Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New video on installation of 2 mini hydros at Kg Nyegol goes live!

You can also watch it here at You Tube.13min, original record-live music from Bidayuh musicians on site plus a visitor who blow music from a leaf! Camera by Joachim Leong & Samuel Wong. Comments welcome!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bengoh film-viewing and download here!

Bengoh dam has become added burden on the back of villagers displaced!

The Bengoh film is finally available for on-line viewing and download:
1. You Tube
2. Engagemedia

Reviews here:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Issues of Bengoh dam spreaded further -powered by film!

Just when the power that be think that the small number of villagers affected by Bengoh dam will fade away without anyone noticing them the new Bengoh film `Ulu Bengoh Darom Piin' stirs up a storm in its Kuching screening-even to the extent of catching attention of the Utusan Borneo-a Malay mainstream media that usually stay clear of such `controversial' issues. As more people get to know about the plight of the villagers there will be more scrutiny on the way the dam project was handled-and more pressures on the government to get it right in coming up with appropriate compensation package and options for the villagers. So readers can contribute to the solution by passing on the bitter story of these Bengoh folks. Make sure that their problems will not be forgotten in the government's handling of the Rm300+mil project!

Isu penduduk terjejas Empangan Bengoh terus tarik perhatian

Posted on November 9, 2011, Wednesday

MENUNGGU BEROPERASI: Pemandangan udara Empangan Bengoh yang kini sudah siap sepenuhnya namun belum dapat beroperasi kerana penduduk terjejas masih belum dipindahkan disebabkan pembinaan Skim Penempatan Semula yang belum siap.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Bengoh film turn heads in Kuching!

A very positive review of the film by Hornbill Unleashed-`boost for participatory democracy in Sarawak':

Films and Freedom

— Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:03 AM
Pak Bui
The Freedom Film Fest received an enthusiasic welcome when it came to Kuching and Miri during the last weekend of October.
This is the fourth year this excellent film festival has come to Sarawak, showing challenging films about human rights, politics and democracy, sexuality, religion, indigenous people’s issues and society – far more intriguing films than the standard commercial drivel in our cineplexes.
The five films screened were free, in more sense than one. The festival was open to all Sarawakians, and all were welcome, with only a collection box going around.
The crowd in Kuching were mostly young, bubbly and courteous. There were around 300 people packed into the narrow conference room at the Harbour View Hotel.
Many of the participants – for they  weighed into debates and discussions, and were not simply a passive audience – were college students, from all ethnic groups.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Why were Bengoh folks not asked if they want to move out of dam area?

Bengoh dam is making news for all the wrong reasons-the Auditor General's report is an example. But the dam is also open to other criticism viz the dam is designed to supply 2100mil litres of raw water/day to Kuching, which only consumes 600mil litres of raw water/day. The dam is over sized-such that the politicians are talking openly about releasing a big part of the water to generate electricity! Were the Bengoh folks ever asked if they agree to sacrifice for all these anomalies?

Joseph Tawie
Why is the Sarawak government forcing Bengoh Dam natives to shift to a resettlement scheme which the Auditor General’s Report 2010 has described as ‘unsuitable’?
The Sarawak government has been urged to immediately carry out a census poll on the 394 families from four villages affected by the construction of the multi-million ringgit Bengoh Dam.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vague compensation package that won the Bengoh voters?

Look at these promises to the Bengoh villagers affected by the Bengoh dam:
* FREE housing to replace the old houses-BUT the Federal government which is expected to foot the bill has not approved it; what if the approval never come?
* MORE land than 3 acres will be given to displaced villagers; Currently the re-settlement area in Kg Semadang is rather congested-with existing residents using most of the lands; where can the government find new land for the Bengoh  villagers?
* Consultation with the people eg choosing their re-settlement area; However the government re-settlement area is chosen by the government alone; Most importantly the people are not consulted on whether they want to move-only the compensation is being discussed;
Can such vague promises win over the voters of Bengoh? The only circumstance where they can `impress' the voters would be when there is no challenge to these vague promises from other candidates.

Bengoh natives still blur about compensation package

Joseph Tawie
 | November 1, 2011
The Sarawak government must ensure that the natives affected by the Bengoh Dam don't end up 'poorer and marginalised'.
KUCHING: The Sarawak government must pay the families and villagers who are affected by the construction of the Bengoh Dam adequate compensation that takes into account their immediate and long term needs.
Making this call, a former diplomat John Tenewi Nuek said the villagers had made a “tremendous and invaluable sacrifice” in leaving their ancestral sites.
“The affected villagers are making tremendous and invaluable sacrifices for the construction of the dam and it is only fair and just that they be given a comprehensive, adequate and fair package of compensation that takes into account their short-term as well as their long-term interests.

