Saturday, August 22

Another heartless act against the natives?

Some 24 smallholder oil palm farmers from Ulu Suai in Niah, Miri are asking Saremas to immediately repair the road that they had dug up, rendering it unusable for more than a month. The road, they said, leads from the main road directly to their farms and they use this road to transport their harvested oil palm to the nearby mill.

The farmers are from the following longhouses: Rumah Rajang, Rumah Atat, Rumah Umpur and Rumah Tapu. Because of Saremas’s actions in destroying the road, they are now unable to transport their oil palm harvests and sell their fruits. Their lives and primary source of income has now been disrupted.

Syarikat Saremas (PPB Oil Palm Sdn Bhd) is a company that also owns oil palms in the Ulu Suai, Niah area. On 14 July 2009, the company started digging up and cutting off the farm road in question.

The villagers feel that they have suffered many losses. On 14 July, the village headman, Tuai Rumah Tapu, also a farmer, made a police report in Batu Niah against the company. They have also appealed to the company however the company has refused to entertain their appeal. They say that the manager initiated the action on a directive from the top management, which suspects the villagers of stealing from the company’s plantations.

According to Siew Choon Siak of Rumah Rajang, Suai, one of the farmers’ representatives, “Saremas may have been acting all this while together with another oil palm company, Megajutamas to pressure the village people into giving up and selling their land to that said company.”

“But we did not suspect that Saremas was connected with this land case until our gardens were destroyed and our livelihoods lost.

“The villagers themselves tried to fill in and repair the road on 13 August 2009 but on 14 August 2009, the heartless Saremas dug up the road again”, he said.

Village head, Tuai Rumah Rajang, appealed to government representatives and other authorities to help them resolve the issue between the company and the villagers.

According to him, “If the problem is not resolved quickly, the livelihoods and daily income of the longhouse would be affected as this is our only source of income.”

Punai anak Beriak of Rumah Umpur and a committee member of the Rural Women’s Association of Sarawak (WADESA) also expressed her dissatisfaction with the company’s action. She appealed to the company to not be so cruel and destroy the lives of the villagers.

She said, “This is the only money from the smallholding that allowed our families to send our children to school.”

Jelita anak Bum from Rumah Atat said, “This whole month we were not able to harvest our fruit and all our hard work and income was destroyed because they destroyed the road.”

Amy Alus from Rumah Tapu hoped that the government or top representatives would be able to solve this problem quickly. She was concerned that this oppression by the company would result in a repeat of Ulu Niah history. She did not think the longhouse villagers would be problematic but they were now getting desperate.

According to them, a few months before, Megajutamas had also closed the road of the longhouses in the Ulu Suai area.

Siew, who is also a committee member of the Sarawak Native Customary Land Rights Network (TAHABAS), said that the prior land conflict with Megajutamas started in 2005 and has still not been resolved until today. He said that Saremas deliberately instigated a new problem for the villagers and villagers feel that they do not respect their native rights.

Siew also feels that the problem is not being handled sensitively by a government that carries the PM’s slogan ‘1Malaysia, Nation first’. Government representatives are aware that the community does not want the commercial oil palm company to enter into their communal land area because the company does not respect their rights as indigenous peoples (Orang Asal).

“We want our rights to be respected. We are against all suppression of our rights”.The Broken Shield



Anonymous said...

Oil palm licensee being hearless or the Natives?

Most cases involving oil palm companies and the natives are disputes of what the government categories as Stateland (leased to the oil palm companies) but being interpreted as NCR by the natives as their Pemakai Menoa.

The natives fail to understand that under the present State Land Code, Pemakai Menoa or the Pala Temuda is not recognised as NCR.

The natives go a step further by engaging the so called NGO (eg. BRIMAS) for a fee of RM2,000 - RM5,000 to study, survey and map their so called 'NCR'. These NGOs peg the boundaries on the ground like how a private licensed survey firm does a cadastra job, minus the technical know-how. Don't they know that such exercise is illegal under the Land Code? This so called NGO act as if they were the Survey And Mapping authority to tell public where the NCR should be.

This map is used by the natives to accuse the Provisional Lease holders for encroaching into their Pemakai Menoa or Pala Temuda, thinking that this map is the ultimate recognised documents under the law. For that, they ask for Pemali (for the encroachment that had disturbed the jungle spirits) and the worst part is, this demand usually does not tally with the amount that was stated in the Majlis Adat guideline.

Now, provisional lease holders being hearless or the natives?

jenn said...

Hi, I have an update on this case.

Jen R

Banting said...

Prolong conflicts between the Ibans and the oil palm plantation company in the area could lead to more serious incidents if no concerted efforts are taken by the authorities to defuse the tension.

Preventive measures, such as calling for a dialogue between the two group to settle the dispute amicably, without resorting to violence and provocative actions by both sides.

Anonymous said...

Again it's another daylight robbery! this land robbers are trying to make life difficult for these natives in the hope they will submit to their whims and fancy.

Where is mawan , jabu and masing! hey, come out and say something about this harrassment.put your words where your mouth is.


Agom said...

Mr. Anonymous 22 August 09 11.43AM,

I believe you are a person in authority. I am sure you know that community maps were accepted as evidence by High Court Bintulu in 2001 in the Nor/Luang case against Borneo Pulp Plantation Sdn. Bhd. NCR do not extend only to the longhouse areas and the cultivated land around them, but also include areas (temuda, pemakai menoa and pulau galau) in the high forest used by the people to hunt, fish and take forest products, a territorial domain of a longhouse community rights to land resource were created by pioneering ancestors.

Arising from the decision of the high court, the government of Sarawak introduced new land laws criminalising community mapping and gathering of forest products. The two land laws, the Land Surveyors Ordinance 2001 and the Forests (Amendment) Ordinance 2001 are seen the legal tools used by the government to grab the lands from the indigenous people in Sarawak. These two land laws are examples that defines the intention of the lawmakers.

Yes indeed, whereas the Land Surveyors Ordinance 2001 is meant not to legalise community mapping conducted by community efforts, the Forests(Amendment) Ordinance 2001 criminalise people who take forest products without any written permit. How can you need permission to benefit from what you have traditionally inherited from your ancestors? How can you make laws that do not protect and defend the interest of the people???

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