MIRI: Twenty-two families of Kampung Wawasan in Suai, Niah in the Miri division, have made a passionate appeal to the state government to urgently take the necessary action to exclude all the land that they have occupied and cultivated from the provisional lease issued to Mega Jutamas Sdn Bhd.
The said area which is about 250 acres is known as Lot 95 Sawai Land District which is used by the company to plant oil palm.
“We, the residents of Kampung Wawasan, Suai, Niah, Miri Division,
He said that Mega Jutamas is owned by a few shareholders who are already ‘multi-millionaires’ and who also owned other companies which have already been given thousands of hectares of State land by the Sarawak Government for loggings and oil palm plantations in various places in Sarawak including in Niah and Suai areas.
For these few individual ‘multi-millionaires’ they only need the land in Lot 95 to make additional business and profits, he said.
“But for us, this land is our only land on which we and our family members have built our houses and which we have cultivated productively with food and cash crops.
“Therefore, this land is our only shelter, source of food and income,” said Edi.
Edi’s statement came in the wake of a court case October 5, 2011 in which the villagers failed to claim the land from the company.
The villagers are waiting for the written judgment before deciding whether to appeal to the higher courts or not.
Edi added: “This is the time and opportunity for the Government to prove to us and all Malaysians that its promise of "1MALAYSIA – Rakyat Didahulukan (people first)” is real and not a mere empty election slogan whereby in practice, it is the already super rich towkays who are being ‘didahulukan’ or given priority.
“In our case, we were the ones who have lived on or occupied and cultivated the land much earlier. The provisional lease was only issued to the said company many years later.
“We have also continued to live on or occupy and cultivate the land until today with the encouragement of the Government and its agencies,” he said.
Edi said that before the provisional lease was issued, the people have repeatedly applied for the land which applications were supported by our elected representatives, namely, YB Dato Seri Tiong King Sing, (MP for Bintulu) and YB Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi, (ADUN for Kemena) who are both from the ruling coalition parties (BN).
The Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) which has a representative from the Sarawak Government has also assisted them by granting them licences to harvest and sell their oil palm fruits from their gardens.
The Subis District Council has also charged or collected levies in lieu of rates for our oil palm gardens.
The village committee has also been approved by the District Office and their Tuai Rumah has been officially invited as their Tuai Rumah to attend or participate in official functions, he said.
Further, the provisional lease issued to the company was issued subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study to be undertaken by the said company.
The EIA Report has been prepared and submitted to the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) which members, include the Chief Minister and Minister of Planning and Resource Management as Chairman, the State Secretary as Deputy Chairman, the State Attorney General, the Director of Lands and Surveys, the Director of Forests and the Director of Agriculture.
“Most importantly, the EIA Report approved by the NREB expressly and specifically requires that the areas (in Lot 95) are to be conceded to the plantation for development and areas to be left undisturbed (where required) must be clearly defined and agreed upon by all parties concerned.
“This requirement in the said EIA Report obliges the Sarawak Government to take necessary action to survey the land in Lot 95 to mark out the areas already occupied and cultivated by us therein and that these are to be excluded from Lot 95 or the said provisional lease.
“However, until today, this has yet to be done by the Government or the NREB or the Land and Survey Department,” Edi added.
“We have even referred the dispute between us and the said company over the land in Lot 95 to the court as we strongly feel that based on all of the said encouragement given to us by the Government and its said agencies, we have a legitimate expectation that our lands or gardens in Lot 95 would be excluded from the provisional lease.
“Unfortunately and to our great dismay, the Miri High Court has dismissed our said action.
“Therefore, we have no other alternative but to call upon the Sarawak State Government to now discharge or exercise its said responsibility (in accordance with the said expressed requirement in the said EIA Report) to take urgent and the necessary action to exclude our said lands or gardens from Lot 95 or the said provisional lease which is also in accordance with or in the fulfillment of its promise of 1MALAYSIA – rakyat Didahulukan,” Edi said.