Penan Resistance Against The Machinery of "Development"

Malaysia, and the government's hunger for monuments of development and civilisation. At the colossal cost of land, trees, rivers and sea, the small but influential country has proven more to its neighbours about pushing modernisation plans.

The Murum Dam is the first series of the 12 mega dam projects proposed by the Sarawak (Borneo) state government.

It will have a power generating capacity of 944 MW when completed by the end of 2013. Works on the project, which is located 70km upriver from Bakun hydro-electric power (HEP), started in 2008.

According to local "experts" the energy prospects will benefit the industrial complexes, cities and businesses. However development comes with a heavy price.

The Obstacle.

The Penan community, which is indigenous to Borneo, roams the land even before the existence of colonial-influenced borders and the formation of Malaysia.

Their ways of life is determined by their respect for the ancient rainforests, rivers, lakes, and everything naturally produced by Nature. The Penan people seek their heritage, their rightful identity, their birthright.

Government officials claimed local and foreign NGOs had instigated the Penans to rebel against the mega dam project. Its not uncommon in Malaysia, for the Institution to demonize NGOs, yet the Penan community are not subjects of NGOs or corporations, nor are they slaves to the government.

For weeks from the start in September 2012, the Penan community had erected barricades in protests against construction. Their voices have fallen on deaf ears; they are pushed into desperation.

Their foes crave to ravage the land for the modernisation of their businesses, a rebranded social investment called Greed.

Where is self-determination in this equation: None. Money talks, while indigenous rights are thrown into the cesspool of human right redundancy.

This is not the first time an indigenous community of Malaysia has shown resistance against the selfish views of the few. There will never be an end to legitimate acts of resistance, against the encroachment of corporate greed and state tyranny.


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