August 8, 2008

Dams Will Benefit Sarawak, Says Wong

KUCHING: The state government is not perturbed over objections to its plan to build hydroelectric dams.

State Public Health and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said the government was aware of the importance of environmental conservation and would strike a balance between the state's future and its environment.

"Obviously, the opposition has its version of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which differs from ours. Bear in mind we know exactly what we are doing. And what we are doing is for the benefit of Sarawak. There is no reason for us to destroy the state's environment," he said after receiving a courtesy call from Kuching South mayor James Chan at Bangunan Maitulmakmur yesterday.

The state's plan to build 12 hydroelectric dams over the next 20 years has received criticism from non-governmental organisations and opposition parties.

On Wednesday, state Parti Keadilan Rakyat chief Dominique Ng had asked the government to be transparent and to release EIA reports related to the dams.

Asked to comment on Ng's statement, Wong said the EIA report had yet to be completed. He also questioned the need for the report to be made public as it contained classified information.

Last week, the state cabinet had agreed in principle on the building of the RM3 billion 940mW Murum Dam in Upper Baram division. The project is set to be awarded to China Three Gorges Project Corporation, which built the famous Three Gorges Dam.

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