Saturday, October 29

Can PRS be able to replace PBDS?

KUCHING: While Sarawak United People’s Party and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party are embroiled in leadership tussles, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) is positioning itself to become the second largest party in the state Barisan Nasional after Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu.

Despite it is a comparatively new party, PRS is slowly gaining its strength among the Dayak community, and in its seven years of existence it has now more than 45,000 members about 99.9% percent of them are rural Dayaks.

It has six members of parliament and eight state assemblymen, while SPDP has four MPs and six assemblymen and SUPP has five MPs and six assemblymen.

PBB has 14 MPs and 35 assemblymen. DAP has two MPs and 13 assemblymen, PKR has two assemblymen and one independent assemblyman.

Its six MPs are Joseph Salang (MP for Julau), who is also deputy minister of information, communications and Culture; Joseph Entulu (Selangau), who is also minister of rural and regional development; Billy Abit Joo (Ulu Rajang), Aaron Dagang (Kanowit), Masir Kujat (Sri Aman) and William Nyallau (Lubok Antu), and its eight state assemblymen are James Masing, Land Development Minister (Baleh), Alexander Vincent (Ngemah), Joseph Mauh (Tamin), John Sikie (Kakus), Mong Dagang (Bukit Bangunan), Snowdan Lawan (Balai Ringin), Liwan Lagang (Belaga) and Malcolm Mussen (Batang Ai).

In his speech at the 7th anniversary dinner on October 21, PRS President James Masing was very blunt warning party members that they must adapt to the changing political landscape if they want to see that the party not only remains strong, but also relevant.

“We are facing very organised, focussed and determined political foes who have gained public acceptance,” he said to more than 2,000 members at the dinner.

To his BN partners, he cautioned them that they cannot take for granted any more the support from the rural people although they may be BN’s ‘fixed deposit’ before.

“BN must tackle each segment of the society differently and with great care. It would be a mistake if we assume that all Malaysians want the same thing.

“We cannot lump rural and urban needs under one request, nor can we bluff and frighten our people to support us by denying them minor rural projects (MRP) funds if they refuse to heed to our requests.

“The political landscape has gone beyond MRP. Many candidates and political parties have fallen on the wayside because they failed to move and change with times and demands of their constituents,” said Masing, predicting that more will fall in the years to come if we do not change and adjust to the new political development.

Masing who is Land Development Minister also spoke of the many obstacles and challenges that the party had faced and overcome in its seven years of existence.

Masing was referring to a leadership crisis that had almost led the party to deregistration. It was only saved from such fate with the help of the then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in April 2009.

Indeed it has a very turbulent history.

PRS was formed following a leadership crisis in Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) as a result of Masing teaming with Sng Chee Hua trying to challenge Daniel Tajem and Joseph Salang for the party’s two tops in the 2003 party election.

The determination by both sides to win the party leadership had created a deep division within the party so much so that each had its own ‘headquarters’ with its own ‘president’ and its own ‘supreme council’.

Both camps accused each other of cheating and submitting false annual returns to the Registrar of Societies, and as they did not trust each other, the two camps organised their separate ‘triennial delegates conferences’.

The two camps brought their complaints to the Registrar of Societies. As they were unable to see eye to eye on how to solve the crisis, PBDS was deregistered on December 5, 2003.

Tajem and Salang met with the then Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi to appeal for reinstatement of PBDS, and they were given another chance to organise another TGA.

When both sides still could not agree to the terms and conditions of holding the proposed TGA, PBDS was deregistered for the second time on October 21, 2004, the day when Masing’s men registered Parti Rakyat Sarawak.

Tajem and Salang refused to bring the matter to court.

Meanwhile, Masing’s party applied to join the Barisan Nasional and was readily accepted. Initially PRS had difficulty in getting ex-PBDS members to join the party, but after some time some leaders in the Tajem camp including elected representatives joined the party.

However, PRS was not that lucky. As it tried to regroup itself, the party was hit by another crisis when its deputy president Sng Chee Hua tried to replace Masing as the president of the party allegedly over some business opportunities.

The Sng group alleged that Masing did not share with them some of the lucrative projects and tenders given to the party.

As if history repeats itself. What happened to PBDS between 2003 and 2004 happened to PRS in 2006 organising their separate assemblies, and in the process the two camps elected their own ‘presidents’, with two ‘headquarters’ and two ‘supreme councils’.

