Public Relations, Client Brief

Public Relations, Client Brief





Public Relations, Client Brief

Factual Background

            Sarawak is one of the states in Malaysia. It is also the most underdeveloped state within the country. Conversely, it is the richest in terms of natural resources. It consists of indigenous people that rely heavily on the land and rain forests. The state is embarking on an industrialization project called Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), which is a series of dams*. It seeks to provide hydroelectric energy for the country. Unfortunately, this project will not benefit the natives of this land considering the electricity will be used to power cities. In addition, it poses a serious threat due to environmental degradation caused by mega-dams. As a result, residents of Sarawak have formed the SAVE Rivers Network, whose main intention is to fight off the government dam plans. Construction of these dams will mean relocating tens of thousands of residents living in the area because the dams will occupy a large area of their land. Furthermore, majority of communities living around this area are likely to lose their cultural heritage considering they are unique native tribes*.

Situational Analysis

            SAVE Rivers Network is an informal organization formed by residents of this state and a few non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in an effort to oppose the construction of these dams. The network is known as Save Sarawak Rivers Network that is shortened to Save Rivers. Currently, the network is small and involves a few residents. The indigenous communities are the most affected*. However, they do not have any coordinated effort to campaign against the project.

            The challenge started in 1986 when the government of Malaysia approved the project to construct a series of mega-dams in Sarawak state. Because of the known effect of such dams, some people started opposing the project. Some of the effects included eviction of residents whose land was flooded by the Bakun dam. These residents were compensated with three acres of land for each family, which was not viable for commercial purpose. Their lives deteriorated. The dam has not improved their lives in any way. Rather, the dam has had negative effects considering it increases the likelihood of the malaria disease and the destruction of biodiversity to both animals and plants.

Currently, it seems the government is not ready to give up its plan of constructing the planned dams. Some are underway while the first to be finished was surrounded by one of the biggest corruption cases in the country*. 20 years down the line, this dam does not produce its potential power because of corruption. If the government decides to carry on with the projects, it is going to affect a big area of land because it will occupy thousands of square kilometers of the forest and relocate many people.

The goal of the network is to continue extending further to include the indigenous tribes and other communities that are affected directly by construction of the dams, as well as other interested groups*. In 2011, the network started their campaign from a booth set up in Marudi during the Baram Ragatt, which was followed by an organized dinner for Miri fellowship aimed at creating awareness. The previous year, the network held a statewide conference regarding the impact of mega-dams. In this conference, the network sought to come up with a resolution on the approach to adopt to oppose the construction. The conference had eight speakers who presented papers on the impact of dams. All of them were knowledgeable professionals that included university professors, human rights advocates and environmentalists who had a high understanding of the dangers posed by the project. The conference informed many individuals and groups

Objectives of this network are numerous but the main ones are

  • Campaigning against construction of the mega-dams
  • Brining all the affected communities and interested groups together including NGOs to establish a strong team against the construction
  • Building up a network with easy ways of communicating and gathering information
  • Sharing and publicizing information regarding the destructive and adverse effects of mega-dams to all people within the state as well as other regions and
  • Gathering support and finances for events aimed at opposing construction of the dams*

 Best Practice Principles

            To achieve these goal and objectives, SAVE Rivers will need to adopt several practices that increase awareness to the people within the state. The best practices should provide the public with a lot of information on the looming dangers that will result should the government decide to continue with the project. One of the best ways create awareness to the people is using media outlets. Currently, the group has a social networking site where people can view the information. This is a good way of communicating to the people and gathering their views on the issue. However, other media channels should be included considering that social networks do not have a large coverage. Newspapers are ideal considering that most people have access to them. Television and radio stations are also very useful in informing the masses. Providing leaflets with information regarding the project also increases the chances of covering the entire population. To bring the affected communities and interested groups together, holding promotions such as road shows and rallies would create additional awareness and devotion from the residents of Sarawak. To gather enough information for convincing the communities, environmentalists and human rights activists should be included in the network. Finally, collecting funds to finance the network will require holding more conferences; inviting more guests and proving substantial reasons of oppose the project.


Bong Liza. Even before the International Hydropower Congress opens, it is already marred by its Silencing of dissenting voices. SAVE Rivers Network, May 20, 2013.

Borneo Independent News Service. “Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) – Press Release.” Borneo Independent News Service, February 14, 2012, “Malaysia,” International Rivers., September 6, 2013, “About Sarawak Dams.” Save Sarawak Rivers, September 6, 2013, “International NGO coalition condemns Malaysian dam plans.” [1] September 6, 2013,

*, “About Sarawak Dams”, Save Sarawak Rivers, September 6, 2013, 

*, “Malaysia,” International Rivers, 2013, accessed September 6, 2013,

* Liza Bong, Even before the International Hydropower Congress opens, it is already marred by its

Silencing of dissenting voices, SAVE Rivers Network, May 20, 2013.

*,  “International NGO coalition condemns Malaysian dam plans,” [1] September 6, 2013,

* Borneo Independent News Service, “Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) – Press Release,” Borneo Independent News Service, February 14, 2012,

* Borneo Independent News Service, “Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) – Press Release,” Borneo Independent News Service, February 14, 2012,

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