Hornbill Unleashed

March 18, 2013

Iban furious at attack on land rights defender

Keruah Usit

An elderly Iban man fighting for land rights in Melikin, Sarawak, Surik anak Muntai, was viciously attacked on March 15 by four or five men armed with sticks and parang, while he waited outside Sekolah Sungai Menyan, Serian, to pick up his son from school.

Surik, 66, has identified one of the assailants as an administration “executive” of an oil palm plantation company embroiled in a court battle over the Melikin villagers’ native customary rights (NCR) claim to land.

The plantation “executive”, 57, has now been remanded, while the other suspects are being hunted by the police.

According to Surik’s wife, Rosni Langap (top photo), Surik suffered splintered fractures of his right wrist, and a deep gash on his right forearm, when he tried to ward off machete blows from the thugs. Both his kneecaps were broken by clubs.

He also endured a contaminated ankle wound. Surgeons operated on him for four and a half hours, and he remains weak but stable in hospital.

Violent intimidation tactics

Surik is a farmer from Kampung Danau Kerangas, some two hours by road from the capital Kuching. Over 300 of his fellow Iban have filed a lawsuit against plantation company United Teamtrade and its partner Memaju Jaya.

These firms have met with local resistance in their efforts to take over 7,300 hectares of the villagers’ traditional NCR land, using a “provisional lease” issued by Sarawak chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Whistleblower website Sarawak Report has documented that two powerful Sarawakian politicians are behind the company.

The natives have complained of being victimised over their rejection of the companies’ offer of RM300 compensation per hectare, a pittance compared with the millions to be potentially made.

The villagers claim the authorities have attempted to intimidate them. Last October, five villagers were held on charges of criminal intimidation of United Teamtrade employees.

Last year, the authorities also tried to charge villagers with the torching of a company bridge. In both cases, the villagers were discharged from court, and were greeted by hundreds of villagers outside the courthouse, demonstrating their support.

The villagers had told Sarawak Report that the companies had used thuggish intimidation tactics, including brandishing a samurai sword at an Iban longhouse, and boasting of owning a pistol.

On September 1, the villagers watched in dismay as a company bulldozer destroyed a community bridge, in a form of collective punishment against the villagers.

According to the Borneo Post, a local daily, the village head of Kampung Engsebang, Patricia Pantau, said “they (plantation companies) demolished the bridge built by the government.

As a result of that, we lodged several reports at Serian Police Station together with all the evidence but there was no action taken by the police. That’s why the villagers are very unhappy.”

“Consistent pattern” of attacks

Last July, Michael Luang, a leading Melikin NCR activist, had his four-wheel-drive- vehiclce destroyed by arson. In a similar attack last November, the villagers’ lawyer, Batu Lintang PKR state assemblyperson See Chee How, also came under threat.

Molotov cocktail was flung into the lawyer’s driveway, scorching his car.

No arrests have been made following either attack.

NONESee (left) has written to the inspector general of police and the state police chief to point out the “consistent pattern” of the modus operandi of the attacks, the hate mail sent to his office, and the latest brutal assault on Surik.

See described the brutal attack on Surik as “cold-blooded madness”.

“I must commend the police in Serian for their swift action in arresting one of the assailants,” he told Malaysiakini. “I appeal for calm among the villagers, and at the same time, I pray that the police will be vigilant and bring the assailants quickly to justice.”

He said this was the first NCR case he had come across where a senior “executive” of a plantation company was allegedly involved in a brutal attack on an elderly native villager. See said the state government must immediatelysuspend the provisional leases.

He urged the police to register and examine the records of all those claiming to work as “security officers” for the plantation companies.

See pointed out that villagers had reported that the companies’ “security officers” had behaved like gangsters, and the detained plantation ‘executive” was “often giving commands, in the thick of the action”.

News of Surik’s ordeal has spread rapidly by social media, stirring anger at the state government’s contempt for native communities’ land rights.

