This is a statement from Brimas about the arrest:
18 February 2011
BORNEO RESOURCES INSTITUTE MALAYSIA
BLD hired armed gangsters to intimidate Rumah Ranggong residents
ULU NIAH – About 100 armed gangsters in two buses purportedly hired by an oil palm company, BLD Resources, went into the outskirts of Rumah Ranggong native customary land boundary and set up camp there yesterday morning in an attempt to intimidate the longhouse residents.
The gangsters were said to have come from Sibu to purposely intimidate the longhouse residents to submit to the company and to end their blockade which has been set-up more than a month ago to protest against Niamas Istimewa Sdn. Bhd., a joint venture (JV) company between BLD Resources and the Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) which have renegade on their promise to develop the natives’ native customary rights (NCR) lands under the Konsep Baru scheme.
According to Ramould Siew, President of the Sarawak Native Customary Land Rights Network (TAHABAS) who went to Rumah Ranggong yesterday, the gangsters drove up in two buses at around 7 am and made camp just outside of the Rumah Ranggong NCR land boundary.
Fearing for their safety, some of the longhouse residents together with Siew went to Batu Niah Police Station to lodge a police report.
The police later went to the camp and arrested the leader of the gangster and told the others to leave.
The police confiscated a few boxes of parangs (machetes) and some explosives. It was not known if the gangsters were armed with firearms.
According to Siew, some people with the group of gangsters were Ibans recruited by the company for RM100 and were told that they were to guard the plantation area. They did not realised until when they arrived at the camp that their gang leader told them that they were going for a fight with the Rumah Ranggong longhouse residents.
Realising this, some of the Ibans in the group wanted to leave the group but were threatened with harm by their gang leader.
“The company is employing dirty tactics to scare the longhouse residents to end their blockade and protest,” said Siew.
“The police should take action against BLD, and if any of the longhouse residents are harmed by the high handed actions of this company, we will hold BLD as being responsible,” added Siew.
BRIMAS condemns the act of BLD or any other company or agency that employs gangsters to intimidate the natives of Sarawak that are asserting their legitimate right to their native customary land. BLD should immediately withdraw their personnel or agents in the area and to respect the rights and demands of the natives. We do not want another violent incident to happen as what had happen also in Ulu Niah at Rumah Busang and Rumah Bali in 1999.
In 1999, four gangsters who were purportedly hired by another oil palm company, Sarawak Oil Palm Plantations Berhad (SOPB) were killed in a clash with the two longhouse residents from Rumah Bali and Rumah Busang, just upriver from the present longhouses of Rumah Ranggong and Rumah Belilie.
Executive Director, BRIMAS