The Bakun Dam in Malaysia
Basic Facts:

Interior of the State of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, in
mountainous area. Land currently occupied by tropical forests, with shifting
cultivation, some logging, a few plantations

Components of project:

  • Rock-filled concrete dam, 204 metres in height, generating 2400 MW;
    largest in South East Asia
  • Reservoir, 70,000 hectares in area
  • Transmission lines to Sarawak coastline (ª 600 kilometres)
  • Undersea cable beneath South China Sea (650 kilometres--world's
  • For basic technical information about the project see:


  • Initial survey, early 1960s; more studies. early 1980s
  • First approved by government in 1986, shelved in 1990
  • September 1993: revived by Malaysian government
  • January 1994: contract awarded to Ekran Berhad
  • February-April 1995: Ekran completes EIA of project
  • March-May 1995: EIA approved
  • April 1995: Ekran begins clearing reservoir area
  • June 1995: International Rivers Network condemns EIA
  • December 1995: NGOs hold forum on Bakun
  • June 1996: Judge rules that Ekran failed to follow EIA regulations
  • July 1996: Ekran obtains interim appeal of ruling
  • October 1997: Diversion tunnels to be completed, construction of dam to begin
  • 2003: Completion of project?

Major participants in the controversy:

  • Malaysian non-governmental organizations opposed to
    the project
  • indigenous peoples affected by the project
  • non-governmental organizations outside Malaysia
    opposed to the project
  • Malaysian state and federal governments
  • Ekran Berhad (developer of the Bakun project)
  • international corporations contributing to the Bakun

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