Bengoh film in the news: rural folks are key to change in Malaysia!

Activists reveal Bengoh villagers puzzling voting trend
By Yam Phui Yee   
To whose benefit… the Bengoh Dam will benefit greater Kuching and Samarahan but displace about 1,500 Bidayuhs from their ancestral land. Photos courtesy of Joachim Leong
In rural Bengoh, Sarawak, 1,500 villagers will be displaced by the Bengoh Dam. They have to give up their ancestral land, relocate and settle for compensation they are not sure is fair and whether it will be forthcoming. Despite faithfully voting in the Barisan Nasional government for years, they still lack basic amenities. But, they still vote for the BN. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Politics of mini hydro in Lacau-hidden story revealed!

Barnie Lasimbang(L) and Niloh(R) in BB Cafe in KK
We published a story of a mini hydro in Kg Abok Mawang, Lachau previously. It was reportedly a story of community self-help and gotong royong. There was more to this story that met the eyes, according to Banie Lasimbang, an laternative energy consultant who has installed more than a couple of dozens of mini hydros before in Sabah and Sarawak in the last decade. The story was shocking: the original beneficiary of the mini hydro project was another kampong (Kg Apin?) -but due to the `generous' contribution by local `YBs' the power was supplied to Kg Abok Mawang-which was as far as the YB's generosity could reach! The people involved ignored the consultant's suggestion to modify the design slightly so that there would be enough power to supply to both villagers!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fundraising for Bengoh villagers' mini hydro go public!

Joachim Leong recording for a video `Make your vote count'

The Bengoh film finally is exposed to the public in Sarawak itself via a report in Borneo Post today! (See attachment below). It is the only film about Sarawak in the Freedom Film Fest-and made by Kuching born director Joachim Leong, Niloh Ason of Simunjan and also Lee Zhi Eng of Bintulu! A quible by the director on the report is that he did not quite put choice of candidate as `the major' factor' behind the voters choosing a dam-supporting candidate in Bengoh. He clarified that he only said that the factor could be a reason for that happening, in a context where there is little information on how democracy can work for voters benefits.

Update one: public fundraising for Bengoh villagers' mini hydro is now open! If you are interested to donate, please contact organiser through meonet2010@gmail.com

Update two: as of now the gross amount of fund raised is closed to Rm4k!

So: Malaysians -do come forward to show you care to take Bengoh villagers out of the darkness that engulfed them thus far!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Truth on Bengoh emerge from Auditor General's report!

Re-settlement site still not ready for Bengoh folks.
Earlier there was a report that the government selected re-settlement site was not suitable-but now fuller details from the much missed report reveal more problems with the dam: cost over-run!

Acquisition, resettlement send Bengoh cost spiralling

Sarawak's yet-to-be completed Bengoh Dam could cost an additional RM60.57 million, according to the 2010 Auditor General's Report.

PETALING JAYA: Severe delays in the construction of Sarawak’s Bengoh Dam could send costs skyrocketing by an additional RM60.57 million, warned the 2010 Auditor-General’s Report.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scandal:Auditor General report exposed Bengoh re-settlement site as `unsuitable'!

Kg Semadang re-settlement area has just been started-but its unsuitability could have been known 2 years back!
According to the Auditor General's report just released at Parliament the government's re-settlement for villagers displaced by the Bengoh dam has been found to be `unsuitable', as quoted by journalist Sulok Tawie. The disclosure is scadalous: the AG report is usually dated 2 years back; so why is the developer still proceeding with the building of the new re-settlement scheme at Kampong Semadang while the `unsuitability' of the site has already been known 2 years back? Are they forging ahead following the same pattern that they had been building the dam ie keep the villagers in the dark?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Raising fund for Bengoh's mini hydros-1 DVD at a time! !

A `dream' for Bengoh folks?But you can help them make it come true! Will you-fellow Malaysians-to liberate fellow citizens from darkness lietrally and figuratively?

This next week will see us going to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah to screen the Bengoh film, while promoting the voter education and voter observation programs to Sabah. No where is too far for us to promote the DVDs and voters rights!