Masing was ‘elected’ president of his camp, while Larry Sng who took over from his father was ‘elected’ president in his group. Larry Sng ‘sacked’ from his party, Likewise, Masing ‘sacked’ Larry Sng and all those who supported him from his party.

The two leaders, however, brought their case to be settled by the Registrar of Societies as to which one of the group was legally elected.

It was only in April 2009 when the Registrar recognised Masing and his supreme council were legally elected.

Now as the party celebrates its 7th anniversary, many Dayaks especially the former members of the defunct PBDS who have remained partyless are still harbouring suspicions on Masing’s motive and are unconvinced of his efforts to fight for the interest of the Dayaks.

They still can remember what he had done to PBDS which had then become the household word among the Dayak community.

Lately, however, Masing seemed to project himself as the spokesman of the Dayak community when Alfred Jabu, PBB Deputy President and Deputy Chief Minister and William Mawan Ikom, SPDP President and Social Development Minister appeared to be quiet on issues that concerned the Dayaks.

Masing is very vocal on issues such as the lack of Dayaks in the state civil service and the number of Dayaks holding high and important posts in government and government-linked companies, the perimeter survey of NCR land, the definition of NCR land, dams and the resettlement of displaced natives, and oil palm plantations in native lands, excessive timber operations and logjam.

On some of the more sensitive issues he privately told BN leaders of his concern and fear that they might be exploited by the Opposition.

It is understood that his party does not agree with the state definition of NCR land which comprises only temuda land (farming land), but agrees with the Court definition that NCR includes pulau galau (communal forest), pemakai menua (territorial domain), grave ground, tembawai (land where the old longhouses had been built), farming land, gardens, and etc.

In a recent seminar on NCR land, he has come up with a new strategy to develop the NCR land such as urging the natives to go for small holding under government supervision.

“Masing’s biggest problem is to convince the Dayaks especially the young and educated ones to support him in order to make PRS as the platform to fight for their interest within the Barisan Nasional.

“And if he is able to convince them, then Masing is not only able to get a listening ear from Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, but he can also able to make PRS to play role of the defunct PBDS.

“Otherwise, Masing’s efforts are mere rhetoric for the consumption of the general public particularly the Dayaks,” said a former PBDS Member of Parliament.

As the Iban saying said: “ikak lelengak ikan enda ngaban, kudi muri hari enda ujan”.

Thursday, October 27

Dutch Govt bans Sarawak Logs

26 Oct 2011

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR today warned the state government of the seriousness of the logs ban imposed by the Dutch government if the state continues not to comply with the conditions of the international timber certification and trade regulations.

Other European countries may follow suit, See Chee How, state PKR vice-chairman said.

“Although the European countries only import about 2% of timber from Sarawak, the consequences of ignoring the conditions for sustainable forest management would be far worse than we can imagine,” he said.

“We do not see the impact now, but in the long run we will suffer,” he added, pointing out that PKR supports sustainable forest management.

See, who is the Batu Lintang assemblyman, said that he would raise the matter in next month meeting of the state legislative assembly.

He said most of Sarawak logs go to Japan which accounts for 38%, India 12%, Taiwan 10% and Korea 9% and the rest to America, other Asian and European countries.

“Such ban will affect timber exports from these countries as the finished products such as furniture will be traced coming from Sarawak,” he said.

“The EU will certainly ban those products later on,” said See.

The assemblyman who is also a lawyer and activist was asked to comment on the ban of logs by the Dutch government.

He said that the state government’s regulations governing forestation were well below world standards.

It does not respect the rights of the natives as well as respecting the decisions of the courts which uphold the rights of the natives over land.

The environmental impact assessments (EIA) in Sarawak are inadequate to assess sustainability and no guarantee can be given that Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS) certified forests do not disappear for other land uses such as plantations.

“The government leaders are only interested to make as much money as possible through their cronies. They just ignore long term benefits at the expense of the natives’ rights,” he claimed.

Sarawak is one the world largest exporters of tropical timber. In 2008 alone, more than RM7.4 billion worth of timber products and logs were exported.

In 2009 the exports of timber went down to RM4.15 billion and picked up in 2010 to RM4.75 billion.

The timber exports this year have increased by 20% from the previous year due to higher demands from countries like Japan which suffered due to earthquakes.

