Friday, August 26, 2011

Security post for covering the truth?

There is a notorious security post set up by the JKR at the entrance to the Bengoh dam and villages. JKR is only involved in building an access road to the dam-why are they then given the power to set up a security post that cut visitors off the dam and also the villages? The villagers themselves are the first to feel puzzled as to why the security post is there-though they themselves are not stopped from going through. The security post require outsiders to apply for a permit from the JKR's HQ in Kuching. But why you need a permit to go there?

Bengoh dam's EIA-has it been followed?
This writer is reminded of the same situation in Orang Asli villages in West Malaysia.There are laws stopping visit to these villages by outsiders. It was a leftover from the time when the Orang Aslis were caught in between the war between the Malayan army and the armed Communists. But after the peace-accord between the 2 sides in 1987, the law and the security arrangement in the Orang Asli villages still stand. Why? Apparently this time it is to keep the Orang Aslis from being influenced by non-ruling party people so that the Orang Aslis will forever be faithful to the ruling BN party!
Bengoh dam's SIA -why keep it secret?

A hilarious situation happened when my Sarawakian researcher friend went to interview a Orang Asli village in Perak. He was required to apply for a permit even though he himself is a Bidayuh native!

Now when the Bengoh dam was about to finish and the compensation issues is bothering the the affected Bidayuhs here, a security post is set up-not to secure the dam but to keep outsiders from meeting the villagers! Are the government folks afraid that the bullying of these folks will be spotted by the outsiders-who have been attracted by Bengoh's natural beauties? The numerous travel blogs on-line about Bengoh's wilderness attest to this. And not coincidentally almost all of them,  express in varying degree of passion, the sentiment that the natures and cultures here should be preserved!

Can the security post hope to stop the public's natural sympathy for these marginalised communities and natural beauty, and to stop their aversion towards the dam builders and their shaby treatment of the Bidayuhs communities?  Is the government security post pretending to serve any public interests when their interests to keep the secrets away from the prying eyes of the public is now lying naked for all to see?

And doing research into the Bengoh villages is not easy. There is a dearth of information. Google Earth has no map/satellite picture on this spot with no posh hotels doing advertising for them. There is no published maps on the locations for sales in the bookshops or travel agencies. The most detailed study into the location were 2 documents: 1. The EIA of the Bengoh Dam project (300+ pages) -you can download here. 2. The Social Impact Assessment Study (SIA) of the Bengoh dam project-but this is not available publicly anywhere. We managed to pick up a copy dropped from a passing garbage truck in Kuching! We  didn't see any Official Secrets Act stamp on it. Suppose it is safe to open it!

The most valuable source of intro to Bengoh dam and the people around it was probably from Andrew Garton's 3 short documentaries films `Sarawak Gone'-see previous posts here for individual link to the 3 wonderful films.

Our films will become an update to these labour of love!
Niloh, a truth digger for the film!

Kampong Rejoi has little to rejoice!

That much is the information that we managed to get on Bengoh ahead of the visits to the Bengoh villagers. Hopefully the audience will pick up the valuable updated information from the film itself. The film will be premiered at the Freedom Film Fest on Oct 2nd at Wisma Bentley in PJ before going on a road show to Penang, JB, Kuching and other places. Go to the link pf FFF for screening details.
Film maker Joachim and Weng Yow still working hard....

Can you tell my kampong's story to the world?

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