Bad foreign press won't deter Sarawak HEP projects: Taib

KUCHING (Sept 22, 2013): The Sarawak government's initiative to develop the hydroelectric power (HEP) dams in Murum, Baram and Baleh as part of the state's industrialisation programme will continue to get bad publicity in foreign media, said Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

He said, nevertheless, the development had changed the people's outlook as they knew that industrialisation was a corporate exercise as well as a good reflection that they recognised a good government that delivered.

"This, of course, does not relieve me of such accusations. The Murum resettlement will attract a lot of do-gooders who will say the Penans are victimised by a half-hearted government.

"And people will tend to believe such a picture because of poverty in developing countries," he said at the Zaman Angkatan Mansang's (Azam) 30th anniversary dinner themed "Connecting Communities, Shaping Sarawak's Future" here last night.

Abdul Taib said many did not know that the government had spent RM2 million per family to resettle the Penans affected by the Murum HEP project which entailed the construction of roads, houses, schools and churches, and opening up of land for cultivation.

He said Sarawak had also been accused of destroying its environment although international fact-finding missions proved otherwise - its sustainable policy was endowed with a long-term plan to protect the environment and meet the world's demand for timber.

"Yet we are still being harassed no matter what we have done or continue to do... We have emerged from obscurity to a little fame thanks to our adverse critics," he added.

Abdul Taib commended Azam for doing a good job in tackling such propaganda from outside by engaging with the local communities and authorities through smart partnerships and public forums. – Bernama