Hornbill Unleashed

December 29, 2013

Human rights protest march reaches the interiors of Sarawak

Filed under: Dams,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
Tags: , , ,

Anna Chidambar

Human Rights Day on Dec 10 this year has irrevocably changed the landscape for protests in Sarawak, with the Orang Ulu, Kenyah and Kayan communities joining the protesters in the state by conducting their own march in the interiors of Baram.

While the simultaneous rallies organised by the Gerakan Rakyat Sarawak Sabah (Grass) in Kuching, Sibu, Miri, Bintulu saw about 1,200 participants, the Baram villagers joined the protest march for the first time by conducting their own event in the interiors of Baram.

According to Borneo Resources Institute (Brimas) executive director Mark Bujang, the Orang Ulu, Kenyah and Kayan communities that are still manning the blockades in Baram marched to the villages where their headmen live to express their displeasure at some of them who were not listening to their views

It is estimated that about 40 villagers from the two blockades at the Baram Dam since Oct 23 – one opposite the river from Long Lama town and another at km15 logging road between Long Kesseh and Na’ah – took part in the recent march.

Mark, who is also Grass media liaison officer, explained: “Another reason for the march is that some of their headmen have gone on record in Kuching to say that the Baram villagers agree with the construction of the Baram dam but they have denied this and according to the Kenyah/Kayan “adat” (customs) you can sue a person if he lies.

“Thus, the protest was held to voice their disagreement with the statement by their headmen as well.

“The villagers first marched to Long Mekaba in Ulu Baram where Penghulu Jalong Tanyit lives, then went down to Long Silat where the new Temenggong, Ngau Lian, resides and held a peaceful demonstration in front of his house as well.

“Then they went to Long San where Penghulu Paul Kalang lives and later to Long Liam where Penghulu Ajeng Wan stays. Such protests against their local leaders have never happened before. Who would have thought that the rural natives have such courage now?

“They respect their village leaders and it is rare that they voice their opinions in public. However, things are changing now as people know their rights and are more confident of questioning their leaders,” Mark said.

It is believed that the natives were also unhappy with the way their headmen were chosen. Previously, the “tuai rumah”, “penghulu”, “temenggong” were picked with the consensus of the respective communities. Now, they are appointed by the government.

Local governance has become politicised and this is due to the influence of political parties. This has also caused conflict among the people living in the same village or longhouse as one group might not favour a certain headman.

Meanwhile, the land grab intensity is going on overdrive and a lot of people, even hard core supporters of the government, are now angry. There is growing dissatisfaction among the grassroots and they are feeling the pressure and fear of losing their land.

More and more NCR land suits are being filed in Sarawak courts with around 400 outstanding cases at the moment.


  1. Those Damned dams will make sure the future of taib and his cronies families are secured in abundant wealth and an un certain future for the displaced natives. We have seen it in Batang Ai and Sg. Asap, the Natives are still protesting in Murum and yet Taib is hell bent on creating more suffering and chaos among the natives. He surely has an evil vision!

    Comment by brian — December 31, 2013 @ 3:16 PM | Reply

  2. Sue all the Tuai Rumah and Penghulu who say’s they had the support Baram people! Apa sakap sakap saja….. Kasi saman terus….

    Comment by Rod — December 29, 2013 @ 11:46 PM | Reply

  3. Build dams to replace indigenous people from their ancestral land. Build dams to pretend to bring progress to Sarawakians. Who are these gods that govern us ? Is there no limit to their powers?

    Comment by kira commonsense — December 29, 2013 @ 8:58 PM | Reply

  4. Continue and galvanise the protest on December 31 at the paramount thief minister private residence and at Padang Merdeka. Taib Mahmud must go. Robbing of NCR land must stop. Displacing natives with unwanted dams must stop. Awarding contracts and projects to CMS group of companies and subsidiaries must stop. Alienating state land to Taib Mahmud’s family and cronies must stop. Protest. Protest. Protest.

    Comment by Mata Kuching — December 29, 2013 @ 5:10 PM | Reply

  5. Progress without consciousness would not destroy the environment but also the indigenous people way of life. Remember Santa and his team of reindeer are looking for a new place to live. The Arctic circle ice is melting and they cannot live in oil platforms which are poised to be common landmarks in the Arctic soon. Envisage how the same scenario that might happen to our indigenous people if their land are been flooded. Where to go ?

    Comment by kira commonsense — December 29, 2013 @ 2:01 PM | Reply

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