On the 2nd day a Temenggong of Lun Bawang met with James-the Chairman of the Action Committee on Lun Bawang’s land rights, and proposed that they accept some ex-gratia money from Petronas and file a suit against the State Government for declaring their ancestral land as state land. The offer was rejected out right as the residents had discussed it extensively and found that the law suit will span over 10-years, by which time even a favorable judgment can’t set time back!
James said that they had flown to KL to meet Petronas CEO-but didn’t meet him because Petronas consider it a state government matter. They left a memoradum before they returned. Then they met the Assistant Chief Secretary of Sarawak-whose answer was not any where near satisfactory. So their last option: blockade the road on their land to force the issue into the open!
Meanwhile the blockade continued-where 10 truckloads of foreign workers in blue uniform drove to the blockade and turned back. It started to rain towards noon time-luckily the small hut built yerdayday was effective to shield them from rain in the middle of a forest. Their luck went up after a member managed to shoot a wild boar-which made a good lunch for over 10 people who were left behind at that time. From the passer-bys response most of the neighbors of the blockaders are pretty sympathetic if not supportive. Only the SSGP workers were blocked -others are allowed to pass through the road block.
From John Labo the residents at the beginning of the road-nearer to town, were duely compensated-but those further down the road have not been. The blockade is located at 15km point out of Lawas, nearer to town compared to the last blockade at Long Rusina-located at 30km away.
There was also a blockade at the other end of the road to stop the contractor from sending in workers from the other end. Only a truckload or so were stopped there yesterday.
The significance of this blockade is in the fact that there has been an upsurge on activism to assert their land rights from the native residents in Sarawak’s interior-first the Sebangan residents, then the Sibu residents, and now the Lawas residents. There is also sign that the residents protesters are not afraid of being arrested -the lost of their ancestral land had caused them to see a bigger picture than merely personal survival from day-to-day. The imminence of the state elections is not lost on them-this is the time to make their voice heard to get results. Not after the state elections.
All these areas where there are land rights protests are currently under BN representatives both in state assembly and Parliament. This situation may change if nothing is done quickly to restore voters’ reliance on BN to deliver their services.