We will have a screening of the Bengoh film according to the following details:
Date: Oct 26th(Wednesday)
Time: 7.00pm
Venue: Celyn Hotel, next to City Mall
Programs: *Talk on `Why election observation for coming 13th General Elections?'
                *screening of `Ulu Bengoh Darom Piin'
Speaker: Ong BK, MEO-Net National Coordinator
Entrance: FREE-bring all your friends!

Sales and collection from our DVDs cross RM3000.00 mark today! Gross total stands at Rm3017.00 as of now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ever wonder why there are not many mini hydros in Sarawak's interior?

A 10kW mini hydro installed in Penampang, Sabah 

If you have a chance to travel in Sarawak's interior you will find this familiar landscape: long houses with no electricity supply located next to fast streams or even waterfalls. Why is not mini hyro more popular in such locations? These are the 4 major reasons I had come across why mini hydro, despite its merit and low costs, don't quite make it big in rural Sarawak:

Sunday, October 16, 2011

5th screening and discussion on anti-dam campaign: more to come!

Engineer, housewife, geologist, cab driver, construction worker, lecturer etc gathered for the Bengoh film screening last night at Puchong Book Club. (Thanks Cynthia for photo)

Last night there was a small group screening session of the Bengoh film cum discussion on the anti-dam campaign, held at Puchong's Book Club at 4.00pm. 16 persons turned up and a sum of RM154.00 was collected from the group through sales of DVD (12 copies) and donation(Rm10.00). This is the kind of activity that we will keep doing to spread the message where the mainstream media refused to print/air/broadcast. Big sections of the public will miss out if we hope to catch them by a few big scale screenings.No one should be deprived of such information if they want to access it. More groups are also approached to hold small gatherings where we can send presenter to speak to the group about the grave issues involved. Since the screening and discussions are informal, small scale, usually held indoor, there will not be problems which arise from big open gatherings. Also: only in small enough groups like this that effective discussion of issues and members participation can be assured.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bengoh DVDs to be censored before it can be sent overseas!

DVD sleeve design for the Bengoh film

It was a pleasant surprise to get 2 orders for Bengoh DVDs from overseas. So I enquired about the postage at the Pos Laju and Post Office to find out the poatage so that I can inform the orderers the amount they have to add on to the DVD cost. To my surprise the Pos Laju asked me to obtain a stamp fro the KDN (Kementerian Dalam Negeri/Interior Ministry) before they will process the posting.He tried to reassure me that it does not take long and there is no extra charges to get the stamp. I tried the post office for regular mail. The answer was the same-need a stamp from the KDN. Well, look like there is no way to escape that. I remember that there were some hassles like this when I tried to send an entry to a Japanese film competition before, via a private courier company. Just could not remember how they finally settled it-but the DVD was sent over in time. Now I just have to try my luck personally this time.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bengoh film sparked off forward looking reflection

This is the response in Face Book from Willie Mongin who was the only candidate who agreed to be interviewed for the Bengoh film-hope the film will spark off more positive forward looking reflection among all parties concerned:

    • Willie Mongin
      Thanks for the highlight. In fact this is known, as I am the one who told them that I did not manage to cover the four villages but we do have our network that moving around in that area. This is why we managed to garnered some votes. Being transparent, we do admit our weaknesses and will formulate a better move next round.

      On the financial matter, it is also known and it is not only in Bengoh, it is state – wide as our PKR State Chief has mentioned it just right after the state elections was concluded. For me, I am ready to take any bricks and stones thrown at me and use it to build a solid foundation and wall of struggles instead. In politics, comes what may ! :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lachau residents installed mini-hydro before-why not Bengoh villagers?

Bojong villagers formed committee to oversee mini hydro installation

Our effort to install mini hydro for ulu Bengoh had attracted interests:  a reader of the news about the Bengoh villagers trying to instal mini hydro informed us of a successful attempt to bring electricity to long house folks-in Lachau, near Sri Aman in recent years. If the folks there can do it -why not folks in Bengoh villages? Yet from another friend the location has now been supplied with electricity from SESCO -so the mini hydro is either lying idle or could be sold off? Read on:

Now, they have electricity...self supplied

Saturday, 28 July 2007
Tony Thien (Malaysiakini) For the residents of the 14-door Iban longhouse in Kampung Abok Mawang, located 150km on the Kuching-Sri Aman Road, the one invaluable lesson they have learnt well is about the importance of self-reliance and initiative to make things better for themselves.

At the corner of every general elections, they heard promises that electricity from the state utility company would come to the longhouse, situated along the highway, soon. But those promises have remained largely unfulfilled.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Site investigation for Bengoh's mini-hydro return promising reports!

