A group of villagers have accused the Sarawak forestry department of blatant disregard of their native customary rights (NCR) over their communal forests.
Activists Nicholas Mujah and Numpang Anan Suntai who are helming the group said the department was refusing to suspend the license issued to logging company, Quality Concrete Holding to stop harvesting of timber in their ‘pulau galau’ (communal forest).
“The department has been informed by the land and survey department through a letter that the area is confirmed to be native customary rights land.
“Yet the department does not want to take action against Quality Concrete Holdings, which continues to log trees in the communal forest,” said Mujah, who is the secretary general of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) in a letter of complaint to Suhakam.
“The logging activities have destroyed a large number of our rubber and fruit trees and cash crops,” he said, pointing out that such activities will also disturb their shrines, graveyards and their sources of incomes.
He added that the the logging activities was also polluting the people’s source of drinking water as well as disturbing the habitat of some of the protected animals such as the proboscis monkeys, orang utan, hornbills, deer and peacock.
The area is also the home of some of the rarest species of timber such as belian (iron wood) and selangan batu which fetches up to RM4,000 a tonne.
Five longhouses namely Kampung Entangor, Kg Sungai Ijok, Kg Arus, Kg Tungkah Dayak and Kg Ensika are directly affected by the logging activities.
“All these are clear violations of the rights of the villagers and environmental hazards,” he said, calling on Suhakam to carry out an immediate investigation into the violation of human rights by the forest department and the company.
Longhouse chiefs getting ‘kickbacks’
Meanwhile, Sadia has also received complaints that certain Penghulu and longhouse chiefs had allegedly received ‘kickbacks’ from the company for their cooperation.
His group, he said, would lodge a report with the MACC over the ‘kickbacks’ as well as against the forest department for refusing to suspend the licence it issued to the company.
The trouble between Quality Concrete Holdings and the natives began in April this year when the company received a licence from the forest department.
It allowed them to log timber in 3,305 ha of communal forests in Bukit Salbu, Bukit Birut, Bukit Bederi, Bukit Bekutu, Bukit Ijok and Bukit Sandong.
Despite their protests and blockades, the company and the forest department continue to bulldoze their way to the communal forest.
The licence is expected to expire by the end of the year. – FMT