Sarawak Gone

Directed by Andrew Garton | Documentary 

Sarawak Gone is a micro-documentary series raising awareness to the persistent decline of indigenous life and culture in Sarawak, the native land titles and human rights that remain at stake and the rapidly diminishing habitats that remain.

Sarawak is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo and is home to more than 40 unique sub-ethnic groups, or Dayaks. These include the Penan, Iban, Bidayuh, Kenyah and Kelabit.

The Dam series

The Bengoh Dam is a water reservoir being constructed to supply water to Kuching, the capital of Sarawak. Construction has begun despite reports stating vast reserves of water can be saved were the failing infrastructure in the city repaired, upgraded and maintained. There are also concerns regarding protected flora and fauna, overlooked within the Environment Impact Assessment.

Dams are big business in Sarawak. No less than 12 dams are proposed for construction. Described as Malaysia’s Renewable Energy Corridor, and claims that the program responds to dwindling energy resources and climate change, has already seen the relocation of more than 10,000 indigenous peoples as the first dam, the infamous Bakun Dam, gets under way.

It is alleged that the construction of these dams will increase the wealth and power of Sarawak’s Chief Minister’s family and their operatives. In doing so, this internationally condemned project will see relocation of the last of Sarawak’s forest communities and the inundation of precious primary forest and native habit.

The Headman

On the 23 October 2007 Kelesau Naan, the Headman of the Penan village, Long Kerong, left his wife at a rest area in the forest to check on his traps. He never returned. Two months later his remains were found scattered across the Segita River.

Presented by his son, Nick Kelesau, The Headman explores the events leading up to his disappearance. Kelesau Naan sought only to protect his people and their native customary right to  the land they have lived in for centuries. His struggles may well had been his peril, but as Nick and his fellow Penan explain, his legacy endures.

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The Director

Andrew Garton is an Australian composer and multi-media artist.

He began producing and performing music in the late 70s as synthesist, saxophonist and spoken word performer. Bands of note that Andrew performed with include the punk/soul group Private Lives (1979 – 1983) and fusion/impro outfit Lingo Babel (1985-1987). In the late 80s he formed the acoustic based White Punks on Hope and the jazz-punk trio, Return from Nowhere.

Andrew has composed numerous documentary soundtracks, conceived and produced interactive installations, both on and offline; published articles on independent media, generative music and radio art; and worked with pioneer community internet provider, Pegasus Networks.

More on Andrew Garton

Support the effort to prevent the further loss of customary right to land, culture and traditions in Sarawak, visit http://www.toysatellite.org/sarawak-gone/

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