them.

One Penan man told Survival earlier this year, ‘This land is my ancestral land. It has been used by Penan for ten generations. We don’t want to move, and we don’t want to give this land to anyone.’ The people of his village have been told they must move to make way for the Murum dam, which is already being built by the controversial Chinese state-owned China Three Gorges Project Corporation.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘Survival is extremely concerned that the Penan and others have been arrested for trying to voice their concerns about these dams which, if completed, will devastate their lives. Instead of locking them up, the Malaysian government should listen to them.’

In a separate development, Malaysian police are reported to have dismantled three road blockades mounted in August by twelve Penan communities against the logging and plantation companies that are destroying their forest.


To read this story online:

See also these related postings from Sarawak Headhunter's archives:

"Damn Taib!"

"Natives Of Sarawak In Any Of These Dam Areas, Beware!"

"Chief Minister & Sons Berhad & The Sarawak Dams"

"Resettled Bakun Natives Disappointed By Taib's Government"
"Sarawak - Land Of The Dammed"

"The Continuing Gang Rape Of Sarawak By Taib & His Family, Henchmen & Cronies & Chinese State-Owned Companies"

Senyum Kambing - Penan Dihasut 'Orang Luar' - Lihan Jok

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sarawak To Propel Taib's Family's Future

Sabah, S’wak to propel nation’s future: CM

By Puvaneswary Devindran

Comments by Sarawak Headhunter in red, as usual.

KUCHING: Efforts from Sabah and Sarawak - through their ample reservoir of natural resources - will help a lot in ascertaining the future direction of the country, Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said yesterday.

OATH-TAKING: A representative leads the stadium in reciting the Rukun Negara. — Photo by Jeffrey Mostapa

He said the natural resources in East Malaysia were yet to be fully exploited, adding that if they could be pooled and used well, both states would certainly contribute more wealth to the rest of the country.

"Exploited" is one of the key words here. "Fully" is another. The crucial question is "for whose benefit?". Haven't these states already contributed more than their fair share of their natural resources to the rest of the country and the rest of it to Taib, his family and their cronies while a significant portion of their people still remain deprived, poor and oppressed?

With all the wealth of Sarawak, the irony and sad fact is that many Sarawakians are still so poor that they can't even afford basic necessities or to send their children to school to ensure a better life for themselves. And Taib wants to "fully exploit" our resources for us to contribute more to the wasteful and extravagant Malayans? Not to mention to himself, his family and cronies.

We must seriously ask ourselves what kind of government do we have here and for whose benefit do we have such a government, both at the federal and state levels. Whose interests does Taib's and the BN's regime serve, the people's or their own?

“We know that the future of Malaysia will be ascertained through efforts from East Malaysia because our natural resources are yet to be fully exploited,” he said at the state-level National Day Celebration at Stadium Perpaduan here.

The future of his family will also depend on it. How much more of the State's resources - the people's resources - will they be able to fully exploit? Are Sarawakians going to continue to let them get away with it?

Taib, who is also Abuse of Finance Minister and Planning, Scheming and Resource MisManagement Minister, said Sarawak would also play a vital role in the country’s High Income Economy (HIE) structure - an effort to bring Malaysia on par with developed countries by making use of the people’s intelligence and skills rather than their physical strength.

REALLY? And how is this purported HIE going to be distributed? Or will it just be controlled by his family and their selected cronies?

The Chief Minister said this would be the state’s struggle because it realised that Sarawakians could not progress by depending entirely on monetary assistance and budget plans from the federal government alone, but rather the will to work at securing their fate.

Monetary assistance and budget plans from the federal government? A federal government that has been exploiting and wasting to the maximum the petroleum resources of Sarawak? Who has been assisting whom?

Sarawak's fate will certainly be sealed if the exploitation continues. Taib and the BN regime have to go!

Taib said in its second wave of politics of development by 2030, the state was aiming for an investment worth more than RM380 billion. Of this, he said the government would only fork out RM70 billion, while the rest was expected to come from investors - be they foreign or local.

Of this multi-hundred billion investment, how much would go into private pockets and how much would really benefit the people? What would the returns be like for the people?

He said the huge investments would provide close to one and a half million job opportunities.

Who would the people have to work for and enslave their future to? Taib Mahmud and his arrogant and ungrateful family and cronies?

“We know that our money in the state is not enough, and as such most of it will be from investors.

“So we must prepare ourselves to face questions on how safe it is for them to put their money here,” he said.

What he means is how safe is his family's fortune going to be in the future in Sarawak?

He said investors would want to know the political situation in the state, the unity of the people and also whether the state had people with the necessary knowledge and skills.

This would all depend on whether the people still remain ignorant of what Taib is, has and will be doing to exploit them or whether they would be able to forge the necessary will and unity of purpose to overthrow him and his evil regime.

