Stop intimidation against Orang Asli leaders, BMF says over Sarawak palm oil plantation

Indigenous communities holding up placards in protest of logging near the Mulu National Park

PETALING JAYA: Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) has called on the authorities to stop all intimidation against indigenous leaders following reports that an Orang Asli leader was threatened with arrest over protests against an oil palm plantation on native land in Mulu, Sarawak.

BMF cited community reports claiming that Special Branch officers had threatened to arrest Penan leader Ukau Lupong at a meeting between community leaders and local government officials on Feb 14.

Penan headman Ukau Lupong

It said Ukau was one of the organisers of a protest letter by 268 indigenous Penan and Berawan villagers to the authorities over the destruction of their forest land by a local oil palm company.

“Bateu Bungan is a Penan village located on the edge of the Unesco-protected Mulu National Park.

A plot of land being cleared to make way for oil palm development near the Mulu National Park in Sarawak.

“The planned oil palm plantation threatens the villagers’ livelihoods and is feared to cut off an important wildlife corridor near the Mulu National Park,” it said in a statement today, adding that the planned plantation would cover 4,400 hectares.

Urging the police to stop all intimidation against the Orang Asli communities, it also called on the Sarawak and federal governments to initiate “meaningful dialogue” with those affected by the Mulu oil palm encroachments.