It is expected that the value of timber exports may increase to more than RM5 billion by the year end.

Tuesday, October 25

Budget losers

24 Oct 2011

SIBU: Rural students in Sarawak will have to spend RM300 on transportation charges just to claim the RM100 allocated to them under the Budget 2011.

At a Press conference on 23 October, Sarawak teachers’ Union president William Ghani Bina said it was not only inconvenient for the students to go to the town to collect the money but also costly for them to do so.

He said that spending RM300 to get the RM100 would defeat the purpose of giving them the money to buy books.

“It will be more meaningful for the RM100 to be given to the students’ respective schools to buy library books or computers as this will be more useful to them. If a town schools has 2,000 students, the money collected will be big enough for effective long term use,” he added.

William said that RM100 was not much today and it would be better for the government to consider giving the money to the schools to handle. – The Star.

Is this part of the election goodies?

Friday, October 21

Registration of households for RM500 aid

21 Oct 2011

KUCHING: The government will start register households with a combined income of RM3,000 or less for the RM500 aid.

The registration will be done through the Inland Revenue Board.

Are the Iban households entitled to the RM500 aid?

Not least than 30,000 Iban households are in the hardcore poor. Even many of the households in Pelita JV oil palm schemes are poor as they are paid between RM12 to RM15 per day.

And who will do it for them? The elected reps or district officers or the Tuai Rumahs?

Tuesday, October 18

DAP to contest Serian seat

18 Oct 2011

SERIAN: The Serian Parliamentary constituency is likely to see a straight fight between DAP-Pakatan Rakyat and SUPP-BN in the coming state election.

“This is because Pakatan Rakyat has agreed to DAP contesting the Serian seat,” said Sarawak DAP Secretary Chong Chieng Jen at the opening of Serian DAP service centre.

DAP has identified a number of potential Bidayuh candidates for the Serian seat against the incumbent from Sarawak United People’s Party Richard Riot who is certain to go for his sixth term as an MP.

The constituency has 29,963 voters, with 24,540 Bidayuh voters, and there are 3,216 Chinese voters, and the rest are Malays and Ibans.

Chong, who is the Kota Sentosa assemblyman said that DAP has now revived its branch in Serian under the leadership of Edward Luak, who is the chairman of the DAP branch here.

“With more people coming in to join the party, Serian is now moving on the right track, and from here we are moving to another milestone, that is, Serian will be contested by DAP.

“We will give the Barisan Nasional a good fight and a run for their money,” said Chong, urging members and supporters to put 101% efforts to ensure that Pakatan Rakyat will capture the Serian seat.

On the service centre, he said that it will serve as an operation that will play an important role in the coming general election.

In opening the centre, Lim Kit Siang, DAP national adviser, asked Sarawakians: “What can you get by joining DAP?

“It will not be able to offer you material benefits, to give you tenders, timber concessions or to give you big cars.

“No, DAP cannot give you that, but it can give you an opportunity to serve the people of Sarawak and Malaysia and to ensure that justice and freedom prevail in the country.

“That is our duty,”
Lim said, asking every member to be patient, diligent and committed.

“We must have the determination to ensure justice and freedom prevail, and this is our biggest challenge,” he added, pointing out that it took the party 28 years to claim six seats in the 2006 state election, and 45 years to make an impact in Peninsular Malaysia.

Now the six seats have now increased to 12 seats, he said.

Lim said that their mission is not to topple the state government as it had already held its state election.

“We are going to change the Federal government and its policies, and when the Federal Government is changed, the state is certain to change, a fundamental change.

“And only then you can see the full operations of democracy, freedom and justice in the country,”
he said.

Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim DAP national vice-chairman, who was present at the function, told the people to regard their votes as their most valuable ‘properties’.

“Don’t sell your votes. Your votes are your most valuable properties. If you throw away your votes, then you lose your power to bring change to the government.

“The coming general election is very important. It is an opportunity for you to change the government.

“Malaysia and Sarawak need change after 50 years or so under the Barisan Nasional rule,” he said, adding that they should not complain, if they do not want to change.

Monday, October 17

Duo to be blamed for SADIA's predicament

16 October 2011

According to the Borneo Post dated 16 Oct 2011, Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) president Sidi Munan and secretary general Nicholas Mujah should be held responsible if the association is deregistered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

SADIA Bintulu branch secretary Thomas Nyaring said the delegates who attended the triennial general meeting on October 1 were not even told of the ROS show cause letter by either Sidi or Mujah.

