(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): Is the revival of the RM13.5 billion Bakun hydroelectric project in its original scale the last folly of Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad or does it presage a final spree of monument mania in his final years like the Northern Regional International Airport, the Kuala Lumpur Linear City and the Malaysia-Indonesia Bridge projects?
“Folly” is not too strong a word to describe the Cabinet decision yesterday to revive the Bakun dam project in its original scale minus the plan to lay the world’s longest 670km-long undersea link to the peninsula - although it would still create a number of “firsts”, such as the world’s highest dam with its physical design in the form of a Concrete Face Rockfill Dam of 205 metres high and being the largest of its type in the world, as well as flooding an area the size of Singapore of about 69,500 hectares as its reservoir area in addition to requiring l.5 million hectares as its catchment area.
Without the world’s longest 670km High Voltage Direct Current submarine cable link between Sarawak and the Peninsula Malaysia, the revival of the Bakun dam in its original scale is an even greater folly than the original proposal - as the bulk of 2,400 megawatts to be generated by Bakun dam was predicated on its sale to Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore as both Sarawak and Sabah would only require a minor fraction of its generating capacity.
It is clear that the announcement of the Cabinet decision on the revival of the Bakun dam project is to influence the impending Sarawak state general elections, hoping to win votes by promising a mega-development project for the state - another example of money politics on the grand scale!
The Cabinet should submit its decision to revive the Bakun dam
project in its original scale to Parliament for debate and prior
approval before the government takes any further action on the project,
and the government should explain:
The Bakun dam project was one of the mega-projects whose total value worth RM65.6 billion which the then Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, shelved in late 1997 during the Asian financial crisis.
With the revival of the Bakun dam project in its original scale, Malaysians
want to know whether Mahathir would also be reviving in toto the other
mega-projects like the Northern Regional International Airport, the
Kuala Lumpur Linear City
Project, the Cameron Highlands-Fraser Hill-Genting Highlands Highway Project and the Straits of Malacca, Malaysia - Indonesia Bridge project.