Home Towering M'sians Save Rivers’ Peter Kallang wins 2019 Seacology Prize

Save Rivers’ Peter Kallang wins 2019 Seacology Prize

File photo: The Save Rivers group has been active. From left: Peter Kallang (Save Rivers chairperson), Abun Sui (Gasak president), Philip Jau (BPAC chairperson), and Khamsul (Forestry Department in Miri) receiving a memorandum

Join us on Telegram and Instagram for the latest.

In the fight against the Baram Dam, we were aware that we were up against a formidable adversary, says Peter Kallang.

I am deeply touched at being selected as the recipient of this distinguished award, the Seacology* Prize 2019.

I am humbled by the very thought of it. This is in recognition of our success for stopping the Baram Dam and the government’s decision to stop all mega dams. In short it was teamwork at its best.

I would say that there were three main factors which brought about this success.

  1. We all know that this success was possible with the contribution of so many who love our Sarawak people, our unique culture, the environment, land, rivers, flora and fauna. Those who struggled with us were from various places in Sarawak, other states in Malaysia and overseas. There were so many individuals involved. To get the support and cooperation of all those villagers and supporters, it was mainly following the guideline of free, prior and informed consent as stated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  2. The success is also attributed to the many NGOs or civil society organisations (CSOs) working together. In fact, Save Rivers was started as a network of eight local CSOs including non-governmental individuals. With the resources available from those organisations, Save Rivers was able to start functioning actively the instant it was formed. This experience shows the important role played by NGOs, CSOs and nongovernmental individuals. We are an important component of a working democracy. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, our fifth Prime Minister, was one of those government leaders who openly claimed that he was willing to listen to NGOs and CSOs. He once said: “NGOs must act as the eyes and ears of the government” and “Civil groups should speak up and point out the weaknesses of the government in a constructive manner.”
  3. In Sarawak, we had one chief minister who was also willing to listen to CSOs, NGOs and the ordinary people. He was the late Adenan Satem. After our request, he invited Save Rivers and friends to have a private meeting with him. At the end of that meeting, he said to us, “I will listen to you just as I have been listening to the proponents of the dam.” So when we decided to fight against the Baram Dam, we were aware that we were up against a formidable adversary, which was the government and some of our own people.
READ MORE:  Election Commission - not state agencies - should draft Covid rules for Sarawak election

However, we continued the struggle despite those obvious odds. So we are so grateful for the surprising success. I am reminded of the verse which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Thank you very much for all the congratulatory messages which I have been receiving from old and new friends. Remember that this is an acknowledgement of our success together.

*Seacology is a nonprofit based in California whose mission is to work with islanders around the world to protect threatened ecosystems and help their local communities.

Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

Our voluntary writers work hard to keep these articles free for all to read. But we do need funds to support our struggle for Justice, Freedom and Solidarity. To maintain our editorial independence, we do not carry any advertisements; nor do we accept funding from dubious sources. If everyone reading this was to make a donation, our fundraising target for the year would be achieved within a week. So please consider making a donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB Bank account number 8004240948.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x