Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud is not amused with activists calling for environmental protection in the state. “Before they open their mouth, they must understand what is happening now. There is no government project which will destroy the environment,” he was quoted as saying.
Come again? Okay, no “government projects” – but what about private sector projects approved by the government? Are they really environmentally sustainable? We all know the answer to that!
“The government also has the responsibility to ensure that members of the future generation inherit the good environment,” he added.
The million dollar question is, is the government living up to that responsibility? Where have all the rainforests gone?
So the Sarawak state government is concerned about economic prosperity. But economic prosperity for whom? Who gets the lion’s share of this “prosperity”? Which companies will benefit from all these logging and dam projects?
This report from The Borneo Post:
We’ll decide our own future, Taib tells activists
KUCHING: Environmentalists may have their say on the environment but it would be the people in the government who decide on how best to charter the course of the state’s future and also to further develop its economy.
Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, in stressing this here yesterday, said the 12 hydro-electricity dams would go on for the sake of economic development despite the constant criticisms, sometimes destructive, coming from certain activists.
“They voice their concerns but the government decides.
“And we have to weigh development and its impact on the environment,” he said, adding that he could not allow a small group to decide on the betterment and the future of the people.
He added such development would enhance the economy which would then benefit the people of the state.
Taib was speaking during an interview in connection with the state’s 45th independence anniversary at his office here.
He said criticisms, particularly from some environmentalists, only focused on their own point of view or concerns but failed to consider other aspects including economic prosperity.
“What will the people get in the future if they listen to these activists who want the projects dropped?
“After they had protested, would the economic-related problems like hunger and poverty be solved?” he asked.
On the other hand, the government was looking at all angles and perspectives including the economy and the social and environmental factors before implementing or even planning such projects, he pointed out.
He added that it was contrary to what the environmentalists thought because they only looked at the aspect of conservation of the environment.
Should he ever discuss the issue with the environmentalists, Taib said, first of all they must understand the criteria of sustainable and balanced development.
Most importantly, they must understand what the Sarawak government intended to do to generate economic activities.
“Before they open their mouth, they must understand what is happening now. There is no government project which will destroy the environment.
“The government also has the responsibility to ensure that members of the future generation inherit the good environment,” he said.
The government’s plan to build the 12 hydro-electricity dams in Sarawak has been criticised by environmentalists. Among other things, they questioned the impact on Mulu National Park, if the Tutoh dam goes on.
They also worry that the dams would lead to the destruction of Borneo’s natural environment and wildlife and also the displacement of the rural people.
Besides Tutoh, the other proposed dams are located at Ulu Air, Metjawah, Belaga, Baleh, Belepeh, Lawas, Limbang, Baram, Murum and Linau rivers.
The plan which seeks to meet future industrialisation needs would also include an extension of the Batang Ai dam.