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Borneo tribes lose case over construction of dam
KUALA LUMPUR — A 12-year legal battle by indigenous tribes in Malaysia against their ancestral land being seized to build a mega-dam on Borneo Island ended in defeat Thursday in the nation’s top court.
Indigenous people present at the court said they were devastated by the ruling, while activists said it could encourage the government to requisition more land on Malaysia’s part of Borneo and create “internal refugees.”
The fight, seen as a test case, began in 1999, when the state government of Sarawak requisitioned land for the Bakun hydroelectric dam and a timber pulp mill on Borneo, famous for its biodiversity.
About 15,000 people were forcibly relocated to make room for a reservoir about the size of Singapore and the dam, which began generating power last month.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the Russian military had designated an area within its own airspace as dangerous for aviation northeast of Japan’s Hokkaido Island as it continued drills above the Okhotsk Sea.
The top government spokesman said the zone “seems to be set unusually close” to Japanese airspace.
“The government has conveyed our concern to Russia, making inquires about the link between the drills and the flight danger zone,” he said. “The government is closely watching the situation from the national security point of view.”
The disputed territories, controlled by Russia and called the Kuril Islands, lie on the fringe of the Okhotsk Sea and also are claimed by Japan, where they are collectively known as the Northern Territories.
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