Indigenous People

Malaysia tribes struggle with modern problems

Posted on November 30, 2011. Filed under: Indigenous People |

By M. Jegathesan (AFP) –

SUNGAI ASAP, Malaysia — Tribal chief Danny Ibang lived most of his life in the pristine jungles of the Malaysian portion of Borneo island until he was pushed into a modern world he was told would be better.

And in many ways, it is.

His Kenyah community of 2,000 enjoys electricity, running water, health and educational facilities previously undreamed-of since being moved out of the jungles to a new village to make way for the huge Bakun hydroelectric dam.

But as expanding dams, oil-palm plantations and other development forces thousands off ancestral lands in the state of Sarawak, a host of modern new problems threaten to break down once tight-knit tribal communities.

Village elders and activists say alcoholism, drug use, and crime are on the increase and anger is rising over continuing encroachment on native lands.

“There have been a lot of social changes after the Bakun dam,” said Ibang, 66, whose people were among the first moved to the relocation village of Sungai Asap 14 years ago.

“Some teens who go to school learn to rebel against their parents, and boys and girls now mingle freely as they see it on the television,” he said. There were 10 recent teen pregnancies — something unheard-of in the old days.

The state government is pushing to develop the economy of Sarawak, which is blessed by rich natural resources yet remains one of Malaysia’s poorest states.

But critics say the effort, while necessary, is plagued by graft and harms tribes that are ethnically distinct from the nation’s majority Malays.

Tribal lands make up about 80 percent of Sarawak and “nearly all has been taken for logging and plantations”, said Mark Bujang, head of Borneo Resources Institute, a body working in defence of native land rights.

In October, Penan tribespeople blocked roads into their lands for a week to protest logging and alleged river pollution by Malaysian firm Interhill until the blockade was dismantled by authorities.

At a forum on native concerns in the town of Bintulu in October organised by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, about 150 Iban tribespeople alleged a palm oil company illegally seized their land for a plantation and disturbed ancestral graves, said Joseph Laja, an Iban.

“We are really angry,” Laja told commission members.

“If they move into another part of our land, there could be violence.”

About four million of Malaysia’s 28 million people belong to indigenous tribes, most of which are native to Malaysian Borneo where some retain diminishing traditional rainforest hunting and farming ways.

Officially, they enjoy the same preferential treatment in business, education and other areas accorded to Malays — a controversial policy meant to lift Malay socio-economic standing.

But natives and activists say this has meant little to tribes, who remain among the country’s poorest groups.

As a result, many youths welcome their new life and opportunities in Sungai Asap, which now has 11,600 people from a range of tribes living in traditionally inspired longhouses.

Roads linking the village to coastal cities have, along with modern telecommunications, opened new employment vistas for tribal youths.

“I love living in Sungai Asap,” said Lenny Prescially, 18, as she tapped out messages to friends on Facebook in a local community centre.

Her family moved here from the jungles when she was four and she knows little of the old ways.

“Only the elders want to continue the old lifestyle. They don’t know anything,” she said dismissively of the older men who still hunt wild boar in forests and nearby palm plantations, machetes strapped to their waists.

The Bakun dam has been widely criticised as a white elephant, disastrous for uprooted tribes and pristine jungles that are now inundated by a reservoir the size of Singapore, its projected power output exceeding Sarawak’s needs.

Transparency International has called the dam, which began generating electricity in August, a “monument to graft”.

Much of the anger in Sarawak is directed at Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud — himself from the Melanau tribe — who has governed the state since 1981 and is widely accused of corruption, cronyism, and plundering the state’s resources, which he denies.

But Sarawak Land Development Minister James Masing said the state must develop the economy and give youths new opportunities.

“I have to support (the state’s youths). We need to develop Sarawak,” he told AFP.

But there is a palpable sense of rootlessness today for communities whose identity was long linked to ancestral lands passed down through generations.

“When our land is taken away, there is no longer any blood in our body,” said Sungai Asap resident Stem Liau, 48.

Ibang, the Kenyah headman, said his people were promised eight hectares (20 acres) of farmland per family at Sungai Asap but only received a little more than one hectare of poor-quality land.

