Long Terawan

This village belongs to the Berawan people. The Berawan are a subset of the Kelabit people up in the Bario lands. Berawan can be found from the highlands all the way down Mulu and into the Ulu Baram area. Although the longhouse at long Terawan is large with about 100 families or doors, many have left their family home for Mulu. There they find jobs as boatmen and open up plantations since the setting up of Mulu National Park has provided more opportunities for the people. Tales passed on has stated that the Berawan people who lived there is a combination of Berawan and Tring, another tribe from the Kelabit strain. The Tring apparently seeked asylum at the village after a fierce battle waged had forced them to flee their own village. Therefore, according to linguists, the Long Terawan peoples speak a distinct language which has influence from both Berawan and Tring tribes.

Today, Long Terawan has only a few family members looking after the village. Those who have left for the cities and far away places, only return during festivities such as Christmas, or during the harvest festival if they can. Then will visitors see the village and the longhouse in full force. On normal days, the villagers go about their daily chores. The ladies collect palm leaves to dry and then weave into hats to be sold at the local markets. The men fish and go off to their plantations. A few provide boat services into Mulu National Park. I must warn you however, that if there’s only a party of 2 persons thinking of going by boat into Mulu, it will be an expensive affair. The boat costs RM450 per way per boat and can only take up to 5 persons. The Berawan tribe claims that the entire area from Long Terawan into the Tutoh river and then Melinau river all through into Mulu National Park. The boat ride from Long Terawan into Mulu National Park proper takes roughly 1 ½ hrs depending on the water level. Recent reports have indicated that the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy(SCORE) initiated by the Sarawak government to help alleviate the quality of life for some 608,000 people living in Central Sarawak including the Tutoh division of which villages like Long Terawan are located. These projects underlying aims are to further exploit the riches of the area in mining for coal seams and natural gas in the area. What’s more detrimental would be the 12 proposed dams that would inundate a vast area of land – land that belongs to the natives in the area; their native land rights and this includes the last remaining jungles. Parts of Mulu National Park would go underwater if all goes as planned by the Government. UNESCO has been contesting the plans stating that the status of the World Heritage Site would be at stake if they go ahead with the Tutoh dam.

All threats fall on deaf ears. The government are making every effort to woo companies from China to start industries in Sarawak. A dam has been earmarked for the sole purpose of producing enough ‘renewable energy’ to power One aluminium producing factory. Imagine the number of displaced natives and lost precious land to a one dam one factory proposal. The government speaks of creating jobs for the locals. In the end, it will not be the locals who get jobs but immigrants from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and illegals from the Philippines who will be imported in as cheap labour.

Long Terawan, Long Na’ah, Long Silat, Long Julan, Long Selatong and other villages located along riverines ~ their livelihood and their Native Land Rights will be lost forever if the government’s plans are to go ahead. Have a look at http://www.survival-international.org/files/mediabox/Sarawak_Energy_Confidential.pdf

Instead of such billion dollar projects which granted will help national economy, but helping the people immediately affected by the projects is always questionable. There are so much more to be developed in the tourism arena such as the rafting and kayaking potential in Tutoh where rapids downriver are ideal for such activities. There are limestone caves and ancient burial sites that have not been charted as yet. Huge tracts of rainforest that are supposedly protected are targeted. Have a look at the photos in the link above to see what they mean by damming area. Areas to be dammed will also be logged and many of these are primary if not secondary jungles.

The idyllic life that the natives of Baram will be forever altered and their dreams and aspirations will be displaced as the government leaders have been doing to them since Sarawak’s inclusion into Malaysia in 1963.