Waterfall near Kg Rejoi's new settlement

Waterfall near Kg Bojong's new settlement

Looking at the waterfalls near to the 2 villages where the mini-hydro were to be installed: aren't they promising, with plenty of `head' (height of waterfall) and reasonable volume of water in Kg Rejoi's case and plentifull supply in Kg Bojong's case! It appear that producing over 15kW of electricity from both sites together is feasible-especially considering that there are likely to be much more height to the waterfall below the ponds shown here. A crude way to measure the flow rate of the waterfall near Kg Rejoi shows that the big water container filled in few seconds! From these basic information it is possible to work out the energy output, and from there to work out an appropriate turbine design and the dynamo/generator capacity. We are also near to estimating the costs of implementing the project, with the distances of the waterfalls from the new villages already measured. We thank the villagers who took quick action to report back to us, from the last meeting less than 2 weeks ago!

Gross DVD sales & donation for Bengoh's mini-hydro project approach RM2k! More welcome!

Media launch of Bengoh film in Penang
Kg Rejoi's 5-man committee to take charge of the mini-hydro.

Halo folks,
Thanks to the enthusiastic response from the Bengoh film audiences over the last 2 weeks we had collected from sales and donation in KL and Penang a total of RM1911.00 as of today, which will go towards installing mini-hydro for Bengoh villagers, many of whom are still living in the dark literally and figuratively! While we have yet to calculate the costs involved to instal mini-hydro for families involved we are looking at RM35-40k to instal about 15kw of hydro electricity for the villages. So: we have made the 1st step and achieved 5% of the donations required by selling the DVD of the new Bengoh film. Please do your part to bring light to the villagers! The faster we achieve the target the earlier we can instal the mini-hydro generators. Interested folks can also hike up to the site to witness the installation of the mini-hydro.

Anyone interested to donate can write to our email: meonet2010@gmail.com or call me at 013-5900339(Ong BK-producer).
Gross DVD sales & donations   
DVDs sold=126 XRm12.00=RM1512.00     ;
Donations                            =RM399.00                                                                             

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Merdeka Review: Donate towards mini-hydro for soon-to-be evicted Bengoh villagers!


作者/本刊曾薛霏 Oct 09, 2011 03:52:49 pm

【本刊曾薛霏撰述】由于砂州政府面对来自峇南上游原住民的大力发对,因而决定暂时搁置峇南水坝;不过,砂政府将加速建造巴勒水坝(Baleh Dam)。由于巴列河附近涉及的原住民仅约三百人,反对建造水坝人士担心这项计划在面对极少阻力的情况下火速完成。
狄莫迪(Timoti Anak Chundi)昨天在吉隆坡表示,他相信巴勒水坝很快就会进行,因为该地受影响的原住民人数很少,仅200至300人,政府可以轻易地赔偿他们。

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Film review: `More objective assessment of rural votes needed'-Malaysiakini

More reviews are welcome from the growing viewers of the film! Send it to us at: meonet2010@gmail.com 

Film review: 'An eye opener' -Malaysiakini

Changing the world, one film at a time

— Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:03 AM
Keruah Usit
The camerawork was admittedly shaky, but a short documentary called ‘Ulu Bengoh Darom Piin‘ (or ‘Upper Bengoh, underwater’ in one of the Bidayuh languages) that premiered at the Freedom Film Fest on Oct 2, was quite an eye-opener.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Save the last Eagle dance for.....?

The Semban's ladies who wear copper rings on their limbs from young perform a unique dance called the Eagle Dance for visitors. But since they will be evicted to make way for the Bengoh dam soon they may dance their last dance-at least in their ancestral home, very soon as well. The other villagers don't have such tradition. It means that when these ladies stop the whole tradition may come to a halt. The eviction does not help. Actually the village itself is 200 meters above the dam's reservoir and at least 2 km away-giving rise to suspicion that this could be just another of the hundreds of land grabs around the state! Worse their houses are said to be converted into tourist homestay props! Come to watch the Bengoh film to find out how ridiculous the whole thing could be!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What help do the Bengoh villagers need?

Candle light dinner-but not for every night?
New Rejoi village-but unlit houses

While there are increasingly more people coming to know the plight of the Bengoh villagers due to the construction of the Bengoh dam there is a need to find out how the public/outsiders can most meaningfully lend them a hand. During the filming process the villagers showed great interests to instal mini-hydro generators for their new houses constructed at higher altitudes to avoid the dam. The crews were not able to document the potential sites for the mini-hydro generators yet-but the enthusiastic villagers told me recently that they are willing to send photos of the potential sites/waterfalls to me at the 1st week of October. So the much spoken about mission to deliver mini-hydro to the interior folks has heated up again. In fact the hope is not just for these 3 affected villagers which had constructed new homes at higher altitudes-but to also extend to all other suitable villages in upper Bengoh.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hardest thing to do: seeing things from the other point of view?

