Q: What is SCORE?

Between 2006 and 2010 the federal government of Malaysia announced a series of five proposed economic corridors in an attempt to stimulate global and domestic investment in rural areas across the country. SCORE, or the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, is one of these five corridors. Between six and twelve dams are scheduled to be completed in Sarawak by 2020 as part of SCORE. SCORE also includes plans to construct coal power plants and expand oil palm plantations.


Q: What is a hydroelectric dam?

Hydroelectric dams produce power as water passes through the dam. Once a dam is built an artificial lake, or reservoir, is created behind the dam. The Bakun Dam reservoir has flooded around 700 square kilometers of farmland and rainforest, equivalent to the size of Singapore. Globally, an estimated 50,000 large dams now block most big river systems, and an estimated 40 to 80 million people have been displaced by dams.  


Q: Why build the Sarawak dams?

The government and the dam builder, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) claim that building the dams will create the energy needed to develop industry in Sarawak and jumpstart economic growth. Studies from the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) at UC Berkeley find otherwise. Their studies show that existing infrastructure is already sufficient to sustain a very aggressive energy growth rate. Learn how Sarawak can meet industrial growth without expanding the SCORE mega-dams, and how diversified energy systems can more efficiently provide rural energy, here.


Q: Who is building the dams?

Sarawak Energy Berhad (“SEB”) is a 100% state-owned electricity supplier in Sarawak under the State Financial Secretary. SEB is responsible for the planning of all hydropower projects and coal plants in Sarawak. The Chinese companies Sinohydro and the China Three Gorges Corporation are in charge of construction and works.


Q: Who is fighting the dams?

A local alliance of affected communities including the Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC), the Sarawak-wide network SAVE Rivers, and the national coalition of Indigenous People Jaringan Orang Asal Se-Malaysia (JOAS) are working together to raise awareness of the destruction and dispossession that will be caused by the development of mega-dams in Malayisa. In October 2013, Baram community members established two road blockades to prevent construction, surveying work, and logging at the proposed location of the Baram Dam. As a result, preparatory construction works have remained stalled. The blockades are still going strong.


Q: Who would be impacted by the dams?

Athough the dams are being built on native land, indigenous communities have not been consulted and are being forcefully relocated from their communities. Many promises are made to the displaced communities, yet the results are always increased poverty and illness. Forced resettlement amounts to nothing less than indigenous ethnocide. A fact finding mission led by SAVE Rivers found significant human rights violations concerning resettlement for the Baram Dam. Based on detailed interviews in 14 Kenyah, Kayan and Penan villages along the Baram, the report shows how indigenous communities have been denied information, participation in studies and decision-making, coerced into accepting the dam through threats and intimidation, and thus denied their rights to their lands and territories, self-determination, and to Free, Prior and Informed Consent.


Q: Doesn’t Sarawak need SCORE in order to become a developed state?

No. A recently study by the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory from UC Berkeley finds that existing infrastructure is adequate to sustain a very aggressive energy demand growth rate. Learn how Sarawak can meet industrial growth without expanding the SCORE mega-dams, and how diversified energy systems can more efficiently provide rural energy, here.


Q: What is the impact of the dams on ecosystems?

As the rainforest is destroyed and the  reservoirs fill up with water, the SCORE dams would have a devastating impact on the biodiversity and watershed health of the region.The 3 dams (Murum, Bakun, and Baram) would result in the loss of 110 individual mammals and 34 million individual birds. Read more about impacts on biodiversity here.


Q: What about mega-dams and climate change?

Reservoirs and hydropower are often thought of as climate-friendly because they don’t burn fossil fuels to produce electricity, however scientific studies indicate that the warming impact of tropical reservoirs can be much higher than even the dirtiest fossil-fuel power plants. Read more on the GHG Emissions page.


Q: If the dams are so socially, economically, and environmentally destructive, why build them?

Private companies involved in construction and energy transmission stand to make gigantic profits from building the dams. Any of these companies are controlled by relatives and friends of the governor and former Chief Minister of the state, Taib Mahmud. Taib has been in power since the 1970s. Learn more on the corruption page.


Q: Who created this website?

The Borneo Project is a US-based non-profit organization that has supported indigenous-led land rights campaigns for over 25 years. Learn more at borneoproject.org.