The chief minister added that investors would also want to ensure the state’s leaders were responsible individuals who would place the country’s development first rather than their own political agenda.

Right, and Taib is a reasonable man who puts the State's development first rather than his own personal and political agenda. Anyone believe that?

He said the state had managed to convince and draw some investors who could probably be putting in some RM100 billion worth of investments in various types of industries.

It certainly wouldn't take much convincing if "full exploitation" is going to be the order of the day for these selected and fortunate investors - all at the expense of the people and the State's resources.

As such, he said Sarawakians should focus on one struggle and that was to meet these investors’ criteria and prove time and time again that the state was a place worth investing in.

Basically, what Taib is saying is just let them have what they want and on top of that be grateful to them for wanting to take the trouble to rape, loot and pillage the State.

Taib added that the first 45 years of Sarawak being in Malaysia had featured the state as the most promising economy in Malaysia.

Promising for whom?

He hoped the people would continue to work together to protect this.

For the sake of his family and their cronies.

People of Sarawak, if you don't wake up NOW, it will be too late!

The Taib and family termite infestation will eat up the rest of the forest that still remains while the Malayan pests will continue to feed, gorge themselves on and vomit whatever is left of our depleting petroleum resources.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rule Of Law Or Law Of The Jungle?

The rule of law and judicial independence, or lack thereof – Anwar Ibrahim

SEPT 15 – Today, I would like to share with you some thoughts about a subject which I believe is close to our hearts. Not just to politicians, lawyers or social workers but to every member of society.

It is so close that, without it, the very foundation of a free and democratic society crumbles. It is called the rule of law.

According to F.A. Hayek, this means that government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances, and to plan one’s individual affair on the basis of this knowledge.

That definition is indeed a powerful formulation of the concept but I would hasten to add a major rider to it, which is, that the coercive powers referred to must be predicated on the basis that the laws in the first place must meet the criterion of justness.

Hence the rule of law means the exercise of publicly justifiable power. I emphasise the phrase “publicly justifiable power” because not every law that comes out of Parliament is publicly justifiable.

In other words, the rule of law requires the application of moral standards to legislative output. And this is because every individual possesses rights founded on justice which are inviolable.

The positivity of law is not sufficient to establish its lawfulness. If laws are unjust then the rule of law itself is in jeopardy.

The Internal Security Act is a classic instance of this injustice. It offends against human dignity and it violates our fundamental rights but it still continues to be used arbitrarily against those seen as possible threats to the ruling elite.

We have a written constitution which guarantees our liberties, including freedom from arbitrary arrest. Yet the use of the ISA to silence political dissent makes a mockery of this guarantee.

Just two months ago, we witnessed one of the largest manifestations of the people’s opposition to this draconian law but tragically, the Umno-controlled agencies responded with even greater use of tyranny and oppression.

So among the paramount characteristics of the rule of law concerns the judiciary. In this regard, judges must exercise their powers in accordance with the rule of law and not the rule of men.

Translated into the real world, this means the judiciary must not be accountable to the Prime Minister. If the rule of law is to mean anything, one of the essential prerequisites is that the judiciary must be independent.

We saw back in 1988 how the institution was dealt a fatal blow by the powers that be then and we saw in 1998 how it was not just I who was given a black eye but the judiciary itself, thanks to the perverse decisions of two High Court judges then.

These are the same judges who now warm the seats of our Appellate courts, enjoying the fruits of their perversity, as it were. Is it then any wonder that today history is again repeating itself?

We would have thought that the lessons of March 8 2008 would have taught the political masters some fundamental truths regarding the legitimate expectations of the people. One of which is that the people don’t want to see the judicial process turned into a circus. We are tired of seeing judges as mere puppets dancing to the tune of the political masters.

The latest instance of this judicial aberration can be seen in the decision just last week in respect of the suit filed by the legitimate Pakatan speaker over the Perak debacle on May 7, 2009. The court held that in accordance with Article 72 of the Federal Constitution, “the validity of any proceeding in any state assembly cannot be questioned in any court”.

Well, that indeed sounds very impressive and laudable in the context of respecting the concept of the separation of powers. But then why is it that, in the same breath, the court also held that the legislative assembly’s decision to remove the speaker and to appoint someone else was conclusive and had been fairly determined by the state assembly?

I have heard of judges making wrong decisions based on a misinterpretation of the law but I don’t recall judges blowing hot and blowing cold in the same judgement.

In coming to this conclusion, we may say that the court has sunk into the abyss of judicial reasoning displaying in the process clear symptoms of judicial schizophrenia.

The question now is not whether we should challenge such a decision. Indeed we must, but I believe even more importantly, there is a moral duty to speak out against such a gross travesty of justice.

