Hornbill Unleashed

August 14, 2014

Singai Bidayuh civilisation faces wipe-out threat

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:00 AM
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Dukau Papau

Some 16,800 people of Singai Bidayuh origin are worried that the bedrock of their heritage and civilisation as well as their livelihood embedded in some 3,000 acres of forest around Mount Blassan are now under a serious threat of being wiped out by a crony company.

Twelve village chiefs representing the people have lodged a police report and have written to Chief Minister Adenan Satem to stop the company from clearing their forest for an oil palm plantation.

So far officers from the Forest Department and Land and Survey Department have visited the area following their complaint.

Other than that, no further news has been forthcoming, said Penghulu Jidokson Raway.

In the meantime, the village chiefs have discussed further action including seeking a legal suit to defend the forest, Jidokson said.

The forest is part of 11,000 acres of the land that is within a provisional lease given to Teras Sdn Bhd, which is said to be linked to a amily member of a former PBB leader.

Site also a key water catchment area

The affected area, encompassing Sungai Selalang and Sungai Mutud to Sungai Kayan Putih and Sungai Kayan Merah, is claimed by the Singai Bidayuh community as their ancestral land containing cultural and heritage sites, including fruit orchards and graveyards.

It is also an important water catchment area and green lung.

This is the third mountain in the Bidayuh area is the target of crony companies, for the planting of oil palm, quarry operations or for logging activities.

The first was Mount Sadong in the Serian District where a timber company was given a licence to extract timber. However, this licence had been withdrawn after an outcry from the Sadong-Bukar Bidayuh people.

The second was Mount Serumbu, Bau, where a quarry licence was given to a company owned by a leader of PBB. The works on the mountain have been temporarily suspended.

Speaking on behalf of the village chiefs, Jidokson said: “The forest around Mount Blassan is not only preserved by the Bidayuh, just like the Iban’s ‘pemakai menua’.

Place where Bidayuh forage for food as well

This is where we forage for food, timber and rotan for domestic use as well as a source of clean water for the residents of the 12 villages. This site is our heritage, our civilisation and a sacred place for all of us.

“The place is our life and has full of history. One of the most important events here was a battle during which our ancestors shed blood in defending the forest and the mountain.

“This episode, which was well before the arrival of James Brooke, the White Rajah of Sarawak, and is still remembered by us.

“Since then, the forest has become part of our life, our civilisation and part of our native customary rights land. Therefore, we are not only shocked, but angry by the apparent disregard for our ancestral homeland.

“They are taking away the timber first before they plant oil palm,” Jidokson said, pointing out that the crony company Teras has started the felling and clearing of timber in February this year.

He said the logging activities and plantation establishment have cause much of Sungai Selalang, Mutud and Tawak to be polluted and thewater catchment areas rendered useless due to heavy siltation and pollution.

The Singai community has preserved and conserved the resources in the area in a pristine state for future generations. Gunung Kayan, which is situated within the same vicinity, is a communal forest reserve and now forms part of the Sampadi National Park.

“In fact, this is the only land left in reserve by the Singai community. Any logging activity and large-scale commercial development in it would have adverse effects on the entire landscape of the area.

“Some 16,844 Singai villagers will have their livelihood ruined,” Jidokson added, urging the authorities to stop the company from destroying their NCR land.



  1. The Government should stop completely giving land for plantation. Instead think do alot of strategic thinking to boost the economy of Sarawak from other sources. For more than 50 years we don’t have a strong team of strategic thinkers or a powerful and well know think tank. What we have is only a medicore civil service oriented planner which bring us to no where.
    There are alot of countries who don’t depend on plantation and yet their economy fair better than us.
    Actually, the party than request for land aleniation are middleman cohood with the bad apples in the authority for a quick bucks. They then will sell the land to planters for a profit. We are already in the 20th century and this practices should stop. This is the machinery that distroyed the economy and make our people lazy.
    Indonesia is now going through a phase of revolusi mental under the new president Jokowi. They motto now and is spreading throughout the nation is ” Buatan Indonesia , Beli Indonesia” if these is successful they will become a giant economy in this region. I will not be suprise that if we are not careful and take positive step from now on our generation will be a beggar and work as amah and manual labour in this rich and succesful nation.

    Comment by Ali bin Abu — August 15, 2014 @ 8:19 AM | Reply

  2. How true. No point whining about it if you are not prepared to do something concrete about it yourselves. The BN ADUNs are taking you fellas for fools…give you a couple of hundred ringgit during election, you give them your precious votes and they come back later to rob you. If you do that again in next year’s election, then I will agree with the BN ADUNs that you are indeed FOOLS!

    Comment by JIM — August 14, 2014 @ 9:46 PM | Reply

  3. Most of us Dayaks do not understand the connection between our votes and the PL or timber licence given to the big companies.

    Comment by telang usan — August 14, 2014 @ 9:34 PM | Reply

    • You give them the votes means you are giving them the authority to lord over you in all living and non living things that can bring them wealth and that includes your forest, rivers ana even your ancesters final resting place. The proposed damned baram dam is a testament to that.

      Comment by brian — August 14, 2014 @ 11:27 PM | Reply

  4. But the singai bidayuh will still remain loyal to bn even after all these.There’s no use complaining and whining only.

    Comment by brian — August 14, 2014 @ 4:06 PM | Reply

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