Ritual “to appease gods” in Sarawak


Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud says that the interests of natives would be protected in all future dam projects. Can they believe that after the bitter experience of Bakun and Batang Ai?

According to the Borneo Post, Taib said he was prepared to offer what the displaced natives would need – similar to what was done for the affected communities when building the Bakun and Murum dams. “We have plans to resettle our people, like the Penans, to adapt to the new way of life. Maybe the facilities given are not for them per se but will be for their generations to come.”

Taib can’t even protect the interests of the displaced natives now and he is talking about protecting their interests in the future? I thought those displaced by the Bakun Dam were not exactly thrilled with conditions in the Sungai Asap resettlement scheme.

Taib now says the Sarawak government is much more prepared in handling resettlement following the Bakun experience. The Bakun resettlement was plagued with problems. Didn’t the Sarawak government learn from the unhappy experience of the 3,000 displaced natives at the Batang Ai Dam resettlement scheme in the mid-1980s?

Has anyone bothered to ask the Penan what they really want? Today, the once mighty Rajang River, the pride of Sarawak, has been reduced to a pitiable state, as this entry in Hornbill Unleashed illustrates vividly. The livelihoods of many along the river banks have been threatened.

Meanwhile, no one can say how viable the Bakun Dam is going to be (given all the problems including the degraded catchment areas reported earlier) or if it is going to end up as the ultimate white elephant. The Bakun Dam appears increasingly jinxed by the day. (Remember, the dam will affect the natives’ ancestral burial grounds.)

If Sarawak’s leaders are the superstitious type, as they seem to be, they would probably be quaking in their boots. They now want to facilitate the holding of a ritual  to “appease the gods” (and the Ibans), as the Borneo Post reports. I am not surprised that some people may be feeling outraged at the terrible environmental consequences of the logging and the dam and, after seeing how their leaders have betrayed them, are now turning to higher authorities (divine help) as a last resort.

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Ong Eu Soon

There are instance the Three Gorges Dam become hamstrung for the moment by a lack of water. A drought in China’s midsection on Nov 2009 made dam’s 400-mile-long reservoir unable to fill up to capacity as planned. If Three Gorges Dam with it’s massive catchment areas still faced the problem of lack of water, can’t image what will happen to the Bakun dam.

Ong Eu Soon

According to the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID), Sarawak, the mean annual rainfall for the Bakun area is 4,070 mm. The maximum rainfall centres on November-December and March-April. The minimum rainfall occurs during the months of June, July and August. Immediately after the impoundment, the water level in the Rajang and its tributaries dropped by more than 6 metres, causing river transportion in Belaga to come to a standstill during the weekend. The impoundment is expected to last seven months. Blaming the problem of low water level as due to prolong drought during rainy season is the only incredible… Read more »


Taib mesti belah. ask taib to go swim in sungai rajang.

Ong Eu Soon

The navigation problem due to low water level at Sungai Rajang and other rivers at the downstream of Bakun will be a permanent issue when the impoundment of Bakun take too long to complete. According to Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd (SHSB), the impoundment, or filling up of the reservoir, will take about seven months to reach the minimum operation elevation of 195m for running the turbines. Filling the reservoir to its maximum operational level of 228m would take about 13 months, depending on the rainfall in the catchment area. Judging at the data available on wikipedia about Bakun dam, I… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

If my interpretation of the data is correct, not only Bakun will put 700 km² of land under water – equivalent to the size of Singapore. It will also cause adverse environmental and sociological impacts to the downstream communities. The following is what described in wikipedia regarding the adverse problem that may be resulted at the downstream of Bakun dam. Dammed rivers reduce flood rates, and this has negative consequences on the floodplains downstream that depend on seasonal waters for survival. The comparatively invariable ecosystem created by a reservoir-river supports a far-reduced range of wildlife. Dams hold back sediments that… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

One good news! There will not be any smelting factories in Sarawak, as the Bakun is not expect to generate electricity to soon. I don’t think the factories can wait. It will be too optimistic to even suggest that it will take a decade to fill half of Bakun dam in order for it to generate electricity.
There is one bad news too. You can expect another bailout by the government if BN is still in power.

Ong Eu Soon

The other important aspect that need to highlight is that the catchment area of three gorges dam is 1,000,000 km2 compare to 14,750 km2 of Bakun. Which mean the inflow rate will be very slow. That might mean Poor Sungai Rajang will suffer for a long long time before the water level resume to normal.


It has to fill to a depth of about 100m first before it can do anything at all. It’s a vast dam on a little river – are there any projections at all on how long it’s going to be before they can generate power? My previous calculations worked out at many, many years to fill up to the brim, but operationally full will be before that – I wonder how much before? Poor old chiefs! I guess they feel obliged to attempt anything that makes it look to their people like they still have a purpose and they’re not… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

It took three gorges dam two years to fill up the reservoir. Just image how long Sungai Rajang to suffer, before Bakun finally can generate the electricity. The volume of water frrom the upstream of Bakun is not as big as the three gorges dam. The maximum flood level is 232m which is higher than the 175m of three gorges dam. Making it the tallest concrete-faced rockfill dam in the world. The capaciy is 43,8 km3 bigger than the 39.3 km3 capacity of three gorges dam. Discharge capacity of spillway of Bakun is 530,000 cu ft/s compare to 1,400,000 cu… Read more »


Nevermind, let the Pek Moh (try to) fill it up stinking sky high!…


Anil, Anil. You edit it so much to become incomprehensible lah!
Unless the reader is blur!!


Trust UMNO/BN, they will lead you to more hardship! Malaysians, Ganyang UMNO/BN come PRU 13! Give Malaysians a chance, give our future generations a chance. Only fools of the highest degree will say such dams will generate endless incomes for Sarawakians. What about the Bakun dams? How much have the Fed sell to the State at colossal losses, notwithstanding the environmental damages it had caused and the endless hardship it gave the natives. Do not trust UMNO/BN anymore! Enough is enough! Like in Batu Sapi, dpm said they are building a RM5million mosque, so that the Muslims can pray in… Read more »

Ong Eu Soon

Unbelievable they still want more dams, after this big Bakun dam. :'{

tan, tanjong bungah

Hi everyone,

Promises and more promises! With the State Elections looming, expect even more promises for … ! DO promise not to plunder the riches of the country further!


Apparently all these problems, logjam and drastic drop in water level are the acts of god. To appease him the ruling regime is going to sponsor a massive ritual to appease him. They have shifted the blame to the divine scapegoat. Incredible.


Gerakan K

Anil your statement:
if it is going to end up as the ultimate white elephant

Hello, this is HYDRO power plant and not Penang PICC as suggested by LGE.

This great dam will generate tons of money every year regardless of any economic situation and that money will benefit Sarawak/Sarawakians in endless ways.


Economically feasible and profitable?
When Bakun is ready to generate more electricity, the whole wide world will be using alternative sources of cheap and environment friendly energy like solar, wind, biomass, waves, tidal and thermal.
And the whole wide world will be laughing at us for not using cheap alternative sources of energy readily available in the tropics but still relying on numb-skull damming of vulnerable rainforest rivers until there is no more river to dam!