I was shocked when I saw aerial images of logging access roads criss-crossing the Bakun catchment area and photographs of forests being cleared for conversion to plantations. Mind you, the aerial images are a few years old, so things could only have got worse. How could logging and conversion to plantations be allowed in and near the Bakun catchment area especially when billions of ringgit have already been pumped into the construction of the dam – not to mention the impact of deforestation on climate change.
The degradation of the catchment area for the Bakun Dam in Sarawak will only worsen sedimentation in rivers flowing into the dam, cutting into its useful life span. That, in turn, brings into question the viability of a multibillion-dollar submarine cable to bring Bakun power to the peninsula – for which Malaysia is reportedly set to borrow RM9 billion from Japan. Do the investors and lenders know what they are getting into?
These concerns are highlighted in a piece I wrote for Asia Times Online:
Recent reports of environmental degradation have cast a shadow over the viability of Malaysia’s US$2 billion Bakun Dam project and a related multibillion-dollar submarine cable system, which, if completed as proposed, would be the longest such electrical connection in the world. Full article: New doubts over Malaysia’s Bakun Dam