Friday, October 3, 2008

Ongoing Harassment and Abuse of Sarawak Natives

This is how the Politics of Development championed by Taib Mahmud and Sarawak Barisan Nasional Government works.

As reported in The Star Online:

Friday October 3, 2008
Eviction of 10,000 residents ‘put on hold’

MIRI: The 10,000 residents who have been evicted from their centruty-old villages in northern Sarawak have been given a reprieve for Hari Raya.

The Sept 29 deadline for the residents of the 13 Kedayan-Malay villages in Bekenu district came but there were no bulldozers in sight to demolish their homes.

They had been asked to move out of the land that had been leased out to a Miri property developer for an oil-palm plantation and had sought the help of Sibuti MP Ahmad Lai Bujang.

Ahmad told The Star yesterday that the villagers had been living on the edge, worrying when their homes would be bulldozed.

“Luckily, the Hari Raya proved to be a reprieve. I did not see any Land and Survey Department enforcement teams or workers from the private company attempting to demolish any houses.

“The eviction has been put on hold, it seems. However, I worry what will happen after the Hari Raya.

“The issue has generated a lot of publicity. The dispute is over a big area.

“The villagers have been living there for many generations and yet the company has staked a claim as the rightful owner.

“This is turning into a big dilemma because the developer’s lawyer has issued a letter saying that the villagers are illegal squatters,” he said.

The villages are located some 40km south of here, along the Sarawak Second Coastal Highway near the Miri-Bintulu divisional boundary.

On Sept 27, the desperate villagers staged a public demonstration along the highway to garner attention to their plight.

Asked whether the villagers would get an injunction against the eviction order, Ahmad said they were looking at all avenues.

“They are appealing to the Government first before resorting to any court action,” he said.

Ahmad said that the villagers have a strong claim to the land, as they had been living there continously since 1910 and have native land rights by virtue of their ancestral background.

The Kedayan-Malays are direct descendents of the Brunei Malay and migrated to Sarawak during the British colonial era.


Sunam Suwim said...

Simply put. the dayaks, the bidayuh is/are coughing the dust of development. The so-called politics of development only benefit the riches and the stupid and the penyangak and the greedy and those who thought they will never die and thought they cannot die.......

Anonymous said...

No eviction order to villagers in Bekenu
By Puvaneswary Devindran

Land and Survey Department never issued any eviction order

KUCHING: The Land and Survey Department has never issued any eviction order to 10,000 or so Kedayan-Malay villagers in Bekenu, Miri Division, refuting a recent report in a national daily.

In a faxed press statement yesterday, Land and Survey director Sudarsono Osman said copies of eviction letters sent to the department were issued by advocates of a company to eight individuals, warning them not to trespass on its land.

“They are not eviction orders from us as alleged,” he said, referring to Lot 3935 Lambir Land District and Lot 4448 Sibuti Land District.

He said seven of the letters were dated Sept 9, 2008 and one was dated Sept 15, 2008.

Judging by the names, three of the recipients are Chinese and four seem to be individuals from outside the Kedayan community.

He explained that lots 3935 and 4448 had been alienated and issued a provisional lease to a company on Feb 6, 2001 for the development of an oil palm plantation.

The total area is 1180 hectares and 550 hectares respectively.

Sudarsono pointed out that the land is at least two kilometres from the nearest village. In other words, there is no village within the provisional lease area.

The department’s records show that all land that might be subject to native customary rights (NCR) had been excluded from the provisional lease area.

Sudarsono recalled that on June 21, 2002 the Miri Division Superintendent of Land and Survey had a dialogue with several community leaders who represented the Kedayan-Malay villages.

“The outcome was that surveyors appointed by the company would be allowed to survey the perimeter and determine the locations of native customary land and burial grounds,” he said.

However, on March 22, 2003 three persons, namely Abu Bakar Pangis, Salim Ebrahim and Sapar Ismail filed a writ of summons in Miri High Court pertaining to Lot 3935.

They named Tung Cheong Sawmill Sdn Bhd, Superintendent of Land and Survey Miri Division, and the state government as defendants.

Therefore, said Sudarsono, since the matter was sub judice, the department was not able to proceed with the survey.

The hearing of the case has been scheduled for this coming Nov 19.

As for Lot 4448, he said officers from the Miri Land and Survey Department had inspected it twice. No cemetery was found within the area.

“However, I had directed my superintendent in Miri to call in the affected people soon to tackle the issues that they brought up.

“I emphasise here that there is no intention on the part of the government to evict the people from the 13 Kedayan-Malay villages as alleged,” he said.

He said resettlement of people was a very sensitive matter and any such programme would normally be handled by a state task force comprising ministers and the State Secretary.

To think or to imply that the ministers or the government was not aware of an eviction order involving 10,000 people was utterly ridiculous, he said.

He said initial investigation seemed to suggest that there were land speculators behind the whole issue and that the people had entered into illegal transactions and agreements with some so-called native customary land claimants to embark on plantation business.

“The department will not recognise such transactions and therefore advise the public not to be parties to them in order to avoid incurring losses,” he said.

On Sept 27, a group of people from 13 villages held a peaceful demonstration thinking that they were going to be evicted from their century-old settlement by a private developer.

They reportedly received a notice on Sept 15 from the company’s lawyers to leave within 14 days.

The affected villages are Kampung Beraya junction are Kampung Batu Satu, Butir, Kejapil, Keluru Tengah, Keluru Jaya, Subak, Sepurau, Selanyau, Opak, Tusan, Uban, Terahad and Beraya.

There are old burial grounds of Kedayan Muslims in the area and these are Kubur Islam Kejapil, Kubur Butir, Kubur Sungai Jalil, Uban and Kubur Sungai Payau.

The Kedayans settled in the area some time in 1910.

When asked to comment on the matter soon after the story was carried by the national daily, Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management Dato Sri Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said he was unaware that 10,000 people were going to be evicted.

“10,000 villages? Kedayan kampung given eviction notices? Well, honestly I don’t know. I have to find out,” he told reporters after handing out land titles to villagers at Singai near here recently.

He had no idea if the area in question had been earmarked for any development.

The villagers had also called on Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud to intervene in the matter.

So, when met at his Hari Raya open house three days ago, Taib said he was open to discussions and stressed that the best way to solve that kind of problem was to meet with him.