“Promises have been broken,” said Ibang, who has struggled to grow pepper, cocoa and rubber.

Hasmy Agam, chairman of the rights commission, said it had received nearly 2,000 complaints over native land rights infringement in Malaysia over the past decade. Many of those complaining have threatened violence.

“We sense that. We hope that is not the solution,” Hasmy said.

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Orang asli community to benefit from RBI development

Posted on March 14, 2011. Filed under: Indigenous People |

-The Star-

PUTRAJAYA: Two government ministries have joined forces to construct houses for the orang asli as part of efforts under the GTP’s Rural Basic Infrastructure (RBI) NKRA where providing homes for the people in rural areas is one of its initiative.

Rural and Regional Develop­ment Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the houses have been planned and it would address the housing issues faced by the indigenous community.

He added that the houses would be built with the assistance of the Defence Ministry that would provide the equipment for construction.

The expenditure for the building of 476 houses would cost the government RM15.7mil with each unit costing RM33,000.

Shafie said the construction would begin soon and the houses are expected to be completed within the year.

He also said the government would also be upgrading existing basic infrastructure for the orang asli community.

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Land policy with native rights in mind needed

Posted on February 23, 2011. Filed under: Indigenous People |

-Free Malaysia Today-

KOTA KINABALU:  The absence of a land policy in Sabah has contributed to the loss of property rights for the indigenous people in Sabah, according to Sabah PKR.

Kong Hong Ming, a presidential council member, said indiscriminate alienation of state land and the takeover of native customary rights (NCR) lands have caused untold hardship to thousands.

“Sabah has never had a land policy. It is time to have one on management of land resources. It must be managed by the state to serve the basic needs of every man and woman who are lawfully citizens of the state, instead of electively feeding the greed of a few,” he said.

Referring to the criminal prosecution by Sabah Forestry Department of six farmers who were found guilty by the Tenom magistrate’s court on Nov 12 last year for ‘trespassin’ into the Kuala Tomani forest reserve to plant hill paddy, he said such a situation should never arise to indigenous people.

“Indigenous people in Sabah are being unjustly deprived of their customary land rights and in the process made poorer and eventually made landless.

“After 47 years of  independence and since September 16, 1963,  the law is without order and justice is far insofar as enforcement and respect for fundamental and human rights are concerned.

“The indigenous people are no longer free to enter state land or allowed to take jungle produce which was practiced since time immemorial, before the existence of any form of governmental administration.

“Today genuine natives of Sabah find themselves to be the oppressed groups under BN rule in terms of their right to property and livelihood from their ancestral lands,” Kong said.

Massive alienation of land

Kong, who also heads PKR Tawau,  said complaints of land grabs and encroachments and destruction of ancestral and customary land are now common events.

He said Suhakam had also expressed concern that the highest numbers of complaints amounting to 977 cases were received from Sabah, compared to 251 cases in Sarawak and 654  in Peninsular Malaysia between 2005 to 2010.

“Today, the natives of Sabah have to compete for land ownership with the powerful and politically connected corporations, and have often become victims of acquisition of state land by government agencies.

“The include SAFODA, SLDB, Lembaga Industri Getah Sabah and other GLCs and corporations that are eyeing land resources and joint ventures with private companies under the guise of public purpose and development.

“Many natives who have applied for five to 15 acres of land 30 years ago are still waiting for the titles to the land that they have occupied and cultivated for generations.

“For many of them, they are waiting in vain, as the land that they have occupied and cultivated had already been given to big corporations,” he said.

Kong went on to add that in recent years, massive acres of state land were alienated to corporations and government agencies at such amazing speed unknown to the natives.

“The BN government alienated 60,000 hectares of state land and 10 forest management units covering about 1,000,000 acres for 100 years to private companies that are encroaching vast areas of NCR land.

“In the 18 districts of Sabah, more than 32,532 native families have become victims of land grabs involving 349,500 acres of NCR land.

“Despite protests, memorandums and appeals to the BN government and leaders, the natives continue to suffer hardship and injustice for the loss of their land.

