Sarawak Government Team Takes Strong Stand To United Nations In Geneva

Geneva, 24 October 2013:  A team from Sarawak, led by Deputy State Secretary YBhg Datu Ose Murang, was today in Geneva to share the State’s strong progress on human rights with the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Human Rights in Malaysia.

The UPR process provides the opportunity for all member States of the United Nations to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.  This session represents the second review of Malaysia, the first having been undertaken in 2009.

Sarawak’s address to the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review was delivered by State Legal Council YBhg Datuk JC Fong who said “Sarawak welcomes the opportunity to share the progress that it has made in relation to human rights in hydropower development.”

“Sarawak has taken, and continues to take, all the necessary steps to ensure the proper respect for human rights of indigenous and other project-affected peoples in hydropower development for their overall well-being.”

“The development of the State’s hydropower and other natural resources supports basic human rights and represents a well-considered strategy designed to maximize the wellbeing of the people and accelerate the rate of economic progress of the State of Sarawak.  The strategy brings the affected native communities, living in remote interior regions of the State and traditionally dependent on subsistence farming or semi-nomadic lifestyle, into the mainstream of Malaysian society, while ensuring recognition and protection of their indigenous rights.  

Datuk Fong went on to say “Through this process, affected indigenous communities have secured new opportunities and better educational and health amenities for their present and future generations, whilst preserving their cultural identities and native traditions. To this end, the State provides the directly-affected peoples a level of compensation, the scope and quantum of which exceeds that provided in any similar hydropower project in Southeast Asia and which should ensure the multi-generational welfare of the recipients.”

He concluded that “By reflecting on insights derived from exposure to international best practice, and implementing lessons learned from earlier hydropower developments, Sarawak has made steady, and even strong, progress in the application of best practices, including as regards the quality of its constructive engagement with the native communities directly-affected by the implementation of hydropower projects.  

Nonetheless, the State acknowledges that it and Sarawak Energy still have much to learn.  In its journey of continuous improvement, Sarawak will continue to be guided by both the lessons learned from previous experience in Sarawak and the standards and procedures developed by countries and institutions engaged in similar endeavours.”

Sarawak's submission to the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in Malaysia