Taib’s policy to give Provisional Leases in settled NCR lands cause clashes all over Sarawak’s interior! It is not unexpected that the clashes would 1 day get physical-bloodily physical! Actually this had happened before-in 1999! The Taib regime should do well to remember the case in the light of the Tebedu case where machineries were burnt:
4 killed and 3 injured in Ulu Niah Tragedy
1999-09-03 | Yesterday, 1st September, 1999, at about 3.00 p.m. a violent clash between Iban natives from two longhouse communities, namely, Rumah Busang and Rumah Bali in the Miri Division, Sarawak and workers of a contractor company, ie, a contractor to Sarawak Oil Palm (SOP) Berhad resulted in four workers of the contractor company being killed and three others injured.
Yesterday, 1st September, 1999, at about 3.00 p.m. a violent clash between Iban natives from two longhouse communities, namely, Rumah Busang and Rumah Bali in the Miri Division, Sarawak and workers of a contractor company, ie, a contractor to Sarawak Oil Palm (SOP) Berhad resulted in four workers of the contractor company being killed and three others injured.
SOP is a Sarawak government own company involving in oil palm plantation development in various parts of Sarawak.
According to the Ibans, the Sarawak government had issued a provisional lease to SOP over the land cultivated and occupied by them. SOP then engaged the contractor company to clear the said land.
The Ibans protested against the clearance of the said land as it would completely destroy their crops such as pepper, fruit trees, rice farms and other trees thereon on which they solely depended on for their livelihood.
When the company ignored their protests, they sent letters of appeals to all the authorities concerned. The Ibans also sent their representatives to Kuching, the State’s capital desperately wanting to meet and appeal to the Ministers including the Chief Minister, Taib Mahmud over their plight. However, none of the Ministers would meet them nor responded to their appeal letters.
The Ibans also met with the police several times on their problems with the company but also without success.
The contractor company kept bulldozing their land and crops thereon. After being faced with continued protests from the Ibans, the company brought several gangsters armed with weapons such as the Japanese sword, Samurai, knives and steel bars who repeatedly tried to threatened them.
Several reports were then made by the Ibans to the police at Batu Niah Police Station on the threats by the gangsters against them. However, according to them all these reports were not acted on by the police.
On 1st September 1999, the Ibans discovered that workers of the company accompanied by the same group of gangsters were bulldozing their land and gardens near Rumah Bali. They asked the work to stop immediately but their appeal was not only ignored, the gangsters all in a sudden also attacked the Ibans with their weapons.
The Ibans had no choice but to defend themselves in the attack which ended in the four gangsters killed and the three who fled the scene injured.
According to natives in areas similarly affected by such oil palm plantation such as in Bakong and Tinjar in Baram, the same group of gangsters had also been employed by plantation companies in their areas who harassed and intimidated them when they tried to oppose plantation activities on their customary lands.
In December 1997, a similar violent clash also occurred between the Iban natives of Rumah Bangga in Bakong Baram, Sarawak whereby three members of the longhouse were shot by the police and one, Enyang anak Gendang, died.
The root cause of all these conflicts is the continued arbitrary action of the Sarawak government issuing leases to oil palm plantation companies which covers or includes native customary land of the sarawak indigenous communities.
Several civil suits had also been filed by the natives against the Sarawak government and the plantation companies in which they sought, inter alia, to declare the grant of the leases over their customary lands as unconstitutional.