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Millions worth of logs, bulldozer torched

 | September 3, 2012

Natives in Danau Melikin in Sarawak are furious with the police for 'siding' with logging companies against their court-sanctioned NCR land rights.

SERIAN: Police are investigating a weekend fire which destroyed 400 logs and an excavator, collectively worth several million ringgit.

The logs and excavator, found in a log pond in Melikin in Serian district, belonged to United Teamtrade Sdn Bhd. At the time of writing, no one has been arrested.

The fire yesterday is alleged to have some connection to the dispute over the 7,300 hectares of land which the natives of Danau, Melikin, claim to be their native customary rights (NCR) land.

The logs were alleged to have been extracted from forests which are regarded by the natives as their “pulau galau” and “pemakai menua”.

The High Court of Borneo has declared that the NCR land includes pulau galau and pemakai menua.

The Land and Survey Department has issued a provisional lease (PL) to the company which, upon receiving the PL, has destroyed oil palms, fruit trees, rubber and other cash crops belonging to the people.

The company operations manager, Foo Fang Chen, told the villagers that it is the “rightful owner” of the land as it has the PL, and therefore has the right to chase the natives away from the land.

He told the landowners that they are “outsiders” and must vacate the land.

Angry landowners who said that they have been occupying the land for more than 100 years are fighting back.

Tuai Rumah (longhouse chief) Alex Libau, who was one of those detained for defending his rights over the land, said that the dispute is getting out of land as the police appear to be siding with the company.

“Whenever the company makes police reports, several of them have either been detained or their statements taken.

“I have made countless number of reports against the company encroaching into our land not only to the police, but also to our elected representatives, the Land and Survey Department and the district officer.

“So far, no action has been taken against the company. Instead, we the landowners have been arrested, harassed and threatened by the gangsters,” he said.

Court injunction

Unhappy with the way they are being treated, Libau said that he has lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Meanwhile, the natives have engaged the services of Messrs Baru Bian and Advocates to file a court injunction against the company.

The suit is expected to be filed on Sept 5 at the Kuching High Court.

Last month, five persons were arrested after a bridge built by the company was destroyed. This was believed to be in retaliation to the company imposing a toll for farmers who use the bridge.

The Melikin farmers who go to their gardens and farms at the end of the road need to pay RM5.00 for a motor cycle per entry, RM30 for a motor car and RM50 for a 4WD vehicle.

Last week, the newly completed bridge was destroyed again. Ten persons including four women were summoned to the police station to give stations.

According to Libau, the police have wanted to question at least 30 people over the destruction of the bridge.

Two days ago, the company was alleged to have destroyed a steel bridge in order to stop the longhouse folk from proceeding to the other side of the road.

The company ignored the police advice not to destroy the bridge as it was built by the government.

Yesterday’s fire in which the 400 logs and an excavator were destroyed was the latest incident.


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