Dec. 3 - In Sarawak, Malaysia's largest state, a billion-dollar plan to build 12 dams threatens indigenous tribes and tropical rainforest. Sophia Soo reports.
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Malaysia is building another dam in Sarawak, causing opponents to call it an environmental disaster in the making.
About 1,500 people, including indigenous tribes, will also be displaced by the $1.3 billion U.S. dollars Murum dam.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FOUNDER OF RADIO FREE SARAWAK, PETER JOHN JABAN SAYING:
"You see when they built the dam there will be no more forest, so where are they (the indigenous people) going to look for their food, animals, clean water, (the) jungle produces?"
The dam is part of the $105 billion dollar Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy development project.
Environmental groups said satellite analysis shows that between 2005 and 2010, Sarawak lost 33 percent of its peat forests and 10 percent of its total forest cover.
Despite the allegations, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mamud has turned one of Malaysia's poorest states to an industrial powerhouse.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) MALAYSIAN FORMER PRIME MINISTER, MAHATHIR MOHAMAD SAYING:
"But he has been active in selling the power of the Bakum dam, for example. He is bringing in a lot of industries there (Sarawak state)."
Villagers were protesting and attempting to block access to their ancestral lands.
The project is slated to build 12 dams that would eventually block nearly all of the state's major rivers by 2020.
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