Chief Minister Taib Committed to Sustainable Development in Goal to Achieve 'Developed' Status by 2020

By Asia Newswire, PRNE
Sunday, February 13, 2011

KUCHING, Sarawak, Malaysia, February 15, 2011 - Sarawak is ahead of other Malaysian states in conducting
Social and Environmental Impact Assessments (SEIA) before any development
projects begin. Whilst pursuing growth, the Government of Sarawak is
promoting sustainable development to ensure that the environment and the
state's natural resources are not adversely affected.

Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud said: "I regard environmental
protection and sustainable forestry as an integral part of our State's growth
and our goal to achieve 'developed' country status by 2020. It is of the
utmost importance that we balance development and environmental conservation.
This is a key priority for the Government of Sarawak."

Most recently, the Government conducted a Social and
Environmental Impact Assessment on the Murum dam project. This 940MW dam is
the third hydro-power dam to be built in Sarawak and the first turbine is
planned for operation in August 2012. Hydro-power is the cleanest, safest and
cheapest form of energy in the long run and due to today's technologies,
hydropower has a lower environmental impact than traditional fuels such as

The SEIA Study for the Murum dam project complies with
international standards, especially those of the Equator Principles and the
United Nation's Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The study
examines the social and environmental impact of the dam and the resettlement
of the affected communities, including cultural heritage and ethnography. The
key to effective resettlement is free, prior and informed consultation with
regard to resettlement sites and livelihood options to ensure that the
resettlement will result in an improvement in the lives of the people while
retaining their cultural heritage. The study will be completed in early 2011
and a summary of the study will be made available to the general public for

Sarawak is experiencing major construction and infrastructure
projects as a result of the Government's goals to modernise. It aims to
increase GDP by 500% and provide over one million new jobs by 2030, thereby
improving the standard of living for the people of Sarawak. To do this, it is
investing heavily in major industry, agriculture and energy projects.

The Government embarked on the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable
Energy (SCORE) initiative in 2008, to develop industry across five key areas,
Tanjung Manis, Samalaju, Mukah, Baram and Tunoh. As part of the initiative
two hydro power dams at Bakun and Murum, two coal power stations at Mukah and
Balingian, an industrial park at Samalaju, a Halal food processing hub at
Tanjung Manis, and a Science Park at Mukah are planned. Connecting roads will
also be built which will stretch in to rural areas such as Baram and Tunoh.

The SCORE initiative affects a large area (320 km) and
although significant the development is gradual and will take a total of 22
years to complete. The Government of Sarawak is being very careful to ensure
that this growth is sustainable and that it creates a stronger economy, more
jobs, better education and health facilities whilst tightly monitoring the
environmental impact to ensure it is kept to a minimum.

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