In practical terms, judicial independence must mean protecting citizens against illegitimate usurpation of power. Indeed, the travesty of justice that continues to plague us in the Perak debacle remains a stark reminder that the separation of powers envisaged in a democracy remains largely a mirage in the constitutional landscape.

The topic of our gathering tonight is the launch of this important book and recognition of its author, a dear friend of mine, Pawancheek Marican. It is of course rare to find in today’s Malaysia such a comprehensive account of an event so controversial in our nation’s history.

Applying no varnish to the entire sordid affair I believe this text will be a signpost for generations of Malaysians on the dangers of absolute power. He has also paid a great tribute to the the legal team that defended not just me but an entire nation against the onslaught of executive power run amok. For those present and absent who had a hand in the trial and particulary the lawyers, words cannot convey the deep gratitude that I, Azizah and my family have for their work – which I might add is not yet done.

Now with reference to the trials prosecuted against me, as so well documented in Pawancheek’s book, suffice it to say that the judges were essentially under the thumb of the Executive. There is a saying that when the law is subjugated to the chicanery of politics, that is, where the judges are subservient to the political masters, the administration of justice becomes both farcical and perverse.

In a real democracy, the use of judicial high-handedness to bring down a political opponent won’t be tolerated because of the existence of a transparent court system and a process of accountability. In a sham democracy, however, judicial highhandedness is given free rein and transparency is irrelevant. Those prosecuted for political reasons are thus condemned even before the trial begins. It is not just about me or some of our friends here today.

There are now a few other high profile cases pending. For example, the persecution of Raja Petra will certainly be top on the list of the study on the breakdown of the rule of law. I emphasise the word ‘persecution’ because the manner in which he is being hounded is no longer prosecution but sheer audacious use of blatant state powers in order to bring down one one of the government’s most strident and vocal critics. These actions violate the dignity and honour of all Malaysians.

Instead of being the ultimate guardians of our liberty from executive tyranny, the judiciary is then transformed into principals in the destruction of the very process it was entrusted to protect. Indeed, the undermining of judicial independence by political interference has negative repercussions not only on society at large but on the nation as a whole.

Very often the inability to assert independence seems to be inversely proportional to the degree of integrity. Judges must display competence and expertise and they must be above suspicion. We are by now very familiar with the videotape of the “correct, correct, correct” judicial scandal but have we seen any action yet?

And where judges are not seen to be absolutely above board, the establishment of equity and fair play in commercial and economic deliberations will be largely illusory. This would also explain why Malaysia continues to occupy dismal positions in the corruption index, not to mention how much further we have sunk in competitiveness.

Another crucial criterion for the rule of law is that the discretion of law enforcement agencies must not be allowed to pervert the cause of justice.

We know that not only the judiciary but the police and the Attorney General’s office play essential roles in the preservation of the rule of law, failing which they are easily used to pervert the law. Selective prosecution, police highhandedness and arbitrary arrests, and now of course the actions of the MACC, all collectively serve to pervert the cause of justice rather than uphold the rule of law.

And in all these, the ruling Umno government is not only complicit but blatantly instrumental in perpetuating these gross transgressions. The upshot is harassment, oppression, and in most cases, the extermination of the small fry while the large predators continue to roam free. The Pakatan controlled government of Selangor will remain a classic case study of the systematic abuse by Federal law enforcement agencies under the thumb of the ruling federal clique.

The arrogance of power has rendered them completely impermeable to public opinion. The extension of the IGP’s contract just last week flies in the face of the overwhelming chorus of objections from the people. The increasing incidences of custodial deaths and the blatant bias of the MACC in carrying out its duties are but two examples of this breakdown in the rule of law.

The very root of this problem goes to the question of accountability. We have seen what it is like. Without accountability these agencies literally get away with murder. They are certainly getting away with corruption. The instances are too many to enumerate but it would be accurate to say that the amounts involved get bigger by the year. We know about the billions earmarked for the stimulus packages but where has the money gone? How much longer can we allow public financial resources to be used in complete disregard of the rules of accountability?

The proper application of the rule of law would have meant that those who occupy the seats of power must be subject to scrutiny and held accountable for their misdeeds. They must realise that power and authority are but duty and obligation and not right and privilege. Will they ever be brought to justice?

In the final analysis, the idea of justice to man is so central to the rule of law that you can’t have one without the other. Corruption and the abuse of public office, the absence of transparency in financial dealings, the perversion of justice by the law enforcement agencies and the dereliction of judicial duty – these are indeed characteristics of the rule of men, and not the rule of law. The trappings of democracy cannot mask this perversion.

Reform is way overdue but on the eve our our Malaysia Day celebrations, let us renew our commitment to freedom and to justice.

Speech by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at the launch of “Anwar on Trial – In the Face of Injustice” by Pawancheek Marican in Kuala Lumpur on September 14, 2009 at the De Palma Hotel, Ampang.