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 IRN’s Bakun Campaign

In February 2001, the Malaysian government announced the revival of the 2,400–MW Bakun Dam on the Balui River. Located in the remote interior of Sarawak province on the island of Borneo, this controversial project has been dogged by financial troubles since its inception and has inflicted serious damage on indigenous communities.

There is no proven need for the project’s power. Originally, the project was intended to supply power to peninsular Malaysia via submarine cables. The project was shelved in 1997 during the Asian economic crisis and has been resurrected twice since then. The government now claims that the revised project will supply power to Sarawak and Sabah provinces. Both provinces currently have power surpluses. 

In 1999, 10,000 indigenous Kenyah and Kayan people were forcibly relocated from their ancestral homes to make way for the dam. People are now struggling to survive on resettlement sites, where unemployment and hunger are prevalent. The desperate situation threatens to worsen in the next couple years, particularly as compensation payments dry up, the fertility of land drops, and people are forced to pay back housing loans.

IRN is currently working with Malaysian NGOs Sahabat Alam Malaysia and SUARAM and the Berkeley–based Borneo Project to stop foreign involvement in the Bakun Dam and to address the growing crisis faced by people displaced by the project.

  latest additions  
Longhouse folks affected by Bakun project seek help
The Star (Malaysia), September 24, 2003.
Bakun Dam: Economic boondoggle, human rights violations.
Petitions to the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Human Rights
Commission submitted in July 2001 by communities displaced by the Bakun Dam and communities living downstream
Sarawak People’s Declaration Against Large Dams
Issued during the Sarawak  Workshop on the World Commission on Dams on June 27–28, 2001.
Bakun Dam Lurches Forward
The Malaysian government is forging ahead with construction of the 2,400–MW Bakun Dam. World Rivers Review, June 2001.