The dispute over the 3,305 hectares of communal forests between the natives and a logging company has caught the attention of the Prime Minister’s Department.
The land, which the natives claim to be their native customary rights land, is situated between Sungai Sebangan and Sungai Sebuyau.
Three officers from the Ministry of Defence last week compiled “intelligence reports” on the dispute, which would be forwarded to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.
The dispute arose after the company extracted timber from their NCR land without their permission or paying any compensation.
It has now become a hot issue being exploited by the opposition for the coming state election.
What makes it “hot” is that Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s sister Raziah is allegedly involved as she is a non-executive director of quality concrete holdings, a public listed loging company largely owned by family members of Tiang Mong Sing and Tiang Ming Kok.
Even Taib himself is alleged to have benefited from the extraction of timber.
The Forest Department has issued a licence to Quality Concrete Holdings in May this year to log the trees despite protests from the natives and a reminder from the Land and Survey Department that it is NCR land.
‘Taib would make RM250 million’
Contacted today, Numpang Anak Suntai, the leader of about 500 villagers from six longhouses in the Sebangan/Sebuyau area confirmed the visit of the three officers from the Ministry of Defence.
“They were here on Oct 7 and talked to us. They also visited the camp and the extraction sites of the company.
“They told me the ministry is closely monitoring the dispute and their reports will be submitted to the Prime Minister Department,” he added.
Welcoming the visit of the officers, Numpang urged the federal government to do something as the livelihood of the natives is threatened.
The area, he said, is also surrounded by their rubber, pepper and orchard gardens and paddy fields as well as their source of drinking water.
He said that they have brought up their plight with the police, Land and Survey Department as well as the District and the Resident Offices.
“All their complaints have fallen on deaf ears. And our next step is to file a civil case against the company,” Numpang lamented.
Meanwhile, according to Sarawak Report, Taib allegedly stands to profit an estimated RM250 million from the timber extractions.