Tuesday, September 29

Kickbacks: Who should be blamed?

SRI AMAN: Tuai Rumah (longhouse chiefs) and village headmen have been warned against asking for any kickbacks from villagers under them for endorsing their applications for financial assistance from the government.

Bukit Begunan assemblyman Mong Dagang, who gave this strong warning, said illegal practice of asking for kickbacks would only tarnish the reputation of the Tuai Rumah and village headmen.

He said as leaders of their respective villages, they should be genuine and honest in helping the people under them. (The Borneo Post dated 28 September, page 6).

It is a good advice and a timely warning coming from YB Mong. We all know that many Tuai Rumah and Penghulu have been asking for “kickbacks” or “commissions” or “kopi o money” from their anembiaks before they sign any application.

But can we blame them for asking such “kopi o money”?

I would have thought that YBs and political leaders should be blamed, because they are the ones who have been “teaching” the community leaders to be corrupted. Come election, the Tuai Rumah would be called to assist in bribing their anembiaks into voting for the BN candidates. Some money would be passed to the Tuai Rumah who distributed them to their followers. Of course being the Tuai Rumah, they would be given bigger “commissions”.

Other forms of corruption include promising the Tuai Rumah some businesses, penghuluship, pemanchaship, temengongship, and even councillor posts as well as minor rural development projects.

Some Tuai Rumah have also seen some YBs receiving some “kickbacks” from timber or oil palm plantation companies which wish to fell timber or plant oil palm in their constituencies. Some YBs have also been asking from 10 to 20% commissions from minor rural development projects from those who are lucky enough to be given the contract works.

Reporting such corruption to MACC is wasting our time. We have lodged a number of reports before with MACC (ACA then) until today no action has been taken.

No wonder the Tuai Rumah and other community leaders are getting bolder nowadays in asking for “kickbacks”. – The Broken Shield

Source: www.thebrokenshield.blogspot.com

Thursday, September 24

Ng says Jabu should resign as minister

KUCHING: A State PKR leader Dominique Ng has described as farcical and negligent, the attempted denial by some senior Sarawak cabinet members, especially Alfred Jabu anak Numpang, a Deputy Chief Minister, of the findings of a federal report confirming the occurrence of rape against Penan girls in 2008.

“Jabu who is the minister responsible of Penan affairs should resign from all his posts to take full responsibility for the whole debacle which has now brought tremendous shame to the people of Sarawak,” said Ng, who is the state assemblyman for Padungan.

“The whole cabinet should tender an apology to the Penan people of Sarawak,” he stressed, when commenting on the reports of rape and sexual abuse against Penan girls and women.
He added: “The State government should immediately release the long overdue report in its entirety. It must give a just account to all the people of Sarawak and Malaysia.

“Police and court action must immediately proceed to return justice to the victims and their families,” he said, pointing out that the Police must be seen to be effective in combating crime, and public confidence in the criminal justice system in Sarawak must be restored and promoted by due promptness and effectiveness of the relevant authorities in action.

“The persecution and the sorry plight of the indigenous people of Sarawak occur repeatedly and this is a situation that cannot be tolerated by all decent Malaysians.

“State cabinet ministers concerned should be ashamed of their futile attempts to camouflage the commission of such insidious crimes against our own Sarawak people.

The international reputation of our beloved Nation and State has been severely compromised,” he said.

The occurrence of rape of the Penan girls was raised by Ng in the Dewan Undangan Negeri, Sarawak, during its November 2008 sitting after the initial exposure by the Bruno Manser Fund website in mid-September.

The Star newspaper had on 6 October reported on and confirmed the allegations based on its own on-site journalist investigation, which State cabinet ministers, MPs and State assemblymen had described the reports as “untruths”.

Even when the reports on the rape have been released and are found to contain some “truths”, there are some Cabinet ministers especially Jabu who question the credibility of the reports. – The Broken Shield


Monday, September 21

Another 11 Ibans to be charged

SRI AMAN: - Another 11 more Iban NCR land owners from Abok in the Pantu District in Sarawak have been arrested on Friday 18 September for harvesting oil palm fruits from their own land.

The arrest was made following a police complaint filed by the Pelita-Tetangga Akrab oil palm plantation.

