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Malaysia: Borneo mega-dams proposal raises fears for tribes, wildlife

Source:  Copyright 2010, Independent (UK)
Date:  January 2, 2010
Original URL: Status ONLINE


A massive tract of Borneo jungle, an area the size of Singapore, will soon disappear under the waters of the Bakun dam, a multi-billion-dollar project nearing completion after years of controversy.

The dam, which forced thousands of indigenous people off their ancestral lands, has struggled through setbacks and delays since its approval in 1993, as well as fierce criticism over its environmental impact.

But even before the turbines of the 2.2 billion dollar hydro-electric facility begin to turn, activists have sounded the alarm over plans for 12 more mega-dams on Malaysia's half of Borneo which it shares with Indonesia.

Balan Balang, an elderly chief of the Penan tribe, sighs as he talks of the Murum dam, the first of the dozen dams envisioned for Sarawak state, which will drown the hunting grounds and burial sites of his people.

"This government is very bad. In the old days people would fight us using machetes or spears. But now ...

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