Environmentalists oppose secret power plan in Malaysia

The Malaysian government should formulate a new, "comprehensive energy policy", civil society groups said after the discovery of secret plans to build a network of 12 power plants across the rainforests of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo.

The confidential document, titled "Chinese Power Plants in Malaysia – Present and Future Development", was leaked on the internet last week. It details power projects planned for construction in Sarawak between now and 2020, including two coal fired power plants, 12 hydropower dams and several combined cycle power projects.

Groups say the dams could submerge several villages and displace at least 1,000 people. One of the proposed dams may submerge part of a national park.

"It illustrates an energy planning strategy that is supply driven and inconsistent with the principles of sustainable development," said Gurmit Singh, chair of the Centre for the Environment, Technology and Development, Malaysia (CETDEM). He said the dams would produce more energy than residents can use, and that their construction could create irreversible environmental damage and hurt the survival of the indigenous communities, who depend on Sarawak’s rivers and forests to survive.

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