by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday 20th September, 1994:
DAP protests in the strongest possible terms against’ Mahathir’s earth-breaking ceremony for the Bakun dam project for Ekran, as it makes a complete mockery of the EIA requirement before any work for the RM15 billion Bakun project could begin.
DAP protests in the strongest possible terms against the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed for conducting the earth-breaking ceremony in Belaga, Sarawak yesterday for the Bakun dam project for Ekran Berhad, as it makes a complete mockery of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) requirement before any work for the RM15 billion Bakun project could begin.
The EIA report for the Bakun project, which would be undertaken by University Sarawak Malaysia, would only be completed by March next year and a decision by the Department of Environment as to whether to approve the Bakun project, is not expected until June next year.
However, all these EIA studies appear to be ‘academic’ and mere meaningless exercises, for the Prime Minister’s earth-breaking ceremony for the Bakun project even the EIA report had been completed conveys two messages;
* Firstly, by allowing Ekran to proceed with its RM50 million preparatory work for the Bakun project, the Prime Minister is in fact giving an undertaking that the Federal Government would definitely be giving approval for the Bakun project, regardless of outcome of EIA studies;
* Secondly, that no environmental factors and issues would be allowed to stand in the way of the
Bakun project, despite the earlier warning by the Minister and Deputy Minister for Science, Technology and Environment that no work on the Bakun project would be permitted unless the Department of Environment had given its approval for the EIA report.
I feel sorry for both the Minister and Deputy Minister for Science, Technology and Environment as the Prime Minister’s earth-breaking ceremony, for the Bakun dam project yesterday had completely destroyed their credibility as the guardians of the environment in the country.
How could the Minister and the Deputy Minister for Science,Technology and Environment face the people of Sarawak and Malaysia and convince them that the environmental laws and the EIA requirements must be complied by everyone, regardless of their influence, clout and connections with ‘powerful’ people in the Barisan Nasional Government?
DOE should issue a prohibition order to EKRAN to stop all preparatory work for Bakun dam project until EIA approval has been given and to court if this order is defied by EKRAN.
The Prime Minister’s earth-breaking ceremony of Bakun project even before any EIA report had been done had highlighted the impotence and irrelevance of the Department of Environment in the whole national development planning process.
The Bakun dam project has become a test-case as to whether the Department of Environment is a mere ‘paper tiger’ or whether it has real ‘teeth’ to enforce environmental laws.
The Department of Environment (DOE) should issue a prohibition order to Ekran to stop all preparatory work on the Bakun dam project until the EIA report for the project had been approved.
If Ekran is not prepared to comply with this prohibition order, then the DOE should go to court to stop Ekran from proceeding with its preparatory work for the Bakun dam project for violating the EIA laws.
If the Department of Environment is not allowed to defend the integrity of the environmental laws in the country, then both the Minister and Deputy Minister for Environment should seriously consider whether they can honourably continue to remain as Ministers and Deputy Ministers for Environment.