Bakun undersea cables on again; new dam in Pahang?


The on-off project to lay undersea cables to transmit electricity from the jinxed RM7 billion Bakun Dam to the peninsula is now on again.

This time we are told the undersea cables will cost RM9 billion and that the cables will transmit electricity to the peninsula as well as Sabah. Brunei is reportedly also interested.

MRCB has been mentioned in a Star news analysis as a leading contender for the land-based transmission network.  The same Star report also notes:

Maybank Investment Bank also observed that among the states, Sarawak had the largest allocation under the second fiscal stimulus. Political analysts noted that Sabah and Sarawak had become politically important states.

The rollout of projects in these two states will provide opportunities for home-grown contractors such as Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd, Naim Holdings Bhd and Hock Seng Lee Bhd. They have an advantage in being more familiar with the local landscape and people.

Cahya Mata Sarawak is of course Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s family-owned company.

If Bakun is meant to transmit even more electricity to the peninsula, why are we building another hydro-electric dam on the peninsula, considering that the peninsula already has an ample reserve margin.

In 2008, the Department of the Environment approved a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment for the “Proposed Development Of A 372 MW Hydroelectric Project At Ulu Jelai, Cameron Highlands, Pahang”. You can download the Executive Summary of the detailed EIA here.

They want to use this dam to supply peak demand and shut if off when the demand falls off.

Leaving aside the broader impact, this dam has a relatively small footprint for what it’s supposed to do. And they’ve provided a clever justification – the  limited supply of gas, with the other alternative being coal-fired plants.

But, of course, in this country, there’s simply a better long term option — solar, which if we commit to it, can have significant multipliers in R & D, not to mention other renewable sources. Isn’t there a need for us to examine more closely our consumption of electricity and to look at how we can increase efficiency?

The other problem is that the site of the Pahang dam (along with its surrounding areas) has 13 Orang Asli villages located along Sg Bertam, Sg Telom and Sg Lemoi.

Although the executive summary of the EIA says there’s “acceptance” among the Orang Asli, there’s really no impact assessment. They tell us from their survey that there’s “acceptance”, but they don’t assess or tell us the potential impact of re-locating them and the risks involved.

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Fair art

I don’t know if you’ve noticed that the East & West side of Malaysia is separated by sea. The portion of energy is catered to a peninsular and also a east coast grid. Two major land areas which are not connected via land. The reason for energy transfer through cable via the sea for the bakun dam is to reduce energy plants vastly for the peninsular. However the project cabling issues are still inmature and we can’t wait for it to happen or not, and other projects are shelved. You need to understand that sabah and sarawak are still mostly… Read more »


Msia maintain a power reserve of 45% for peak period. Even cold climate countries resrve only 10% for winter heating. What is this, bolehland is preparing for nuclear winter or what.

Fair art

The pahang dam hydro project to me is acceptable due to the Environmental Impact Assessment that has been layed out recently. The orang asli settlement will be relocated and proper facilities and living conditions will be improved significantly throughout the entire construction. I might not be an expert in this matter of hydro power, but reading the EIA report + the alternative energies options its definitely cleaner than coal, and the natural resources are being used to generate electricity for the people of pahang. The other thing is, we see that there’s definitely solar potential in m’sia, but of course,… Read more »

orang api


although we are all against corruption, nepotism, cronyism and all corrupt behavior, development plan is done by very objective and professional personnel and procedures.

solar, while it is an abundant source.. the cost is just not competitive.. it can only provide maximum power for 4-5 hours a day. while i do agree on the more RD being done on solar, especially locally. However, there is a physical/property limitation on solar panels. I do not foresee solar being “base load” 24hrs available supply in the near future…


These are the Last Days of Raksasa Rule when the greedy warlords who desperately cling to power & privilege will find themselves facing the unbridled wrath of the billions they have parasited upon for countless generations. So blinded are they by their own hype they simply cannot see the metaphorical guillotine that awaits them just a few years down the line…



I was at Kuching for abt 2 weeks and had a chance to visit the rural area. Theres 12 more dams are coming up. I documented the Bengoh Dam project and its impact. I really can’t describe the damage, environment, displacement of people, and the list goes on. On the hindsight, the Sarawak government is not bad at all, they are building a huge resort on top of the hills…. 🙁 I’m sad, really sad for this country and it’s people.


I agree.. the solar is the way to go.

and am really doubtful about the acceptance claim of the orang asli folks….

Phua Kai Lit

Dear Anil and other Progressive Friends

Sorry to go off-topic.

Take a look at this article by David Moberg on the current
crisis of “free market fundamentalism” and neoliberal

telur dua

A classic example of digging more holes to cover existing holes. … Who is going to buy all that electricity?

Malaysia must be such a blessed country where there is non-stop supply of money.

Francis Khaw

Hey!!! The whole idea of building the dams, undersea cables, etc…with the EIA, generating more electricity…is all bulls…!!!

The whole idea is to generate more $$$$ to the cronies(?)