In 1999, gangsters working for an oil palm plantation from Miri threatened and abused Iban villagers defending their NCR land at Rumah Bali and Rumah Busang, near Bintulu.

The Iban retaliated by killing four of the thugs. The villagers and lawyers in Melikin will have to keep the villagers’ tempers in check to ensure there is no further violence.

The Iban with access to social media have expressed fury at the assault on Surik.

But no-one expects this assault to spark protests in Sarawak, in the way that Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation and death launched the Arab Spring.

Still, this scandal could not have come at a worse time for Taib and his BN ruling coalition. Taib now faces further rural dissatisfaction, with crucial parliamentary elections looming.



  1. […] It’s because of this that we, the people, suffer,” said Surik anak Muntai, an elderly defender of native customary rights (NCR) to land in […]

    Pingback by Let’s ‘Ubah’, urges wounded land rights defender | Hornbill Unleashed — April 30, 2013 @ 1:58 PM | Reply

  2. Gangsters are united, as they are not daring to fight one-by-one, they fight with many over one, claiming to be brave with all the tatoos on their bodies. Police are united in covering one another corrupted and criminal acts, money collecting, allowing smuggling at borders, allowing gambling and gangstering every where, so police and gangsters are united, hand-shaked. How about Dayaks? United? No way brothers, have to wait till all collapse and lost. Longhouses split and Tuai Rumah only becoming dogs and participants of BN robbers

    No Dayaks = No BN, this is very true and will be true till next century. Before Cina makan Lakia, now Cina+Lakia makan Lakia. Inilah nasib Lakia

    Comment by Anak Bumi Kenyalang — March 19, 2013 @ 12:28 AM | Reply

    • There are some truths in what you said. The gangsters do make uase of their power and money to pit the Lakia against Lakia. Some Lakia politicians ask favours from these gangsters and these politicians more often then not end up becoming slaves to these gangsters, tools to gain favours and protection from the law for their illegal businesses.

      Its a fact that sordid acts like this one are mostly done by the chinese who think that they can do anything and get away with it. And its a fact also that they are so emboldened because they backed up by their strong political connections and their connections with some willing colloborators in the police force.

      Whether the Lakia like it or not, they can be bought cheaply, their land are cheap as cheap as their lives they lay down to protect those cheap NCR lands. The politicians and their chinese gansgter friends are just exploiting that fact@!

      Lakia united..NO! Lakia + Gangster united..Yes! And do we know why?…so far no LAKIA Political Leaders, ministers and lover to CM has come out condemning this despicable act against a fellow Lakia!

      Infact what they should do is to organise protest and rallys, invite all Lakia come out into the streets, show that they are united against crimes committted unashamely against another Lakia. But then again, they love the gangsters more then they love their own Lakia brohter!

      Comment by brian — March 19, 2013 @ 11:23 AM | Reply

      • “mostly done by the chinese who think that”

        Please refrain from making racists remarks abut another race.

        Just because they are chinese, are they automatically branded gangsters? There are also malay, dayak, indian gangsters too out there. This is what Bn has successfully done, steretyping a particular race for their own benefit.

        So taib mahmud is a melanau, does it mean that all melanaus are the same? Jabu is an iban, does it mean that all Ibans are the same as him? Michael manyin is a bidayuh, does it mean that all bidayuh are fervent bn supporters?

        The gangsters are united because they know that they are useless when they operate alone. The gansters know that they can intimidate the villagers because most of us dayaks are docile people. Give the dayaks rm15, a bottle of liquor or a cup of tea, and they will be beholden to you.

        Not only that, the dayaks are still confined to crab-mentality. Dayaks are willing to fight another dayak to the death, so to speak, but will cower in fear and terror when it comes to gangsters.

        Comment by kenyalang — May 1, 2013 @ 8:13 AM | Reply

  3. The politicians hiding behind these thugs and criminals should not blame the LAKIA, as the chinese likes called the natives, if the LAKIA resort to violence to counter these heinous crime perpetrated by their rogue chinese lackeys in their greed to gain more wealth.

