The Star from Malaysia reported last week that a Chewong community has decided they would refuse to move from their current location despite the proposed construction of the Kelau Dam.

The paper quoted a 25-year old villager named Manau to the effect that the elders of the community would not agree to move. He felt that the rest of the Chewong had to abide by their wishes. The 4,090 hectare project threatens several Orang Asli communities that total about 500 people, including the small Chewong village.

Dr. Colin Nicholas from the Center for Orang Asli Concerns indicated that if the Orang Asli had to move, the proposed compensation would amount to six acres of land at the relocation site per household, oil palm seedlings planted for them on their new properties, and a monthly settlement of RM400 per month (US$114) for four years. They would also get new houses and new orchards.

Dr. Nicholas added that the monetary payments were insufficient. He released a five-minute video about the project on January 5, 2007, in which he maintains that the Chewong village is actually located well above the flood water level of the proposed reservoir. The website for the Center includes additional news about the dam project,

A spokesperson for the Malaysian Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA), according to the report in The Star, said that the government had not yet decided on compensation for the villagers affected by the proposed dam, and that discussions are still in progress. He added, “we are sympathetic to their problems. But the project is for the good of the nation.”