When the elders in Nelson Raymond’s village heard of plans for a water catchment dam to be built on Sungai Papar in Sabah, many broke down in tears.
The dam would have caused the river’s banks to flood, submerging around 20 villages in the Ulu Papar area, including Raymond’s, and displacing thousands of villagers.
“The elders took it especially hard,” said Raymond, a 28-year-old Dusun media practitioner. “This place has been our home for generations. It’s where we were born and raised. Everything about it, from the forest to the rivers and waterfalls, are all part of our lives.”
But despite the magnitude of the problem, not many people – even those potentially affected – had any inkling of what was to happen. This was back in 2009, when villages like Raymond’s had no phone lines, let alone Internet access. Read more