    Those who are entrusted to protect the people from these rascals must not sweep this one under the carpet like in the case to the father and son who were battered by the same kind of people who were never punished.

    These kind of crime is simply not acceptable.That poor farmer was just trying to protect and hold on to what little piece of Sarawak land he has left and he almost lost his life in the process. He probably a cripple for life now.Thats a terrible way to live for him and his family.

    Perhaps knee-capping for a knee-capping should be meted out as an aceptable way to punish those who did this despicable acts.

    Comment by brian — March 18, 2013 @ 5:20 PM | Reply

    • Dayaks and opposition candidates and supporters must not submit themselves to BN’s intimidation and threats. Nobody or government shall deprive the Dayaks of their NCR land or displace them in return for KFC chickens.

      Comment by Abang Nyalau — March 18, 2013 @ 10:11 PM | Reply

  4. PAKATAN RAKYAT is now turning towards the road to Putrajaya
    Sarawakians will have to wait a while before PAKATAN RAKYAT march to Petrajaya
    NCR land grabbers in Sarawak were licenced by Tahik Manuk
    They are worst than the Sulus’ intrusion in Lahad Datu
    Once Putra and Petra Jaya are taken over
    NCR land grabbers and the cronies’ gangsters will be eliminated for good
    Sarawakians must start by voting for Pakatan Rakyat in
    The coming 13th General Election.

    Comment by Ayen Piyat Tawai — March 18, 2013 @ 4:26 PM | Reply

  5. No problem with the gang leader, well sleeping and protected in police station, enjoying coffee susu, pork noodle may be, as long as there is an arahan dari atasan, all will be well managed

    So who the Iban will hope on to help them voice justice and rights? Surely the BN MPs and YBs and Ministers whom they have voted and the BN government that they should never go against regardless of right or wrong. UNDI LAH BARISAN NASIONAL

    Police have no pwerlah, my friends. This is the system of Malaysia Government now, just take it and swallow

    Comment by Anak Bumi Kenyalang — March 18, 2013 @ 3:20 PM | Reply

  6. Comment by DYAK — March 18, 2013 @ 1:29 PM | Reply

  7. Comment by DYAK — March 18, 2013 @ 1:29 PM | Reply

  8. “Both his kneecaps were broken by clubs”

    mean the poor guy Surik will suffer for the rest of his life…. these assailants knows what they are doing by breaking/damaging the knee cap! Mr Surik can never walk properly as before….and every move he makes, he be in pain!

    Comment by HH3H — March 18, 2013 @ 12:51 PM | Reply

    • It’s called “knee-capping”- once a popular form of punishments reserved for traitors and informants to the independence cause in Ireland.

      per wikipedia
      “Kneecapping is a form of malicious wounding, often as criminal punishment or torture, in which the victim is injured in the knee, often using a firearm or power drill to damage the knee joint and kneecap.

      This practice was common among paramilitaries in Italy and Northern Ireland and has been reported from Gaza.[3] Contrary to popular belief, the patella (knee cap) is usually not injured in these incidents; rather damage to soft tissues that include nerves and arteries is the primary target.”

      May be the assailant should get the same treatment or he can pay compensation to the victim for the rest of his life!

      Comment by INFOMAN — March 18, 2013 @ 1:38 PM | Reply

      • we in Bodohland also having Traitors, what can we Bodohland citizens do to them ???

        Comment by nainai — March 18, 2013 @ 8:42 PM | Reply


    Comment by NODDY — March 18, 2013 @ 9:09 AM | Reply

    • talk is cheap LOL, some one intends to shaft his middle finger in my ASS,after GE13, he can easily shaft it into his OWN Ass, no need help from saiFOOL.