This is the second arrest this month in the district. On 4 September six Ibans from Kasindu were picked up together with their three tons of oil palm fruits on a similar offence. They have been released after their statements were taken.

Cobbold John, an NCR land owner and oil palm planter said that a group consisting of 20 Iban males and five women in the group of 32 people last Friday was rounded up and spent a night in the custody of the Police. They were then allowed to go. Eleven others have their statements taken and are going to be charged.

"This is a clear case of harassment," said Nicholas Mujah, Secretary General of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association. "They are not going to be charged and yet they will have to spend one night in the custody of the police. It shows that the companies are able to exert influence over the police and government."
The communities' farm land was taken by Pelita-Tetangga Akrab in 2003 in a joint venture to plant oil palm, despite immediate protest and the filing of a court case by the communities affected. Though they have claimed to do this JV with the community, the vast majority of the communities had rejected the project and their right to free, prior and informed consent ignored.

As a desperate measure, the villagers have taken to harvesting the oil palm fruits that were grown on their land. Though numerous reports and complaints to the police have been made by the villagers, these have fallen on deaf ears.

"The government wants the natives not to leave their NCR lands idle. But when the native communities want to develop their own land by planting cash crops such as oil palm, they are being penalised", said Mark Bujang, Executive Director of Borneo Resources Institute, Malaysia (BRIMAS).

In Sarawak, native land rights are recognized by the Sarawak State Constitution and their rights to these lands have been reaffirmed through several key judgments in the Malaysian Courts. – The Broken Shield

Source: www.thebrokenshield.blogspot.com

Thursday, September 17

The State government the destroyer of Forests?

Kuching: The Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (BRIMAS) has called on the State Government of Sarawak to halt its current development policy and practice of developing its 1.7 million hectares of oil palm plantations as its development is tantamount to the build–up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

In a statement emailed to The Broken Shield, its executive director, Mark Bujang said that over the recent years some 750,000 hectares of land had been planted with oil palm trees, about 70% of this are in deep peat soil area in Sarawak.

“With this massive clearing of peat swamp forest and conversion of peat soil land for plantations, thousands of tons of carbon dioxide are going to be released into the atmosphere,” he said, pointing out to a study conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2007 on the role peat lands play in human-induced climate change, found out that the world’s estimated 988 million acres of peat land (which represented about three percent of world’s land and freshwater surface) are capable of storing some two trillion tons of carbon dioxide.

This, he said, was equivalent to about 100 years worth of fossil fuel emissions.

Sarawak’s peat land is one of the most fragile wetland systems in the world, Bujang said and added that 95% of peat land in Sarawak is deep peat that is more than three metres deep.

He said: “The state government of Sarawak’s target of planting one million hectares of land with oil palm next year is very alarming.

“As such, the widespread conversions of peat bogs into plantations will seriously affect environment especially when the stored carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere from drained or burnt of peat lands,”
he said.

BRIMAS he said had over the years carried out field monitoring on oil palm plantations and found out the nature of development activities taken place on peat lands are very destructive with extensive clearing of peat swamp forest and drainage of lands.

These activities, he added, had resulted in total loss of biodiversity as most of the plantations have taken the easy way out of clearing the lands through open burning.

“Hence Sarawak is continuously facing and experiencing poor air quality due to haze when there is dry weather,” Bujang pointed out.

He went on to say that the roundtable on sustainable palm oil (RSPO) proposals to amend the RSPO principle and criteria with inclusion of specific measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should be lauded and supported by all parties including the Sarawak oil palm owners association.

BRIMAS also called on the State government to stop issuing new licences for planting of oil palm over any peat land area in the state, he said, and also urged the government to stop the oil palm plantation companies from further clearing of forest for new plantations.

“By doing so, the government could avoid the accusations of being labeled as destroyers of the forest and ecosystems by opening up lands for oil palm plantations. Not only that, the government could stand high to prove to the global community that it has taken credible efforts in protecting and restoring peat lands in reducing our country’s carbon footprints as the world braces for global warming,” Bujang said.- The Broken Shield

Source: www.thebrokenshield.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 15

Iban Natives mount blockades against logging company

SIMUNJAN SARAWAK: About 120 Iban natives including women from Kampung Ensika, Kampung Entanggor, Kampung Tungkah Iban, Kampung Arus Sebangan are in full force once again setting up blockades to defend their communal land and forest from being destroyed by a logging company Hock Tong Hin (forest licence Holder of T/5090) and its contractor Forest Wealt Sdn Bhd.

