15 Iban longhouse communities taking the action at The High Court in Kuching was today granted an interim injunction against Quality Concrete Holdings Berhad, a logging company substantially owned by Sarawak Chief Minister’s sister Roziah Mahmud and Loyal Billion Sdn Bhd the logging contractor, restraining them from continuing logging and land clearing works and any other related activities within the area 15 Iban longhouse communities are claiming native customary rights (NCR).
In November 2009, Quality Concrete was issued with a Licence To Take Jungle Produce from the Sarawak Forest Department to extract timber from an area measured approximately 5,525 hectares of which the local native Iban communities claim to be their NCR land.
When the controversial company and its contractor Loyal Billion commenced logging operation in June 2010, it faced strong resistance from the local native communities who lodged police reports and sent numerous letters to relevant authorities in their attempt to halt the logging operation. Frustrated with the inaction of the local district office and the forest department, the natives set up barricades on the company’s logging roads in last October.
The stand-off came to light when company directors of Loyal Billion held a press conference in Sibu alleging that their logging camp which was 4 km away from the native blockade site was torched on October 18.
The police stepped in and arrested activists Nicholas Mujah and Numpang Anak Suntai together with 5 longhouse chiefs. The 7 were detained for 3 days and later released on police bail.
In November 2010, Numpang Anak Suntai and 290 other representatives of the Iban communities filed a suit against Quality Concrete Holdings Berhad, Loyal Billion Sdn Bhd, the Sarawak Forest Director and 3 others, seeking declaration for their native customary rights and accused the logging companies of trespassing and encroaching into their native customary land.
Barely 2 weeks after filing the civil suit, Numpang Anak Suntai was charged in the Serian magistrate’s court with criminal intimidation.
In his affidavit filed in support of the application for an interim injunction, Numpang exhibited photographs of the timber logging activities carried out despite the expiry of the logging licence. The photographs were said to be taken in the presence of police officers from the Simunjan police station.
Having heard submission by See Chee How of Baru Bian Advocates and Solicitors this morning, the Judicial Commissioner Rhodzariah Bt Bujang granted the interim injunction and scheduled the application for inter parte hearing on February 9.