John Labo, member of the Lawas blockade against the Sabah Sarawak Gas Pipes Project, was called by police to `help in investigation’ this morning at around 10.45am, offered himself to be arrested if he had violated any law by organising the blockade.But his offer was refused by the police after half an hour of talk at the Lawas police station, much the same as what happened in Simunjan police station a week ago. In the latter event all the 200 residents admit their particiaption in the blockade and asked to be arrested along the 7 leaders who were. The police refused to put the entire villages under arrest-reflecting a trend of villagers’ increasing confidence in asserting their land rights and their awareness of the importance of the coming state elections.
The police said they only want to ensure that there would not be any physical conflict in the blockade against the SSGP project mostly foreign workers. The blockaders stopped pulling a string across the road and choosed to stand across the road to stop only workers trucked in by the contractor of Petronas on every morning. So far the workers just turn back when they are blocked by the residents.
Supporters of the blockade thought that John would have been arrested after he enter the police station. However he came out after half an hour, with his offer to be arrested rejected. In any case any arrest would have caused tension among the residents and land owners who feel their land rights violated by the laying of the gas pipeline by Petronas contractor, something which would cost the ruling party crucial support. By avoiding the arrest the police also avoided the alarmed Lun Bawangs descending onto the Lawas police station by the thousands!
In the last blockade in Long Rusina, another 15 km away from town, there was no police arrests. The blockade then was targeting Samling, the logging company which contracted to transport the gas pipes into the area. The 2 sides settled soon after the blockade started.