Image – Koboi Kembara Lagi: Berhijrah, 8 The Fish if Fine, copyright by Niranjan Rajah. Preparatory sketch for photographic work. Image source Vancouver Sun
I am moved to hear that the PETRONAS LNG Project on Lelu Island will not be going forward. My latest email conversation on 13 July 2017 with Donnie Wesley, Simoyget (hereditary chief) Yahaan, who has lead the opposition to the project valiantly, reflects the pressure his movement has been under of late. Here is an extract from the the Chief’s last email to me, ” … many thanks for expressing the views of many. My court dates are encroaching and feel the need to scream as the misery of my people is real … “.
And for the record, here is what I had written to him that prompted his reply, “…. I feel many people do not understand what is at stake … even native people seem to be polarized between an ideal Turtle Island where the settlers and immigrants are gone and some kind of unreflective engagement with the Canadian State… ie. some are happy with the trickle down of benefits from the state … My own position as an immigrant is that I am here and I am here to stay but I want Canada to move towards a meaningful recognition of First Nation rights and claims to their remaining assets and authority … The key to Native reclamation is the insistence on proper consultation before anything else. This is what you are doing and I hope the Federal Court sees justice through“.
In all honesty, I must say my own feelings are very mixed with regard to this great victory for the Chief. I am so happy for him and his people. I am happy for the environment and the fish. I am happy for my children who will is some way inherit the environment that the present generation of deciders and actors leaves behind on this beautiful coastal land. I am however somewhat disappointed as a Malaysian that this momentous transpacific engagement will not take place and, as an artist, I feel that, suddenly, I have lost my muse!