By Andre Vltchek for Counter Currents - But after visiting Borneo earlier this year (2017), something changed inside me. The island used to be one of the most beautiful places on earth, covered by impenetrable tropical forests, high mountains, and mighty rivers. Its many kingdoms and cultures were self-sufficient and thoroughly unique. Thousands of animal species were coexisting in harmony, sharing the living space with other creatures like birds, butterflies and rare plants, trees and flowers. It was a magic, gentle and pure world…And it was all not so long ago. Many things are even documented by stunning old photographs…Then, Western colonialism changed, basically ruined everything; as it had ruined everything almost everything, all over the world. Dutch and British invaders, showing no respect and no interest in local people and their habitat, began doing here what they have been doing everywhere for centuries: plundering, stealing, cutting down trees, extracting riches from under the earth, enslaving the locals. Later on, after semi-independence, the West corrupted local elites and introduced savage capitalism onto basicallythe entire island of Borneo.
The International Hydropower Association (IHA) World Congress tasted controversy on the first day when its first plenary session was abruptly interrupted by a local non-government organisation (NGO) protesting against the construction of mega-dams in Sarawak. Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) chairman Peter Kallang waited until the session was just about to close before standing to address the audience of 500 international delegates representing governments, developers, NGOs and other major hydropower industry interests. “We are against the dams. And we are not alone. The majority of people who are affected by the dams do not agree with the dams,” Peter said, claiming to speak on behalf of the communities affected by the dams. The plenary session was meant to give an overview of key issues affecting the hydropower industry as well as set the tone of debates and discussions that will take place throughout the three-day congress.