Rumah Ranggon of Niah area has successfully withstand 2 attempts by the oil palm companies who tried to scare them into submission by the sending of hundreds of gangsters to the long house recently. Such resolute will of the villagers did not come over night-the villagers had staged a protest right in front of the Kuching High Court last year at a court hearing! Such courage to assert their civil liberties is still rare in Sarawak-but it is upon such courage that oppressed Sarawakians will need to take inspiration to strike at the politicians who conspire against their lands. If the protest come after the elections the effort will be much less effective. So: if not now , when? Only before elections that the politicians will lend an ear to the residents’ problems.
Most of the 230+ land cases in Sarawak thus far has not brought about similar protests every where because the villagers still hope that the courts will deliver justice to them. However the relatively few victories recently (not final yet-appeals are coming soon!) shows that settlements will come slowly-often too slowly for many of the litigants to stay alive to the end! And the court cases which are dragged too long helped to scatter the residents who otherwise could unite to present a stronger challenge to the land grabbing developers and politicians! Rural residents whose lands are robbed are thus deprived of public support when they are held back from bringing their cases to the public and media.
Until more residents are made aware of the power of openly asserting their rights Rumah Ranggong will continue to lead the way as an inspiration to others who still claim to be scared to speak out openly in the public about their grievances. The claim that protests are not Sarawak’s culture will continue its hegemony in Sarawak. Until change happen the incumbent politicians will afford to smile widely on the stage and in the logger-run mainstream media!