“Sidi and Mujah should have called for an emergency meeting to explain to all the SADIA branches in Sarawak of the show cause letter they have received from ROS as most SADIA branches in Sarawak were not aware of their failure in carrying out their duties as president and secretary general.

“They even failed to produce written secretary’s report and statement of account during the last TGA on October 1,”
he complained in a statement.

He said the duo should have resigned from SADIA if they were not able to handle the association’s affairs.

“They are only trying to get cheap publicity by holding the posts as president and secretary general of SADIA hindering some government programmes using SADIA as their base.

“I advise Sidi and Mujah to join one of the political parties if they want to be active in political activities and leave SADIA as to someone else so that Iban community can still rely on SADIA as their body to look after their cultural heritage and welfare,” he said.

Saturday, October 15

SPDP crisis deepens

14 Oct 2011

KUCHING: As the two-year old crisis in Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party deepens, the five rebels popularly known as the ‘SPDP 5’ challenge the party to expel them by refusing to reply to the show-cause letter given to them.

“It is up to them to expel us. That is their business. We are not going to reply to the show-cause letter,” said Peter Nansian, Senior vice-president of the party.

“Our statement today is good enough in response to the show-cause letter,” he added at a Press conference.

The other four are the MP for Mas Gading Dr. Tiki Lafe, vice-president; Sylvester Entri, vice President and Marudi assemblyman; Rosey Yunus, Supreme Council member and Bekenu assemblywomen, and Paulus Gumbang, supreme council member and Batu Danau assemblyman.

So far only Entri has received a show-cause letter as to why action could not be taken against him after he failed to attend the party’s supreme council meetings and other functions organised by the party.

“If the party takes action against one of us, it means you take action against all of us, and we will act as a group,” Nansian said.

“We have pledged to sink and swim together,” he added.

Asked if they are going to form a new party in the event they are expelled, he said: “We will tell you when we cross the bridge.

“For the time being, we are looking for the best solution to resolve the conflict in the party,” said Nansian, who is also the Tasik Biru assemblyman.

It is understood that the ‘rebels’ have formed a committee to study the possibility of forming a new party as well as to look into a temporary parking with one of the parties in the state Barisan Nasional.

Or they may remain partyless, but for Nansian, Entri and Rosey, their positions as assistant ministers are at the pleasure of the Chief Minister.

There was a precedent in the person of Larry Sng, who was partyless, but the Chief Minister still retained him as assistant minister.

Earlier reading a statement, Nansian said: “Today is one of the saddest and most regrettable moments of our lives to have come to a point that we have to make a decision to declare that we have lost faith and confidence in our President.

“He has now apparently no longer can resolve the current conflict in the party amicably and peacefully to maintain party unity and stability and to protect and safeguard BN seats vested in the party for a continuously strong BN government for the good of the rakyat.

“The last straw on the camel’s back that forced us to make this decision is that if the president seriously wants to resolve the current conflict in the party a ‘reconciliation or unity committee’ should have been formed rather than the ‘disciplinary committee’ to take action against us, which we feel very unfair and done solely chop us off,” he said.

Nansian said: “While we have extended our hands in reconciliation over the last two years by meeting him no less than three times formally as a group and more times on informal occasions, and agreed on many points on how to reconcile and work together to maintain stability and make the party stronger, has he implemented accordingly?

“Or is it not in the contrary whereby he has made many controversial remarks that create much uneasiness and suspicion within the party as well as between BN component parties?” he asked.

Nansian blamed the president for labelling them as the ‘rebels 5’ and the ‘group of 5’ and thus started the friction and faction in the party.

He also said the group is not happy when the president branded them as nominees of a BN component party and at the same time accused other BN component leaders of meddling in the party’s internal affairs.

Nansian said: “Our group pledges our undivided support to the leadership of Barisan Nasional at federal and state level.

“We will serve our people in our constituencies in the name of Barisan Nasional. We won the last state election with big majorities under the banner of Barisan Nasional.

“We will sink and swim with BN under the wise leadership of Prime Minister and Chief Minister of Sarawak,” he said.

Nansian did not specifically mention that Mawan should step down, but by saying that they have lost faith and confidence in his leadership, they are indirectly calling on him to step down.

