Wednesday, May 11

Villagers torched machinery


KUCHING: About 500 villagers from 10 Bidayuh villages in Tebedu on Sunday 8 May burnt seven heavy machinery, four lorries and five logging camps after their elected representative Michael Manyin and the Police failed to look into their complaints.

The value of the destroyed properties believed to be worth several millions of ringgit.

Last month they met Manyin and lodged a number of Police reports regarding a certain timber company allegedly encroached into their native customary rights land.

Instead of peacefully settling the issue, Manyin who was recently elected as the representative of Tebedu said that when the problem was reported to him he was told that the villagers initially rejected their land being used for road construction.

According to Manyin, when the company offered them lucrative compensation, the villagers agreed and the only ‘trouble makers’ were the ones whose land was not affected.

He said: “They were not part of the group that received RM40 per square metre compensation for land affected to build the timber road, and they demonstrated by blocking the access road.

“They also destroyed a timber bridge,” he said.

But Manyin’s statement was hotly disputed by Bisa Duda, a spokesman of the villagers who demanded Manyin to apologise to them.

His statement that they were not offered the lucrative compensation was considered by the villagers as “insulting and embarrassing”.

Bisa said that the villagers were not interested in the compensation as they do not want the company to encroach into their NCR land.

“We are not after the money. We do not want the company to use our land and the jungle in our area as these are our ancestral properties,” Bisa said.

He accused Manyin of telling lies as the villagers never agreed to and allowed their land to be used for the construction of the timber road.

In Yesterday’s incident, the villagers went to the camp at about 10 am and torched seven machinery, four lorries and five workers’ camps.

The Police who also arrived at the scene could not do anything as they were not only outnumbered, but the villagers were emotional and angry.

When contacted today, one of the leaders who did not want to be identified said that they had to take the law into their own hands as their elected representative and the authorities failed to safeguard their interests.

They had failed to stop the logging activities and the villagers could not tolerate it any more.
“We have made several reports to the authorities and yet the logging activities still continue,” he said, pointing out that their crops, fruit trees and their land have been destroyed.

He also said that they had warned the workers to stop the logging activities, but they simply ignored their warning.

“We give them ample time, and when they fail to adhere to our warning, we have to take action. We have to burn down their camps and machinery.

“We really mean business,” he said.

Serian Police Chief ASP Awangku Ahmaddin Awang Wang who was present at the scene was not available for comment.

It is not certain whether anyone has been arrested.


Banting said...

Two weeks prior to the incident, some residents from the same villages had destroyed a bridge on the access road when protesting over the logging activities. Richard Riot said he visited the village but nobody had complained to him about the issue. I don`t believe him.

Who was to be blamed for this incident? Does it mean that the villagers` several police reports about the encroachments into their native customary rights (NCR) land did not merit for police investigation and action? It is not my intention to teach the police how to work, but if I were KPD Serian I would call for a dialogue session comprising the police, Land and Survey Department, Forest Department, MP and ADUN of that constituency and the villagers in order to find the best solution to solve the problem. In this issue the villagers plights were ignored, turned to deaf ears, that was why they took the laws into their own hand, but it was lucky enough the incident did not claim any human life.

Bayoi Manggie said that those who were always used land as an issue to stir the peoples mind to hate and reject Barisan Nasional to stop it right away because once you used that issue when there was no issue you would be chased away from that Kampong. Well, Bayoi Manggie what say you about this incident. No land issue? Are you going to chase these villagers from their Kampong? What a stupid idea?

Jambu Batu said...

Bravo.Law,in it's remoteness ,allow a person to act based on logic reasoning if the laws enforcers are not capable of giving the basic tenet of justice,natural justice.Laws mean justice and fairness,and if the laws enforcement agencies are not capable of administering its ,then a grieved citizen has every right to defend his rights against injustices and unfairness.Justice involves two parties,and neither side has the rights to deny and or deprive the other of their rights.So,if Manyin or the relevant authorities could not act to protect the natives rights,then there was equally nothing wrong with what the natives were doing,after all what other option do they have to safeguard their rights and interest.?

Sri Belalang said...

Many similar incidents had occurred everywhere in Sarawak in the past. These were all about land issues. Some incidents had claimed human lives, for instance the incident in Ulu Niah in 1996, and yet the government had failed to tackle the land issue.

There was a similar incident in Ulu Sebangan, Simunjan in October last year where more than 100 villagers allegedly burned the logging camp, heavy machinery and trucks estimated losses of about RM2 million.

Then a few days ago, in Tebedu the same incident took place. In these Ulu Sebangan and Tebedu incidents, the villagers blamed the police for did not take any action on their reports against the logging companies for encroaching into their native customary rights(NCR) land. May be the villagers are correct, should the police were pro active to act on their police reports, these two untoward incidents would not happened or at least could be prevented.

These two incidents are to brush aside the government claimed that the land issues in the state was purposely fanned by the opposition to confuse the people and to incite them to hate the government. The reality is the people doubt the government`s capability to over land issues in the state.

Anonymous said...

aya some what after logging the land will be given back to you and more important we clear ot free for you mah. some you can practice you farming without slash and burn that cause polution mah.

Banting said...

According to police source, six persons have been arrested in connection with this case in Tebedu. They are being investigated under section 438 of the Penal Code punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to twenty years, and shall also be liable to fine if found guilty.

Mr. Jambu Batu, what say you?