By Joseph Tawie, Free Malaysia Today
BINTULU: About 1,000 Penans from six villages in the Murum river area are in a dilemma over their future and livelihood because the authorities don’t think it is necessary to inform them of the outcome of a social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) report on the Murum dam. “We demand to see and scrutinize the SEIA report on the Murum dam first before the report is to be approved,” said Surang Alung, chairman of the Pelieran-Murum Penan Affairs committee.
He said that throughout last year, the community had been visited by various parties claiming to do some studies related to the Murum dam project.
“And every time someone came, we were told that the government had carried out the SEIA studies in order to determine the impact of the dam on our community.
“But until now we do not know the actual progress whether the said studies, the SEIA report and other related reports have been completed and ready for public scrutinizing,” said Alung.
He urged the state government, especially the natural resources and environment board (NERB), to let them know without further delay.
“As the dam affects our life and our culture, our opinions and feedback on the report should be seriously taken into account,” he stressed, adding that to date the community did not know where they will be resettled.
The government, he added, should also explain and clarify to them regarding the specific development plans that are related with the resettlement programme as well as their livelihood and future.
Alung said: “In addition to the SEIA report, we also call upon the government to inform us regarding the plan for resettlement area for us.
Problem with resettlement
He also said that they have forwarded their suggestions to the government on the proposed resettlement at the Metalon river in the upper reaches of Pelieran river.
“However, at present, Shin Yang Company is on the verge of clearing the proposed resettlement area for the purpose of large scale oil palm plantation.
“If Shin Yang is allowed to extensively clear and fell the forest in the area, there will be no more forest left for our community to sustain our livelihood.
“Thus, it would be meaningless for us to be resettled in the proposed area if it is to be developed with oil palm plantation,” he said.
“It will be a double tragedy for us,” he added.
The RM3 billion Murum dam, when completed, is expected to displace six Penan villages, namely Long Way, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu and Long Malim and a Kenyah village, Long Uba.