To the group, that will be the ‘best solution’ to solve the conflict.

Except for Tiki, who had to attend to an official business, the rest were present at the press conference.

Meanwhile, Mawan when contacted refused to comment on the statement that the group has no faith and confidence on his leadership.

However, he is expected to issue a statement later.

The conflict within the party started after the December 2009 party election during which Mawan did not want any challenge to the top leadership after he heard some grumblings within the party.

One of the things that made members unhappy was the idea to extend its wing to Peninsula Malaysia. The idea came from the treasurer general Tiong King Sing, the MP for Bintulu, who had his own reasons to extend the party to the peninsula.

Among those who strongly opposed the idea was none other than Sylvester Entri, then the Secretary General. Tiong was heard by reporters of hurling unpleasant words against Entri and those present during one of the supreme council meetings.

From there on, rumours of ‘Team B’ preparing to challenge the leadership were circulated. But Mawan did not want any challenge to the president’s team by insisting on a status quo.

A pledge to that effect was signed by Mawan himself and distributed to all party leaders.

The ‘Team B’ agreed if their men like Entri retained as Secretary General. But in January 2010 in a supreme council meeting, Mawan replaced Entri with Nelson Balang Rining.

This triggered the conflict when the group walked out together with three other members from the meeting.

Since that January, the group had not attended any of the supreme council meetings or functions organised by the party.

Thursday, October 13

Another broken promise

13 Oct 2011

KUCHING: What has happened to a clinic that was proposed to be built at Kampung Stungkor, Lundu before the 2002 state election? asked Foo Ah Kee, whose land was acquired for the clinic.

“I have no idea whether the government actually has any plan to construct this clinic, but I do know that there is a real and urgent need to cater for the medical needs of the people,” he said.

Another villager, known only as Madam Tapin, spoke of her problems when she got sick and needed to see a doctor during her husband’s absence.

“It is so difficult to look for someone to drive me to the Lundu or Bau hospitals to seek treatment, and it would be much easier if the clinic had been built as it would a walking distance from my house,” said Tapin, who is in her early 60s.

Their sentiments are shared by at least by 5,000 people from nine Bidayuh villages in the locality.

When the proposal to build the clinic was announced just before the state election in 2002, the people applauded it even though they knew it to be one of the election ‘goodies’.

Once completed, it would provide out-patient services, mother and child healthcare services and maternity wards for the villagers and at the same time it would help to reduce the pressure exerted on the accident and emergency (A& E) departments of Bau and Lundu district hospitals.

Now more than nine years later their joy turned into frustration and anger as they felt cheated by the State Barisan Nasional and its elected representatives for failing to fulfil their promises.

“This is another broken promise by the Barisan Nasional,” said Boniface Willy Anak Tumek, a member of Sarawak PKR political bureau.

Willy has been exposing the BN’s unfulfilled promises made during the state and parliamentary elections, and such projects included roads, bridges, water, electricity, rural growth centres (RGC) and land titles to native customary rights (NCR) land.

Checked with the medical department, Willy said that it is confirmed that such a clinic would be constructed under the 9th Malaysia Plan but it is given a low priority by the Ministry of Health.

According to Willy, the villagers are very upset with the way they have been treated for the past nine years.

“How is it that after nine years we are still not considered as deserving of this most basic of public service which every citizen by right is entitled to enjoy?

“Election after election we have proven our loyalty to the BN government and helped to return them to office. It is very upsetting to know that they have placed no value on our support at all.

“This is not the first time that we have been treated shabbily,” complained Tapin’s husband.

Willy said that the villagers are now demanding that the Minister of Health Liow Tiong Lai, the MP for Mas Gading Tiki Lafe, Assistant Minister of Public health Jerip Susil and their Opar assemblyman Ranum Mina to ensure that the clinic be built before the 10th Malaysia Plan expires.

“We would like to remind Ranum that the clinic was promised to us, in part, to persuade the voters to vote for him and elect him to high office.

“And he owes us this clinic,” said Willy, a committee member of PKR Mas Gading division.

Tuesday, October 11

Budget: Nothing for Sarawak

KUCHING: Sarawak has not been given much attention by Barisan Nasional government in the Budget 2012 although its rural areas are their ‘fixed deposit’ claimed a Sarawak DAP leader.