      Comment by nainai — March 18, 2013 @ 8:44 PM | Reply


    Comment by VINCENT AK PAUL — March 18, 2013 @ 8:01 AM | Reply

    • Vince….bet you the comes the GE13…the Iban majority will vote for BN! These same people from Melikin be voting for BN too….. I bet with 5 cent!

      Comment by HH3H — March 18, 2013 @ 12:54 PM | Reply

      • HH3H, as someone once told me “we dayaks are happy people, you know”

        Of course, you may have heard of this “tidak apa” attitude or “why do we need to bother what happens in melikin, as long as it does not happen here.”

        HH3h, no need to bet with 5 cents, 1 cent is enough. I’m a dayak myself and I know how loyal the dayaks are to Bn. Anang ngelaban perintah and jangan lawan towkey, anyone?

        I’ve even heard some dayaks who are so hell bent to go to LD and fight sultan sulu and his armies. Why look so far, sultan taib mahmud is here and he is an even deadlier threat and destruction!

        Comment by DYAK — March 18, 2013 @ 1:24 PM | Reply

        • Yes Dayaks brothers we must all unite regardless of race or religion for freedom from oppression and plunder and for a free Sarawak!

          Comment by SARAWAKIANS — March 18, 2013 @ 8:33 PM | Reply

          • There no “unite” in Dayaks vocab!
            Before we have PBDS and SNAP as a platform for Dayaks…because of their greed we have PERMAS, STAR, SPDP and PRS……you name it!

            Comment by HH2H — March 18, 2013 @ 11:02 PM

      • Spot on, this is what i called it NATO, CKLPS, sendiri cakap sendiri SHIOK lah buddy.

        Comment by nainai — March 18, 2013 @ 8:46 PM | Reply

  11. THE WAR IS ON……

    Comment by Anon — March 18, 2013 @ 7:32 AM | Reply

    • What war?
      The assailant(s) are still scot free…..having cha kue tiaw every day!

      Comment by HH3H — March 18, 2013 @ 12:56 PM | Reply

      • Yeah- no war.

        The Dayaks are not up in arms against their oppressors because they resist by lying down and let the enemy of the people ride rough-shod over them…

        Rentap weeps in heaven to see his warriors like this!

        Yes many Dayaks help to fight communists and keep UMNO in power over us all and in turn they let us get oppressed left, right and centre. How wonderful for Dayaks!

        And it is always the same few Dayaks who express themselves on these pages.. where is the rest of them?

        Comment by ORANG2BANGKIT — March 18, 2013 @ 8:37 PM | Reply

      • in this case,what can we BODOH citizens do? in Bodohland ?

        Comment by nainai — March 18, 2013 @ 8:47 PM | Reply

        • shaft their middle finger deep in the own ass hole and sit on it!

          Comment by Rod — March 19, 2013 @ 11:13 PM | Reply

  12. The issue of thugs attacking NCR land right activists cannot be ignored by Dayaks throughout Sarawak although many do not have land issues. This is not a racial issue but business cronies of BN attacking NCR land owners who wanted to take back their land which were given away by a corrupted government. The Dayaks must protest in the strongest term and demand justice. Dayaks cannot be deceived and be happy with a few hundred ringgit handout before an election but must demand equal treatment and the right to rural development, better medical , educational and other facilities.

    Comment by Sabrina Abdullah — March 18, 2013 @ 6:43 AM | Reply

    • Christian churches must take the moral lead to seek justice for anyone who fell victims of thugs employed by plantation or logging companies which had encroached into NCR lands. Let us also pray for our police and army to remain apolitical and not to be influenced by UMNO’s money politics.

      Comment by Sabestian Jacob — March 18, 2013 @ 1:28 PM | Reply

      • recalled a BIGshot, who accompanied Ajib-koh visiting Vantican, now he is singing silence is GOLDEN, what is the price of an aunce = +-84Ograms??? of GOLD now, i mean 999.99 ?

        Comment by nainai — March 18, 2013 @ 8:49 PM | Reply

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