Sabah Earthquakes Prove There Is Potential Risk In The Construction Of Dams

13 Jun Sabah Earthquakes Prove There Is Potential Risk In The Construction Of Dams

BN Must Cancel The Baram Hydro-Electric Dam Project Immediately

The recent 5.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Sabah on the 5th of June confirms the fact that East Malaysia is susceptible to earthquake. Therefore, I am calling the state government and Chief Minister of Sarawak Adenan Satem to not neglect the potential threats of earthquakes and continue with the construction of dam at the expense of the lives of the Baram living in Sarawak.


The Department of Mineral and Geoscience in Malaysia has revealed in 2009 that there are numerous fault zones lying beneath Malaysia. In Sarawak state alone, there are as many as 40 fault zones. Research shows that there are two fault zones situated near where the construction of dam is being held, consequently these areas are considered potential earthquake zones. The seismotectonic map published in Bakun HEP Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in 1995 by Geological Survey Sarawak and Sabah also confirmed that the fault lines are located exactly on the dam proposed location.


I would also like to take 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake as an example. A growing number of scientists have pointed out that the Zipingpu Dam is one of the factors that triggered the earthquake.


As Zipingpu Dam begins to impound more water, this causes additional weight and pressure to the crust. The extra weight and pressure might have accelerated the occurrence of earthquake for a hundred years. Furthermore, research also shows the construction of dams will lead to an imbalance of the ecosystem, where it will have damaging effects on water quality and climate.


Although state government of Sarawak should not neglect its focus on development and construction, but there is a balance that needs to be achieved where the state government should also review the impact of his development and construction against the natural ecosystem in Sarawak. And not descend to the kind of government who is too fixated on development for its own personal interest and profit and as a consequence of its actions, severely damage both the environment and ecosystem of the state.


It is unfortunate that the BN Government of Sarawak decided to continue with the construction of Baram Dam. The decision is obviously against the wishes of local community. The construction was allowed to continue without a premise of risk assessment, and upon completion, the social, economic and environmental cost of the dam will be bear by the Baram people.

Therefore, under the possible threat of earthquake and the oppositional voice of Baram people, it is not too late for the state government of Sarawak to review the construction of Baram Hydro-Electric Dam, and respect the wishes of the Baram people to cancel the project immediately.


Lee Chean Chung

KEADILAN Environment Bureau Chief

State Assemblyman of Semambu