This is the second time they have set up blockades to save their communal forest. The previous blockade was made on 14th day September 2006 and subsequently a suit was filed in 2007 (Suit No 22-118-2007) against the same licencee (Hock Tong Hin) which then their contractor was Roundtree Timber Sdn Bhd. The case trial has been set on the 8th December 2009.

Their spokesman, Nicholas Mujah said he had made a police report on the incident at the Simunjan Police Station on 9th September 2009 and also lodged a complaint with the Sarawak Forest Corporation whom he believed is the authority entrusted by the government of the day to deal with logging thief in the state.

“I am very much saddened and of grave concern with no action by authorities to stop government’s assets and monies being stolen in a bright daylight,” he said, alleging suspicious collusion between the SFC especially SAPU section and the logging company.

Mujah further said that when he and colleagues went to SFC office at Serian on the 8th September 2009 to check the validity of the said logging operation, they met one man who later acknowledged himself from the logging concession T/5090. He was seen to really control the office (like just sitting all over the tables belonging to the corporation freely as if on our first glance he was the boss there).

Mujah said: “And when told that the man is the officer from the logging company I approached him about our complaint. He told me that he can only say that I have to refer my complaint to their head office in Kuching.”

Mujah, however met the officer in charge by the name of David Mohamad who took down his little statement. The said officer had promised to call him in a few days later while making arrangement for a transport for field investigation.

Until today the officer has not called to him, claimed Mujah.

Meanwhile at the blockade site the natives had successfully met the “mandor” and stopped the locomotive laden logs from removing them from the communal area.

The blockade is still going on for the third day running. The people are yet to meet the police as normally expected.

Nicholas also said that the people are determined to defend their land and forest even if there are arrests to be made by the police.

“I am already immune to this situation and I will face the authorities and challenged them in the court of justice if my people are harassed or intimidated,” he said. – The Broken Shield

Thursday, September 10

Is Nyarok going to defend his seat?

Is Peter Nyarok (pic above) defending his deputy president’s post when Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) holds its elections in December this year?

This is the question being asked by many of his supporters and friends in view of his silence over speculations that he has offered to step down in order to make way for the Bintulu MP and treasurer general Tiong King Sing.

Even SPDP president William Mawan is unsure of Nyarok’s position; however he includes Nyarok in his line-up hoping that there will be no contests for the top posts.

Speculations have been rife among the members that Nyarok has negotiated with Tiong over the possibility of Tiong taking over the number two post as he wants to retire from politics.

It is learnt that the majority of the party’s supreme council and members are wary of Tiong’s intention to be the two of the party and thus they have held discussions to carry out “Plan B” whereby they want to challenge Tiong, and if need be Mawan’s leadership should he take Tiong as his running mate.

Of course Mawan is hoping that every thing will remain status quo. But Nyarok’s silence seems to confirm the rumours of his stepping down and this will inevitably open the way for the top posts to be contested.

Dr. Tiki Lafe, vice president of the party has already talked about the new line-up, when he said: “There is likelihood that even the top posts will be challenged including his own vice-president post. We are talking of a Plan B now and a new line-up.”

“What some of the us fear is that if Tiong becomes the number two, it will be a matter of time before he takes over the leadership of the party. If this happens, then there are bound to be troubles in the party,” said another member of the supreme council who requested not to be quoted in view of the sensitivity of the issue.

Several reasons they do not want Tiong to be the number two. Firstly, they see Tiong as the stumbling block for Dayak unity through merger between SPDP and Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS). The merger talks have been initiated five years ago and nothing concrete has come out of the proposal. Tiong has been known to be not in favour of the merger.

Secondly, they see Tiong and his company Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd are allegedly involved in the PKFZ scandal. The latest news about the scandal is that KDSB account to the tune of RM140 million has been frozen pending investigations into the case. The SPDP supreme council members fear that if any thing happens to Tiong, they do not want the party to be dragged along.

