It makes no economic sense
In 1980, the Bakun dam was proposed with apower generating capacity of 2,400MW eventhough the projected energy needs for the wholeof Sarawak was only 200MW for 1990.The project was thus coupled with the proposal tobuild the world's longest (650km) undersea cableto transmit electricity to the peninsula. Analuminum smelter at Sarawak's coastal town ofBintulu was also proposed to take up the surplusenergy.In 1986, the project was abandoned because ofthe economic recession although the then PMMahathir announced just before the UNConference on Environment and Development(Earth Summit) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that thiswas “proof of Malaysia's commitment to theenvironment”.So what happened to that commitment,Mahathir?In 1993, with the upturn in the Malaysianeconomy, the government once again announcedthe revival of the Bakun dam project. To cushionthe expected protests, then Energy Minister SSamy Vellu gave Parliament a poetic description ofa “series of cascading dams” and not one largedam as had been originally proposed.Before long, it was announced that the Bakundam would be a massive 205-metre high concreteface rockfill dam - one of the highest dams of itskind in the world - and it would flood an area thesize of Singapore island.The undersea cable was again part of the project.There was also a plan for an aluminum plant, apulp and paper plant, the world's biggest steelplant and a high-tension and high-voltage wireindustry.Have feasibility studies been done to see if therewill be adequate local, regional and internationaldemand for all these products?Six years later, after the economy was battered bythe Asian Financial Crisis, the government againannounced that the project would be resumedalbeit on a smaller scale of 500MW capacity.Before long in 2001, the 2,400MW scale was onceagain proposed although the submarine cable hadbeen shelved. Today we read reports about thegovernment and companies still contemplatingthis hare-brained undersea scheme which is nowestimated to cost a whopping RM21 billion!
More mega-dams to be built
The recent announcement that the Sarawakgovernment intends to build two more mega-dams in Sarawak apart from the ill-fated Bakundam is cause for grave concern.Malaysian taxpayers, Malaysian forests andMalaysian indigenous peoples will again be themain victims of this misconceived plan. We havebeen told that some 1,000 more indigenouspeoples will have to be displaced from their ancestral lands to make way for these two dams.Apart from the human cost, ultimately it will bethe Malaysian consumers who pay for thisexpensive figment of Sarawak Chief Minister
Bakun dam - worse than PKFZ scandal 3/4