Sarawak Energy’s Statement on ADB’s Funding of the Trans Borneo Power Grid

Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, 16 March 2015:  

Sarawak Energy is disappointed to note the latest chapter of the long running international smear campaign waged against the company and the State Government by anti-development activists.

In compliance with the standard requirements for the proposed loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Sarawak Energy submitted a Resettlement and Ethnic Minority Development Plan (REMDP) in September 2014.

The REMDP sets out the process that has been followed in relation to the acquisition of land and easements for the relevant transmission line and can be accessed from the ADB’s website at:

Project Background:  Sarawak-West Kalimantan 275 kV Transmission Line

A data sheet outlining the key details of the Trans Borneo Power Grid: Sarawak to West Kalimantan Transmission Link (Malaysia) can be accessed at:

The interconnection of Mambong in Sarawak to Bengkayang in Kalimantan, Indonesia is an integral part of the ‘ASEAN Master Plan for Connectivity’, sometimes known as the ASEAN Grid. The project involves the construction of a new 275kV double-circuit transmission line from the existing 275/33kV Mambong substation to the Sarawak-Kalimantan international border, a stretch of 46.8km.  

The Trans Borneo Power Grid is a project of regional importance in the on-going quest to achieve economic prosperity, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration.

The ADB played an important role in facilitating the early stage of negotiations between Sarawak Energy and PT PLN (Persero). The negotiation of a loan from ADB to Sarawak Energy for the Malaysia section of the line has been underway for some time.

While Sarawak Energy does not need the ADB loan to fund the project (which is on track to be completed this year), we are keen to explore the potential for the ADB to support Sarawak Energy’s exciting plans for further interconnections in the region.

Consultations with Affected Communities:

Resettlement: In the implementation of the project, no communities were resettled and no ethnic minorities affected in the broad sense (other than landowners belonging to communities so defined), and neither has there been building of any significant structures within the Corridor of Impact (COI).

Route selection: The route was carefully selected to ensure minimal impact through:

  1. Consultations with project affected communities
  2. Exploring alternative design and sites by avoiding residential areas as well as public recreational areas, public amenities and facilities and sensitive areas that affect the livelihood, customary uses and ecological system.
  3. Re-routing of the line.  The final line route is subjected to the ground sentiments brought up by the affected land owners and also due to technical requirements.

Community Engagements:  Prior to the commencement of this project, through the SEIA process, and during project implementation phase, engagements with the land owners were on-going and were implemented in two ways:

1. through group briefings

  • with community leaders and relevant agencies
  • with the land owners, and followed by

2. One-to-one engagement.


The acquisition of land and easements for Sarawak Energy’s transmission projects is undertaken in consultation with affected communities, with deep respect for the customs or adat of Sarawak’s indigenous groups.   

In this process, Sarawak Energy is committed to comply with ADB’s Safeguard Policy whilst maintaining consistency with the Sarawak Law.  

Over many decades, Sarawak Energy’s Land and Wayleave team has accumulated deep local knowledge and expertise in these matters and the company makes a particular effort to be a model corporate citizen in this regard.

.Compensation is paid according to rates determined by the Sarawak Government, after agreement is reached with the affected landowners. Where there is dispute, Sarawak Law provides for legal recourse through the Native Court process as well as the normal judicial channels.

This was necessary due to the complexity of land issues pertaining to claims of both Native Customary Right (NCR) Land and Titled Land.

Throughout the engagement process, Sarawak Energy worked with the Land and Survey Department to secure the owners’ consent and to ensure that compensation are paid accordingly.

Updated information on the status of compensation and land acquisition as at February 2015:

(i)    Rates for Crops Compensation

The rate paid for crops compensation for this project was based on the government’s published rate with additional ex-gratia payment determined by Sarawak Energy.  Hence, the crops compensation rate for crops paid by Sarawak Energy is higher than the published rate.

(ii)    Landowners Due for Crops Compensation

The only monetary compensation due and that has been paid so far is to landowners whose crops were affected in the implementation of the project. This is separate from the land acquisition process, and relates only to damage to crops in building access roads and the such within the easement.   

The finalised or actual number of affected people within the easement is 549.  Out of this, 547 or 99.6% have been compensated since July 2012, leaving only two cases under dispute.  This supersedes the earlier estimated number of 590 people mentioned in the REMDP.

(iii)    Payment for Land Acquisition for Tower Bases

Payment for land acquisition for tower bases will be made as soon as Sarawak’s Land and Survey Department has completed the valuation process for the plots affected.  Once this is concluded, Sarawak Energy will transfer the compensation amount to the Land and Survey Department who will then make payments to the affected land owners. In Sarawak, this is the process under which all compensation for land acquisition is paid out and is the same for other development projects.  

Grievances: As the land was a mixture of titled and customary rights, different issues were raised regarding compensation with grievances addressed in a case by case basis.  Sarawak Energy follows its legal obligations and provides a fair opportunity to redress or remedy a situation.

External Validation:  As part of the ADB’s standard process for these matters, Sarawak Energy’s implementation of the process outlined in the REMDP is presently being validated by an external monitor.

The outcome of that external monitoring will also be made public.

Anti Development NGOs:  Sarawak Energy urges anyone concerned about land matters to contact the company directly and to be wary of international anti-development bodies who seek to exploit those concerns as a marketing tool for their irrelevant agendas.

This coalition of anti-development NGOs have focused their energies on any means possible to stop Sarawak’s plans to develop itself, raise its peoples’ standard of living and alleviate poverty, without offering any meaningful alternatives.

This is especially apparent in their report to ADB which is based on a ‘fact-finding mission’ conducted without the formal assurance of independent verification.