Another reason, and the most important one, is that they do not want Sarawak National Party’s history to be repeated. SNAP was saddled with crisis after crisis since James Wong took over the leadership of the party beginning in 1981. During his presidency, Dayaks’ interests and voices were suppressed.

He treated the party as his own company and did not tolerate any criticism; anyone who disagreed with him was expelled from the party. Daniel Tajem, the late Joseph Samuel and Patau Rubis were among victims of Wong’s dictatorial rule in the party. And even Tiong was a victim in the 2002 crisis which led to split in SNAP and resulted in the formation of SPDP in November 2002.

Some of the current SPDP’s supreme council members had bitter experiences in SNAP and they do not want the same thing happens to SPDP.

One among them is Nyarok, the retired school teacher, who came into prominence when he played a leading role together with Mawan and seven others in the 2002 SNAP crisis in which they disagreed with the SNAP president’s expulsion of Tiong from the party. Their disagreement led to them leaving the party and forming SPDP.

Upon the formation of SPDP, Tiong was given the post of treasurer general, while Nyarok upon the death of Peter Tinggom one year or so later was elevated to the post of deputy president.

“It is in this light that we oppose Tiong taking over as deputy president of the party and we will oppose him by challenging him,” said a SPDP leader who also refused to be identified.

“Moreover, Tiong has become too powerful in the party and has antagonized many supreme council members,” he said, adding that Tiong has been treating them with little respect.

According to him, Tiong rebuked them during last month’s supreme council meeting. He said: “Abis kami ditelanjai ka iya”. (Literally it means Tiong completely stripped them off).

Although Tiong’s outbursts did not go down well with some members of the council, they refused however to argue with him. Instead they preferred to keep silence, but his outbursts caused some fears and worry among them.

As they want to fight Tiong at all costs, many are worried about the consequences and Mawan must realise that four or five of SPDP’s State assemblymen are known to be leaning towards Parti Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), the backbone of the State government, which was responsible for their candidacies.

As claimed by a leader who is one of the initiators of “Plan B”, most of the elected representatives are in the second list.

“It all depends on Mawan. He must make a choice. Either he supports Tiong or supports Dayak unity. If he is supportive of Tiong, then he will be challenged,” said a senior member of the party.

Meanwhile, Party Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) which will hold its delegates conference later is watching with great interest what is happening in SPDP especially in respect of Tiong’s possible election as his party’s deputy president.

“If that happens, we know that the proposed merger between the two parties will not take place in the immediate future as we know that Tiong is against the merger,” said Tedewin Ngumbang, a member of PRS supreme council. - The Broken Shield

(Note the article was first published by the Malaysian Mirror and has been rewritten to suit the readers of The Broken Shield).

Tuesday, September 8

Fifty-Six years for Progress to reach Baram?

BARAM: Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu Ak Numpang has urged the Orang Ulu Community to be patient, saying that they may have to wait at least 10 years for the vast Baram district to experience progress and development.

“The government has development plans for Baram. Within the next 10 years there will be opportunities for the rural district to get out of vicious poverty cycle.

“The key, of course, is the people of Baram must work hand in hand with the government, with the Barisan Nasional and with one another,” he said at the opening ceremony of PBB Telang Usan triennial delegates assembly last Saturday.

From Jabu’s remarks, the people of Baram will only benefit from the fruits of Merdeka 56 years after Sarawak has obtained her independence through the formation of Malaysia. For the past 46 years, the district has been neglected, marginalized and suppressed.

If I am not mistaken, there was a proposal decades ago to build a trunk road from Miri to Marudi. The proposal was not approved because there were no economic activities there. Furthermore, the state government did not want to disturb, like in Kapit, the boat express services there. But who own these boat expresses?

Jabu admitted that another 10 years then the people of Baram’s rural district – the Kayans, Kenyahs, Berawans, Ibans, Penans and Kelabits – will “get out of vicious poverty cycle”.

By the time, when development eventually comes, if the promise is to be fulfilled, many of those who are now 46 years old or more (if they are born before and during Sarawak’s independence in September 1963) will be dead by then. Sad that they will never taste the fruits of Merdeka.

Jabu warned them of course they must support BN, otherwise forever they will never see development.

