Sarawak Energy dismayed at smear campaign by NGO activists

The Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) has expressed dismay over activists lobbying the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to deny SEB a loan.

Contrary to the activists’ claims, it said it has consulted affected communities regarding its Trans-Borneo Power Grid project and paid compensation accordingly, with agreement from the locals, reports MalaysiaKini.

In the event of dispute, it said, the natives still have recourse through the civil court system as well as the native court.

“The acquisition of land and easements for Sarawak Energy’s transmission projects is undertaken in consultation with affected communities, with deep respect for the customs or ‘adat’ of Sarawak’s indigenous groups and in compliance with the laws of Sarawak.

“Over many decades, Sarawak Energy’s Land and Wayleave team has accumulated deep local knowledge and expertise in these matters and the company makes a particular effort to be a model corporate citizen in this regard,” it said in a statement yesterday.

SEB said this in response to international NGO Bruno Manser Fonds’ (BMF) announcement on Tuesday that several NGOs are meeting ADB officials in Manila, Philippines.

The groups are urging the bank to decline a US$45 million (RM163.4 million) loan meant for completing the project on grounds that SEB did not adequately consult or compensate the affected communities before commencing the project.

It intends to submit a report of their fact-finding mission on the affected native communities to the bank to back its claims.

However, SEB rubbished the group’s report, saying that its findings are not independently verified, and accused the NGOs of trying to stop Sarawak’s development plans without offering meaningful alternatives.

It added that in line with ADB’s standards, SEB has submitted a Resettlement and Ethnic Minority Development Plan (REMDP) to the bank, which is in the process of being validated by a third party.

“The outcome of that external monitoring will also be made public,” it said.

On the issue of compensation, SEB said it has paid crops compensation to 547 out of 549 landowners since July 2012, with only two cases in dispute.

However, compensation for land damages and transmission tower base would only be paid once construction is finished.


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