by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, November 6, 1995:
Call on Anwar Ibrahim to give clear indication when winding up the budget next Tuesday as to whether the RM15 billion Bakun dam project would be delayed as part of the government plan to reschedule mega-projects to cool the economy.
The Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should give a clear indication when winding up the budget debate in parliament next Tuesday as to whether the RM15 billion Bakun hydroelectric dam project would be delayed as part of the government plan to reschedule mega-project to cool the economy.
The Singapore Business Times had carried a commentary over the weekend stating that “The Bakun dam saga continues to befuddle investors as the signals are conflicting”.
It said: “On the one hand, Ekran Bhd. which has the mandate to implement the massive project, is selling lucrative portions of the massive timber concessions on the dam site.
“At the same time, there are indications that the Government may delay the project over fears that the economy is overheating and it may be sensible not to bunch the construction of big ticket infrastructure projects.
Last week, Ekran Bhd. said it hopes to sell the rights to all the timber licence to extract timber from 56,000 ha in the Bakun area involving 27 million cu metres of timber.
In August, Ekran sold the rights to three million cu metres of timber to Ultimate Strategies Sdn. Bhd. for RM405 million.
Now, Ekran hopes to sell another eight million cubic metres of logs for about RM400 million.
Ekran would probably raise some RM2 billion simply by selling off its concession rights to the 27 million cu metres of timber in the Bakun area, without lifting its finger. There is probably no faster way of making money than getting concession fights to extract 27 million cu metres of timber and selling them off for cash!
Anwar should clarify the position of Bakun dam project especially as the Minister for Energy, Telecommunications and Posts, Datuk Leo Moggie had said in his reply to one of my parliamentary questions that up to now, the financing arrangements for the RM15 billion Bakun dam project has not been finalized.
This is most shocking, as the Bakun dam project is already in a very advanced stage of implementation yet the financing arrangements had not been finalized.
There are valid grounds for concern especially as Ekran Bhd.’s previous bond issue to raise funding for the project had received poor rating by the Rating Agency Malaysia (RAM) early this year.
However, despite its failure to date to finalise its financing arrangements, Ekran has already announced that it is starting work on the Bakun dam project this month, and has hired Korean contractor Dong-A Constitution to construct three diversion tunnels to divert the Balui River for the building of the dam.
The three diversion tunnels are respectively 1.5 km, 1.6 km and 1.67 km in length and Ekran claims that they would be the largest diversion tunnels ever built in the world.
This will be a violation of the EIA Report, Part 1 on Reservoir Preparation which has made it clear that no work on the Bakun dam should start until Ekran had submitted its Biomass Removal Plan to the authorities for approval.
Leo Moggie had told parliament that Ekran would submit its Biomass Removal plan to the governments concerned at the end of October and he promised to consider whether to make public the Biomass Removal Plan.
Up to now there is no report that Ekran had submitted its Biomass Removal Plan or that it is being studies by the authorities concerned.
In these circumstances, how could Ekran be allowed to start work on the Bakun dam by starting construction on the three diversion tunnels to divert Balui River?