Hornbill Unleashed

April 30, 2013

Let’s ‘Ubah’, urges wounded land rights defender

Keruah Usit

Video Link  “This is my message. We must all change, open our eyes now. Think about it. All of us have suffered. Our land, our world has been taken away, not just in Melikin, but everywhere, in Sibu, Kapit, Sri Aman, Batang Rajang, Baram.

“All of it has been taken by other people. 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 Sarawak.

Surik, 66, had his right forearm and both legs slashed with machetes by four men on March 15, as he waited for his wife and son outside Sekolah Sungai Menyan, Serian, located just over an hour’s drive from Kuching.

He also suffered a fractured forearm and broken knee caps, and lost more than a litre of blood.

Surik’s attackers remain at large, despite him having identified at least one of them to the police as an “executive” with an oil palm company.

The state government of Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud awarded two companies a provisional lease to 7,300 hectares of land in Melikin that 16 local Iban communities have claimed as their NCR land. The natives have sued the companies, United Teamtrade and Memaju Jaya, as well as the state government.


According to a well-placed source, the police claimed that Surik, after the savage attack, declined to sign his police report naming the suspect. His lawyers are trying to shore up Surik’s faith in the police, and are arranging for Surik to sign a new report.

A suppressed report on NCR land rights in Sarawak and Sabah by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), has been leaked to activist website Sarawak Report.

The document records “complaints on the use of thugs by companies, and biased police and Police Field Force personnel to threaten people. Community organisations and NGOs who assist communities with their claims or complaints are constantly harassed by Special Branch police”.

Surik broken, but unbowed

Surik sat up on his bed, both legs wrapped in casts and bandages. He was broken, but unwilling to bend. He had a kindly old man’s gaze and smile, but his tone was unyielding.

NONEHe urged Sarawak’s natives to stand up to defend their ancestral NCR lands, as guaranteed to them under the federal constitution, the State Land Code and the customary laws of the Dayak community.

“We have been pressured, squeezed out by our chief minister,” he toldMalaysiakini, waving his healing right forearm. “Our lands have all been sold to the big companies. Even if the company doesn’t work on it, it is already sold off to the company.”

He noted, bitterly, that neither his BN state assemblyperson Snowdan Lawan, nor any other BN representative, had visited him in hospital. “What is Snowdan good at? He’s good at playing his guitar.”

Surik added that the BN had made a difficult life even worse for the Melikin farmers. The Iban villagers turned to their elected BN representatives when their land was taken by the two oil palm companies.

However, thanks to the companies’ connections with members of Taib’s state cabinet, the authorities have also stepped in to harass the villagers instead.

“What did we get from the BN?” asked Surik’s wife, Rosni Langap, 53, a Kadazan woman from Sabah.

“Our farms were taken away by the BN, not just our NCR land. Even our rice paddies, oil palm, rubber trees, fruit orchards, were all completely destroyed, without (them) even talking to us.

“Even our longhouse was threatened. Is that a government we should support? Is that a government we should embrace for the rest of our lives?” Rosni asked

She ridiculed the BN’s promises over the half a centuryof its rule. “We have no electricity or (treated) water, up to today. We’d be drinking from a ditch, if all of us villagers hadn’t worked together to make a (gravity feed) for water supply from the mountain.

“What did BN provide us? They trespassed on our land. Our village head became rich, but the ordinary people suffered.”

Roads that are like ‘wild boar trails’

“Our roads are like jalan babi hutan (wild boar trails),” Surik frowned. “All of (the BN politicians) have not helped us.The BN government will not even notice me, if not for the opposition parties.

“These are the ones (PKR and DAP) we’re going to vote for (as) our government, our new government. We must fully support the opposition parties, because they’re good to the people.”

Surik said he had endured four surgeries on his body. His fractured bones had been set, and a flap of muscle from his leg had been fashioned to cover a gaping wound over his right knee.

He will have to really struggle to walk again, having spent more than a month in bed.

“My forearm that was broken, it feels better now, only that I am not able to grip properly with it. But I feel it has healed,” Surik said as he waved both arms in the air. “I don’t know when I can start working… I hope I can walk, but I don’t think I can work.


“So my wife will have to provide for me, if she can. If she can’t, then I don’t have anyone to take care of me…

Rosni (left) remained by her husband’s side throughout his hospitalisation.“My son is only seven years old, in Primary One. My other daughter, she has two of her own children. How can she provide for me when she has to take care of her own children?”

“Since my husband was admitted to hospital,we’ve had many difficulties. If not for assistance from DAP and PKR , we would have suffered more.