The Baram District has abundant wealth in the form of timber, and timber related products, bird nests, good land for agricultural activities and the reason why the people are poor is because the forests have been stripped off their contents leaving nothing for the people to survive on. No wonder the timber blockades are never an ending process. – The Broken Shield

Source: www.thebrokenshield.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 5

Six Ibans arrested for collecting oil palm fruits from their NCR land

SRI AMAN: Six Ibans were arrested at 3.00 pm on Friday, 4 September 2009 after what they claimed, collecting oil palm fruits from their NCR land. But Pelita Tangga Akrab oil palm plantation in Pantu lodged a Police report accusing them of stealing their oil palm fruits.

Police personnel from Sri Aman made the arrests following the report lodged by an officer of the company. The Police also seized a lorry loaded with three tons of oil palm fruits.

The six are Giang Ak Junit, 37, Mansu Ak Kasi, 33, Banyat Ak Dundang, 40, Riky Ak Kunjin, 30, Robby Ak Juny, 23 and Fradaus Ak Liang, 19 all from Abok, Sri Aman.

They were released about six hours later from Sri Aman Police Station on Police bail after their lawyer, Dominique Ng intervened.

According to Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA), secretary general Nicholas Mujah, who accompanied Ng to the Police Station, the six denied stealing oil palm fruits belonging to Pelita.

They only harvested the oil palm fruits from their own NCR land which Pelita planted with oil palm without their consent. But Pelita claimed the fruits are from their plantation.

Early this year, four persons were arrested for collecting oil palm fruits from their NCR land at the same plantation.

Meanwhile, several NCR landowners had filed a court case against the company for illegally encroached into their NCR land. The case is pending hearing in the High Court.

Mujah said the case has been postponed several times.- The Broken Shield

Source: www.thebrokenshield.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 2

Appeal to TYT to help settle NCR land issue

Residents of four longhouses of Ulu Suai, Batu Niah, Miri have submitted a memorandum to TYT Yang Dipertua Negeri Sarawak Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin seeking his help to intervene in their dispute with an oil palm company, Mega Jutamas Sdn Bhd over a piece of land of 313.54 hectares at Lot 95.

The memorandum was submitted on 27 August 2009 to the Astana by a seven-man delegation led by Siew Choon Siak. It was received by his Aide-de-camp.

Copies of the memorandum have been extended to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, State cabinet ministers and elected Dayak representatives.

The same group also sought the assistance of the Human Rights Commission in Sarawak which promised to raise it with its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

In the memorandum they appeal to the Head of State to intervene since he has been entrusted by the State Constitution to look after interests and welfare of the people of Sarawak especially the natives including the Dayak Ibans, saying that they have exhausted all avenues to solve the dispute with the oil palm company.

“We the poor people would like the Lot 95 that we have cleared and farmed much earlier than the company need to be defended and protected,” said Siew of Rumah Rajang.

He said that they also appealed to the Head of State to tell the company and its workers not to disturb and undermine their livelihood including threatening and frightening them by using gangsters and Police.

“We also want the land be given to us in accordance with the Federal Constitution that gives priority to the natives to be given land titles to their NCR land,” he said and appealed to TYT to urge the government to stop taking away their NCR land and to revoke the provisional lease on Lot 95.

The residents of the four longhouses – Rumah Rajang Ak Sengalang, Rumah Tapu Ak Galis, Rumah Aatat Ak Pengiran and Rumah Umpor Ak Lunsa - began planting the land at Ulu Suai, Batu Niah since 1996 with cash crops and oil palm.

According to Siew, the people have lived peacefully and harmoniously until the government leased the land to Mega Jutamas in May 2005.

Several meetings, he said, have been held with the company and the government and it seemed that the company simply ignored their request and did not respect their culture and their way of life.

Siew said that they have exhausted avenues to settle their dispute with the company including seeking assistance from the State Assemblyman for Kemena, the MP for Bintulu, the Minister of Land Development Sarawak, the Chief Minister and the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

“All our efforts have failed. Now we would like the Head of State to intervene,” he said, adding: “If nothing comes out from this appeal to the Head of State, then we raise the issue at the UN forum of indigenous peoples.

“And this can become a big issue that will have big impact not only on Malaysia palm oil exports, but also on Mega Jutamas oil palm company as well as other oil palm companies in Sarawak,” he said. – The Broken Shield

Source: www.thebrokenshield.blogspot.com