31 Jan 2013

Bakun dam and corruption in Malaysia

These stories were published in the Borneo Post. In the first, a local politician says that voters should give the ruling party a 2/3rds majority "to keep the nation united and on course" Voting for the opposition would destroy the nation, of course.

In the second, Mr. Wan Junaidi says that opposition leaders "bad-mouthing government... are seeking troubles for themselves and the country."

Remember that the Malaysian government imprisoned Anwar Ibrahim for several years on false charges, so "themselves" is no idle threat.*

Why does this matter?

The comments on "internal affairs" and "Tasmania Hydro" refer to the Bakun Dam in Sarawak, a dam that appears to have broken every record for terrible environmental, social and economic design, i.e., the dam flooded nearly 700km2 of tropical rainforest (the size of Singapore or 90% of New York City), displaced many indigenous peoples, and generates power for which there is no demand. Although I could not find a total cash cost for the dam, I expect it to be around $1 billion. Most of that money appears to have gone to the Malaysian construction mafia -- and probably to corrupt politicians.**

Why do I say corrupt? Who would spend $billions of public money on a project for which there is no demand? We know that these projects are for the benefit of special interests, not for the people of Sarawak or people of Malaysia (e.g., their education system is a mess).

Bottom Line: Malaysia is not going to "develop" while it quashes free speech and builds megafailure dams to nowhere that are all cost and no benefit.

* That's also why I am publishing this from Amsterdam.
** I can say the same about the US, and I have have have have have!

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