“I’m not saying BN (politicians) are evil… but they’ve never even showed their faces (in hospital). My message to people from Sarawak, from Sabah, is: please support PKR, DAP, to ease the people’s hardship,” Rosni said.

KERUAH USIT is a human rights activist – ‘anak Sarawak, bangsa Malaysia‘. This weekly column is an effort to provide a voice for marginalised Malaysians. Keruah Usit can be contacted at keruah_usit@yahoo.com



  1. We must make all corrupted ministers , past and present return their ill gotten wealth to the rakyat especially rural Sarawakians.

    Comment by Augustine William — May 3, 2013 @ 12:04 PM | Reply

  2. The Government of Malaysia owes Surik anak Muntai deserves the highest bravery award.

    Comment by anonymous — May 1, 2013 @ 7:40 PM | Reply

  3. I think these natives who continue to vote BN just do not understand how the system works.
    They think Oppositions are big bad wolf ( as portrayed daily on RTM, TV3, major local newspapers ) . Please tell these natives, it is time for BN to be Opposition for the next 5 years.

    Comment by rcc — May 1, 2013 @ 5:09 PM | Reply

  4. Despite all these , the natives continue to vote the Sarawak gov’t and it’s leaders. I am really beginning to think that the natives cannot claim ignorance anymore. I think they are just taking the easy way and choose to do nothing. Be brave like Sunik, you can’t be a coward all your life.
    No one decides your fate but yourself. Definitely not the government of the day.

    Comment by John — May 1, 2013 @ 4:17 PM | Reply

  5. We despised the educated Dayaks for working in cohoot with BN led by the thief minister Taib Mahmud to swindle and suppress the rural uneducated Dayaks.

    Comment by Paul Anding — May 1, 2013 @ 1:43 PM | Reply

  6. The main root cause of the Dayaks in Sarawak and the Kadazan/Dusun in Sabah was that they had been blindly casting their votes for BN in exchange for whatever little and slow development promised by BN. With more youths working outside of their community and beyond the state capital, with many working for offshore O& G corporations, these younger voters will definitely buck the trend by voting for change and hopefully their naive and ignorant older folks will follow suit.

    The youths must return home to vote if a two party system were to be a reality.The older folks must be informed of their rights over their NCR lands and voting for a preferred party is their democratic right. They must have access to alternative news such as Radio Free Sarawak, which over the last 2 years, had helped the rural folk to be politically awaken,.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — April 30, 2013 @ 11:34 PM | Reply

  7. The problem is, not every iban and dayak is like Surik, the warrior and defender of their NCR land. Most of them are cheap, being easily bought or bribed at a small price. A lot of them are cowards, a direct contrast to Surik and Rentap. If they don’t wake up till now, these people will be goners and end up slaves forever under BN!

    Comment by Sharpshooter — April 30, 2013 @ 11:15 PM | Reply

    • Yes, I agreed. Most Sarawakian are cowards and stupid for the past 50 years and that is why we are years behind Singapore, Korea, Taiwan. Many will still vote for BN.
      I just spoke to taxi driver in Kuching. He said ” look at the new shopping malls in Kuching, those are big progress”
      But 100% of those malls are linked to the Thief of Sarawak.

      Comment by rcc — May 1, 2013 @ 5:15 PM | Reply

  8. Spread the message to every corners of Sarawak. For how much longer do the Dayaks in rural Sarawak need to live in fear of thugs working for cronies of Bn who stole and encroached into their NCR land to chop down timber trees and open plantation.

    Comment by Robin Eddie — April 30, 2013 @ 5:08 PM | Reply

  9. BN will not give back your land … and if they continue to rule, more problems + more unhappiness + more anger + what not …

    Give PR a chance to rule for the next five years, and to resolve all the problems, failing which we can always vote them out.

    Comment by tigeryk — April 30, 2013 @ 3:34 PM | Reply

  10. Awang “Tanah” Hassan and James Masing must apologise to the Dayaks for belittling their intelligence. Both NCR thieve, serving under the thief minister, Taib Mahmud, had lied to the rural voters that Pakatan Rakyat would extinguish all NCR rights when it comes to power at Federal. It was the BN thief minister of Sarawak and his gang of thieves who had been grabbing NCR lands and reclassifying NCR land as state lands.

    Comment by Bidayuh Headmaster — April 30, 2013 @ 3:08 PM | Reply

    • The Sarawak Land code which extinguished the rights of several hundred thousand hectares of NCR land and reinterpreting NCR land as state land must be repealed.

      Comment by Awaken Dayak — May 1, 2013 @ 7:09 AM | Reply


    Comment by VINCENT AK PAUL — April 30, 2013 @ 2:26 PM | Reply

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