“There is nothing much in the budget, except the mention of building some roads, supply of electricity and water to the rural areas. Even then we don’t know the amount as we have to share with Sabah,” said Chong Chieng Jen, DAP Secretary.

“Given 20% of the RM232 billion of the total expenditure is for development, how much can Sarawak get for its development? In this type of budget, Sarawak roads will remain substandard forever.

“The amount of money given to Sarawak for its development does not commensurate with its contribution to the national coffer,” said Chong, who is the Bandar Kuching MP.

Commenting on the Budget 2012, he said: “For the past 14 years running the nation has a total deficit amounting to more than RM436 billion.

“The next year budget has lot of goodies. Where will money for all these come from? And I think the only way for the government to finance all these is to obtain loans.

“We expect to incur RM45 billion deficit, and if you add this, our deficit will easily come to RM500 billion. This will be more than 50% of GDP,” he said, pointing out the Greece went bankrupt when its deficits reached 67% of its GDP.

“We are very near towards that direction,” he warned, describing the budget as a very unhealthy one.

He said that 80% of the nation’s budget is for administrative operations and emolument, while 20% is for the development fund.

“Funds for development projects such as roads will help to stimulate our economy,” Chong said, suggesting that the balanced budget should be 60% for administrative operations and 40% for development.

He said that the imbalanced budget had been going on for the past few years due to the over sized civil service.

“For this year, we see the emolument of 1.2 million civil servants, and the amount spent on this is more than the whole amount of development fund for the whole country. This is very inefficient use of money.

“That is really shocking,” he added.

Chong welcomed the government’s allocations of fund for Chinese and Mission schools and RM500 for a poor family, RM100 each for school children and RM200 each for university students, pointing out that the only good feeling is that something is better than nothing.

“But the government can’t really solve the financial burden of the poor. It does not address the poverty issue unlike our Alternative Budget.

“We give monthly allowance to the poor, and yet we can manage to reduce the expenditure.

“The main difference between the BN budget and alternative budget is that we emphasise on open tender, anti-corruption and the efficient use of resources, where as the BN budget is deafening silent on anti-corruption, cronyism, wastages and leakages,” he said.

Chong recalled that during the times of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, there was a lot of ‘hot air’ against corruption.

“At least there was some air. But this time there is no iota of air against corruption. I think he has resigned to the fact that corruption is a way of life,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sarawak BN leaders heaped praises on the Budget, describing it as people’s friendly and the government’s concern for all levels of society.

“While developing and transforming the economy of the country, the government is also helping to reduce the burden of the people,” said Social Development Minister William Mawan Ikom.

He said that the budget covers the basic needs of the rural society and is able to help improve their livelihood.

“No one is left in the announcement and the BN government has fulfilled its promises and realises what is needed by the people,” said Mawan, who is also the President of Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party.

Another Dayak leader James Masing, who is Parti Rakyat Sarawak President, said that the budget allocated to rural infrastructures is Najib’s clear understanding of the need of accessibility among rural population.

“No amount of goodwill can eradicate rural poverty if rural land remains inaccessible,” said Masing, who is Land Development Minister.

On allocation for education, he said: “Education budget is a budget of a developed nation, because it gives free education to Malaysians till form five.

“This budget recognises the value of educated manpower to move the nation forward,” he added.

Sunday, October 9

Kpg. Wawasan residents appeal to govt

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, Sarawak wish to appeal to the Sarawak State Government to exclude all the land which we have occupied and cultivated from the provisional lease issued to Mega Jutamas Sdn. Bhd,” said Edi Anak Ingah, Secretary of the Village Security and Development committee.

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.

Thursday, October 6

Radio Free Sarawak is back

KUCHING: Radio Free Sarawak is back this week with an expanded team and greater ambitions

The show kicks off with a two hour daily time slot from 6 – 8 pm on the Short Wave band 17560 kHz. It will also be available free online via the website

“As before, the station will continue to focus on the concerns and interests of the ordinary people of Sarawak, mainly rural folk, who currently have no access to an independent news source,” said Peter John, who called himself as ‘Papa Orang Utan’.

“However, it will also address urban and Malaysia-wide issues in recognition of its popular following among internet users and listeners from other states. Radio Free Sarawak will provide an alternative platform to the government-controlled broadcast and print media, which only exists to praise and promote the Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud, and neglects such issues as land-grabs, enfranchisement and corruption.

