Target: Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammad Najib Abdul Razak
Goal: Prevent the construction of Baram River Dam
On the Island of Borneo, in Malaysia’s Sarawak State, a plan to dam the Baram River to generate hydroelectric power is underway. This dam, much like the ones built before it, will devastate the local ecology and force the displacement of 20,000 natives indigenous to the region. Proponents of the dam argue that the power generated will attract heavy industries to the region and provide a revenue source for a relatively poor Sarawak State, ultimately benefiting the native populations who are displaced. However, the history of native displacement for the sake of industrial development stands in sharp contrast with the promises government officials and contractors make.
The Baram Dam is not the first dam project to be proposed which would displace thousands of natives. The Bakun Dam which started construction in the early 1990s saw the displacement and relocation of 10,000 natives. A visit to Sungai Asap, where the natives were resettled, highlights the benefits natives receive from these projects. Given infertile land and substandard housing, the vast majority of the natives are fighting to find food, clean drinking water, and stave off diseases like tuberculosis and malaria. It is precisely this sort of development and displacement which the Baram River natives are fearful of. Moreover, the Baram River Dam poses a serious threat to biodiversity in Sarawak.
Borneo is one of the largest islands in the world and home to one of the oldest rainforests. This rainforest boasts one of the world’s most biologically diverse habitats and is home to a number of endangered species. The Borneo gibbon, Bornean bay cat, thousands of unique varieties of flora and fauna, and one of the world’s largest butterflies, the Rajah Brooke Birdwing, call the Bornean rainforest home. Continued dam construction throughout Sarawak will seriously impact these species’ ecosystems, placing them at greater risk of extinction. Not only is this an environmental travesty, it will seriously impact Borneo’s ecotourism industry.
The impact of the Baram River Dam on the native population and the environment must be taken seriously. The short term benefits of increased revenue generated by hydroelectric power are seriously outweighed by the negative humanitarian and environmental impacts of the dam. Sign the petition below to show your support for terminating the Baram River Dam project.
Dear Prime Minister Mohammad Najib Abdul Razak,
The proposed Baram River Dam project will negatively impact the lives of the region’s native people and severely damage Sarawak’s biodiversity. Proponents argue that the increased revenues from the hydroelectric power generated will aid in development of Sarawak and improve the lives of the native population. However, this was not the case for the native population resettled from the Bakun Dam to Sungai Asap. The natives there are fighting for basic food, water, and medical treatment.
Moreover, the dam construction will seriously damage the local ecosystem. Borneo has one of the world’s most biologically diverse and oldest rainforests. This wealth of natural resources must be used carefully. Damming Baram will only serve to further endanger the native flora and fauna. Please do the right thing and terminate the Baram River Dam project.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: xiangxi via Flickr