by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 22nd September 1994:
Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Law Hieng Ding should explain whether his Ministry has modified its earlier stand and has allowed work to begin on the RM15 billion Bakun dam project even before approval of EIA report?
The Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Datuk Law Hieng Ding should explain whether his Ministry has modified its earlier stand and has allowed work to begin on the RM15 billion Bakun dam project, even before approval of Environmental impact assessment (EIA) report.
Both Law and his Deputy Minister, Peter Chin, had made very strong statements early this year that work on the RM 15 billion Bakun hydroelectric project near Belaga, Sarawak should not start before approval of the EIA report.
However, on Monday, EKRAN Berhad had started work on the Bakun dam project after the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, had personally conducted the ground-breaking ceremony for the Bakun project in Belaga.
The preparatory work for the Bakun project would cost RM50 million, and involve the construction of workers’ camp, administrative office and accommodation facilities although approval of the EIA report on Bakun project is not expected until June next year.
In fact, studies on the EIA report, which would be undertaken by University Sarawak Malaysia would only be completed by March next year!
DAP MPs to highlight the Bakun dam issue in next month’s Parliament to determine whether DOE is a mere ‘paper-tiger’ completely irrelevant to the development decision-making process in the country.
DAP will highlight the Bakun dam issue in next month’s Parliament and will demand to know why Ekran is allowed to start work on the Bakun project even before approval of EIA report, and whether this signified that the EIA approval by the Department of Environment is already a ‘foregone conclusion’?
DAP MPs would seek answers to the vital question: Whether by allowing Ekran at proceed with its RM50 million preparatory work for the Bakun project, the Federal Government is in fact giving an undertaking that Ekran would definitely be given approval for the Bakun project, regardless of outcome of EIA studies!
The Minister for Science, Technology and Environment, Datuk Law Hieng Ding should realise that the Bakun dam project has become a test-case as to whether the Department of Enviroment is a mere ‘paper tiger’ or whether it has real ‘teeth’ to enforce environmental laws.
In view of the fact that Ekran had violated the clear-cut policy of the Environment Ministry that no work on the Bakun project should start, until EIA approval had been given, is the Department of Environment (DOE) considering issuing 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 project for violating the EIA laws.
If the Department of Environment is not allowed to uphold the environmental laws in the country, then it is quite irrelevant to the entire development decision-making process in Malaysia.