Indigenous people who refused to abandon their ancestral land to make way for the controversial Bakun Dam hydroelectric project have been joined by other tribal groups unhappy with conditions in the Sarawak State Government's resettlement area. They face an uncertain future since the federal cabinet decided last week to proceed with the scheme, which was shelved in 1997 when the Malaysian economy began to slide into recession. Although the Government had been expected to build a smaller dam, it has now opted for the original full-scale version. An area the size of Singapore, once home to around 10,000 farmers and fishermen, will be flooded. Despite the fact the project was on hold, the state Government went ahead with the resettlement of residents, virtually all of whom were moved into housing units at Sungai Asap, 30km from Bakun. About 60 families chose not to take up the offer of relocation and payment of compensation. Since the resettlement exercise was completed in July, 1999, a steady trickle of indigenous people have been returning to the Bakun region. A member of the Coalition of Non-Government Organisations Against the Bakun Dam said three separate groups of 60 or more families, numbering several hundred people, had returned. Some of them had built new homes at the edge of the territory, regarded as ancestral land, where they will probably not be reached by the dam waters. Others are living closer to the dam site and are in danger of losing their homes, but plan to stay until they are forced back by the advancing water. The Government is apparently taking no action against them. James Masing, chairman of the Bakun Resettlement Committee, said they would eventually have to go, as their homes would be submerged. Thomas Jalong, adviser to the Bakun Region People's Action Committee, said after visiting Sungai Asap that people were facing numerous problems. He said many people were jobless and had been denied fair and full compensation. Mr Masing said there were plenty of jobs in plantations, but the Bakun people were not keen to take them.