“We Are Not Against Hydroelectric Power,” Say Indigenous Community Leaders at IHA World Congress 2013

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IHA-2013
IHA-2013

(L-R) Pemanca Umek Jeno, Belaga, Temenggung Datuk Hasan Sui, President of Petipun Penan Sarawak, Pemanca Tony Kuleh, Community leader in Belaga, Labang Paneh, Chairman of Murum Penan Development Committee, Penghulu Pao Tului, Temeggong Pahang Deng, Paramount Chief of the Orang Ulu in Baram, Ding Juh, Member of Long Nahaah community, YB Anyi Ngau, MP for Baram, Pemanca Joseph Ngau Lian, Community leader of Kenyah, Baram, Penghulu Ajang Wan, Community leader of Long Liam and Penghulu Paul Kalang, Community leader of Long San, Baram.

At the recently concluded IHA World Congress 2013 on Advancing Sustainable Hydropower held in Kuching, Sarawak from 21-24 May 2013, indigenous community leaders made a joint statement regarding hydroelectric power projects in Sarawak.

The bi-annual IHA World Congress is the leading international event for all hydropower stakeholders that focuses on practical experiences, policy and solutions to tackle environment and energy challenges. The Congress includes the participation of governments, NGOs, international organisations and financial institutions. It provides a platform to connect and share knowledge, and to nurture progressive exchanges on hydropower development.

Sarawak Energy is one of the main sponsors of the congress.

The joint statement on hydropower came from leaders of communities in Batang Ai, Belaga, Bakun, Murum and Baram, against a backdrop of differing reports and reactions. The joint statement was an important step for all parties to come to an understanding of the united stand the communities have pertaining hydropower; as well as feedback and suggestions on what the communities need; and how to build the best HEP possible.

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The leaders were very clear to declare on record that, “We are not against hydroelectric power.” Many statements that were made were not reflective of the majority of the community who are looking for progress and development for the betterment of the communities, and the future generations.

They lamented that they are grateful to the government and Sarawak Energy for listening to the concerns and suggestions of the communities.

Here’s the joint statement in full:

  1. We are not against hydroelectric power.

  2. Many statement were made and they are not reflective of the majority of the community who are also looking for progress, development and access to healthcare, education, clean water, electricity and a better future for our children.

  3. We acknowledge there could have been better implementation of the Batang Ai and Bakun projects for our people and there could still be more that could be done in these areas.

  4. We are grateful that lessons have been learned from these other HEPs and the State Government (including Sarawak Energy) are now doing their best to come and listen to our concerns and suggestions.

  5. We are here today at the IHA Congress because the State Government and Sarawak Energy have made it clear they want to listen to our suggestions on how to make it the best HEP in Malaysia.

  6. In return we want to give our views and suggestions based on our communities experience on what our community needs and how to build the best HEP in the world.

  7. We understand there are people within our communities who have strong concerns on the implementation of the hydropower projects, perhaps due to a lack of or misleading information.

  8. We acknowledge many people are interested in helping us and we appreciate it. But do not use us or the development we desperately need as political weapons for personal agendas.

  9. We will work with all parties to find the best solution and balance, but we strongly reject foreign interference and instigation among our people that will disrupt the on-going discussions and progress made so far.

  10. To this point we appeal to our brothers and sisters to come together to discuss how we can together put our case forward to the State Government constructively. ‘Bersatu Kita Teguh, Bercerai Kita Roboh’.

  11. It is okay to have concerns or different viewpoints however, let’s do it in a constructive manner, not by protesting. We are not here to battle, we are here to create a better future together, for our children.

  12. We want to stress that whatever the outside world is thinking, we are not stupid and neither can we be easily mislead. Asking us to remain as we are is locking us to stay in poverty.

  13. We are not prepared to be exhibits in a living museum for foreigners take pity. We also have our dignity.

  14. I thank the NGOs for trying to highlight some of the concerns but this is our land, our life and our community. Trust us to have the wisdom and integrity to do what is right for our people.

Live recording of the statement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hY7hf3m9pYw&feature=youtu.be

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Visit http://ihacongress.org/ for more updates on IHA World Congress 2013.

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  • Stephen Sile

    SEIA first please.