What do you think-the question goes both ways!

The Bengoh film started from a question which ask: why the oppressed voters of Bengoh don't use their ballot to voice their unhappiness-as all voters are so entitled? It is not apparent that the question is actually loaded-the question's implied background is urban and mostly West Malaysian oriented! The making of the film actually become an experience to try to see things from another point of view: if you step into their shoes would you vote differently?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Can the government dam up people's dissatisfaction-12 more huge dams to go!

12 more huge dams coming up!

After the completion of Bengoh dam there will be 12 more other giant dams to be built by the state government across the state, not to count the biggest Bakun dam which is a Federal project. There is a need to monitor the dam development as we found out in the Bengoh dam case: the people are seldom consulted; elected representatives and government departments are mobilised to bulldoze the projects through with threats and inducements; dams are built over the size that are really needed to give extra benefit to the builders-who are all closely linked to the Chief Minister of Sarawak; environmental destruction not factored in the dam design-with the EIA and SIA not required by laws to be made public etc. So if the public cannot make the government accountable on the dam buildings in Bengoh and Bakun,the same negative trends will extend to the rest of the 12 dams in Sarawak-multiplying the agonies and dissatisfaction caused by the over-sized Bengoh dam and also Bakun dam! What can the desperate people do??? Can the government dam up the people's dissatisfaction forever after they dam up the water?

Monday, September 19, 2011

More rural representatives become heavier burden on the rural folks?(updated)

More representatives for rural areas-more burden?

The assumption of giving more rural representatives to the rural areas and voters is that the bigger number of representatives will allow these representatives to speak out for the rural folks who face under-development in all aspect of their lives. However the reality seems to be the opposite in Sarawak! Far from speaking out for the rural folks who voted them into the legislatures the representatives become more the speaker of the government to the people, and worse, filter out many allocations to the rural areas such that it gives an original meaning to the `trickle down' theory in economics! Let's look at the evidence -which is coming out in a new film on rural Bengoh!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bengoh dam's hardsell tactics working?

How do you persuade the villagers to give up their ancestral lands so that infra structures meant for other people can be built where these folks have lived for generations? The Bengoh dam make a good case study of how hard sell `works'! The villagers were united not to go at the beginning-but slowly their resistance was worn down by a combination of  segmentalised breakthrough, cash inducement and more other promises which are not even confirmed at the time of the promises were made! Let's look at the 3 step strategies here:

Hard sell involved to remove the original inhabitants of upper-Bengoh?

STEP 1: From the villagers' information the government as the instigator of the dam project first targeted the 10 civil servants families in Kampong Taba Sait-the village closest to the main road. Once the civil servants are overcome (possibly with inducement of promotions,or threat of sacking?) they were probably turned into the government's tools to push other members of the villagers to fall in line. Given that civil servants are held in high esteem by the local community the roping in of these civil servants were strategic for the dam instigator. And this is definitely not the first time the government utilise the civil servants to push even unpopular government projects onto the people! Other than this group of village families the chiefs of the villagers were probably given loads of carrot and stick treatment to get these government salaried headmen to toe the line. (Already numerous headmen elsewhere were sacked after the state elections where they were accused of supporting the opposition!)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Justice ala Bato Bagi's case: how does it compare to normal property transaction?

The Taman Tun Abdul Razak resettlement housing is supposed to be ready last year-but???

If you buy a piece of property you can pay 10% deposit and then you are given a certain period to finalise complete payment and paperwork to acquire the property in your name. If you fail to come out with the payment the deposit is forfeited and you will not be able to touch the property-it remains with the original owner.So how does the acquisition of the Bengoh dam sites by the government differ from the normal property transaction that we normally practice?

The government provided some compensation money to the villagers affected in 2008-actually part of them, and promised to finalise all compensation package and payment by middle of last year, where the villagers are moved to completed new housing in Kg Semadang, in a `taman' called Taman Tun Adbul Razak. Now the deal actually did not go this way.  After the deposit payment to some of the villagers the government failed to provide for alternative housing and failed to settle the balance of payment. It has been 1 year or more now. So: is the deal still valid?