“The station will reach out and listen to the voices of the people of Sarawak and work on exposing the problems that have resulted in Malaysia’s richest state becoming home to many of its poorest people.

“Expect to hear voices also from the opposition parties, who achieved nearly half the votes at the state election (despite BN vote rigging), but who never get adequate recognition from the licenced media.

“And, of course there will be plenty of music and entertainment with the return of popular D Jays Papa Orang Utan (who will host the Sunday show), Kakak Burung Tiong, along with a new voice leading day time news coverage, Michael Ngau,” John said.

RFS was very actively before and during the state election in April and had become a household word in the rural areas with their very ‘spicy’ information on corruption, abuses of power and cronyism alleged carried out by the state government and its leaders.

It also carried out ‘live’ interviews with the government and opposition leaders, activists, NGO leaders as well as with the ordinary people.

Following its constant ‘attacks’ on the state BN leaders especially Taib, several reports have been lodged by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) against ‘Papa Orang Utan’.

Both Minister of Home Affairs Hishamuddin Tun Hussein and Deputy Minister of Information, Communication and culture Joseph Salang have promised to look into the complaints.

John said that after a lapse of about five months, RFS is back because of the coming general election, adding that it will expose corruption, abuse of power and cronyism without fear or favour.

Monday, October 3

SADIA to be deregistered?

KUCHING: The 28-year old Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA), one of the most effective non-governmental organisations, is facing deregistration following complaints by the Registrar of Societies for contravening the provisions of the Societies Act 1966.

In his show caused letter dated 23 August 2011, the registrar alleged SADIA of being involved in the Batang Ai by-election in 2008.

He also alleged that SADIA has contravened the Article VI clause 1 of the Societies Act and Regulations for not holding its triennial delegates conference. Its last meeting was held in 2006.

It has also failed to elect new office-bearers which should be held in 2009 as well as failing to submit its annual returns for the years 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

SADIA has been given until September 23 to reply to the show-caused letter.

SADIA President Sidi Munan told SADIA members that he had replied to the show-caused letter, and the association is still awaiting the outcome of the ROS’ decision.

Judging by the tone of the show-caused letter which was signed by Deputy Registrar of Societies Malaysia, Haji Fison bin Haji Yahaya, there is the likelihood that SADIA is in real danger of being deregistered.

ROS Kuching Ken Leben was not available for comment.

The authorities have been targeting the association for the past five years after it was actively involved in defending the rights of natives and the indigenous people especially when the native customary rights (NCR) lands were encroached upon by oil palm plantation and timber companies.

Almost all of these companies have connections one way or another with the powers that be in the state.

The authorities are also fearful of SADIA as it is an accredited member of Economic and Social Council of United Nations (ECOSOC), and a member of the Indigenous Peoples’ Network of Malaysia or Jaringan Orang Asal Se-Malaysia (JAOS), an umbrella of 21 community-based non-governmental organisations that have the indigenous peoples’ issues as the focus.

It is also a member of Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP), an organisation of indigenous peoples’ movement in Asia.

SADIA Secretary General Nicholas Mujah said that SADIA headquarters has been raided twice in the past two years, the latest was in June this year by officials from the Home Affairs Ministry, who have taken substantial amount of documents including court exhibits and affidavits.

Until now, SADIA staff members including Mujah have not been charged in court.

SADIA was registered in 1984 with the aim to promote the usage and the advancement of Iban Language, and its efforts which were supported by Iban officers in the Education Department resulted in Iban language being studied in Primary and secondary schools. Moves to study Iban in tertiary education are underway.

Its other objectives are to protect the Iban Adat, traditions and customs.

Lately it has been in the forefront in the protection of the native customary rights (NCR) land resulting in a number of its members being jailed for defending the NCR land.

And because of evidence given by SADIA officials, the majority of NCR land cases have been ruled in favour of the natives.

Ibans, Bidayuhs, Orang Ulu and even Malays have sought the advice and assistance from SADIA, which acts as their paralegal before the filing of any NCR claims against the government.

“I believe that SADIA’s involvement in defending the rights of the natives as far as NCR land is concerned is one of the real reasons why ROS is asked to cancel its registration.

“I believe that complaints come from some of the Iban leaders who are pro-BN,” said a senior member of SADIA who requested anonymity.