“It is time the natives examine the failure and neglect by BN government in looking after their welfare and legitimate interest in breach of its fiduciary duty to them as enshrined in Articles 153 and 161(A)(5) of the federal constitution,” said Kong.

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Give orang asli a bigger say

Posted on December 20, 2010. Filed under: Indigenous People |

-The Sun-

MALAYSIA has more than 90 groups of indigenous people with the majority found in Sabah and Sarawak. In Peninsular Malaysia, there are three major groups of indigenous people collectively referred to as the orang asli. Historically, almost all the orang asli communities share a similar way of traditional life where they are highly dependent on the forest resources to sustain their life. They act as forest produce collectors and gatherers, they hunt and fish. Nowadays, affected by development projects, the economic livelihood of the orang asli is also changing. Their traditional means of livelihood are threatened by deforestation and development activities carried out by other stakeholders such as logging companies and the government. The integration into mainstream society is also leading to the rapid loss of their traditional knowledge and cultural practices.

 

Over the past few years, the media and several NGOs working on conservation issues have often tended to blame the orang asli for the illegal wildlife trade without really looking at the bigger picture. I admit there are some who have taken advantage of their hunting rights for the illegal trade but then again, which community does not have a few bad apples? For centuries, the orang asli have traditionally been engaged in agriculture, riverine and coastal fishing and involved in economic trade, both internally with other orang asli and externally with middlemen. They also exploit a diverse range of forest resources including timber, plants, insects, birds, and other animals found in the forests. These resources traditionally serve as food source, medicine, construction material and are used in their rituals.

 

However, the excessive encroachment into their natural environment in the last two decades as a result of development and modernisation of the country has affected the livelihood and quality of life of orang asli. Nearly 80% are classified as living in poverty and are increasingly placed into national integration plans with many of them denied their rights to the forests. Nevertheless, as others have noted, the orang asli are not against development or progress but they do object to detrimental consequences of poorly planned change by the government.

 

This means that the government must plan better alternative livelihood strategies compensating for loss of income if they are serious about addressing the issue of illegal hunting of wildlife among orang asli. The government’s planning should also be in line with United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples obligations, which Malaysia supported and signed in 2007. Any conservation programmes by the government and NGOs should respect the orang asli’s traditional rights to harvest forest resources. Under articles 26 and 29, indigenous peoples “have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired” and “have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources”.

 

These plans must also recognise the orang asli as partners in the decision making process. In short, primary consideration must be given to the orang asli who are still dependent on wildlife as a source of food or income. As such, further approaches should be taken to determine a practical solution that benefits both wildlife conservation interests and the use of forest resources by orang asli.

Azrina Abdullah is doing research on the links between indigenous groups and wildlife trade. She was regional director of Traffic, an NGO which monitors the global wildlife trade. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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Orang Asli Rela Brigade on the cards

Posted on December 13, 2010. Filed under: Indigenous People |

By DHARMENDER SINGH

The Star

PUTRAJAYA: The People’s Volunteer Corps (Rela) will go on a drive to set up a Rela platoon at every Orang Asli settlement in Peninsular Malaysia following the setting up of its Orang Asli Rela Brigade, said its director-general Datuk Zaidon Asmuni.

Zaidon said Senator Muhammad Olian Abdullah, who has been appointed commander of the Orang Asli brigade, would oversee the setting up of a platoon in each settlement and the recruitment of the Orang Asli there.

He said only some of the Orang Asli settlements had Rela Units and some of these had not been very active.

“But with the setting up of the new brigade concentrating specifically on Orang Asli needs, we are sure that we will be able to have active participation especially in maintaining the security and harmony in the settlements,” he said when contacted Monday.

He was commenting on Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein’s statement on Saturday of the setting up of the new brigade and the appointment of Muhammad Olian as the Rela Honorary Brigadier-General heading the brigade.

Zaidon also said that with its recruitment drive since last year seeing membership climb from 556,286 in April last year to over 2 million in Oct this year, he was confident that the body would surpass the Home Ministry set target of 2.5 million members by the end of 2011.

He said one of the areas where Rela had seen vast improvements was the recruitment of more youngsters following the setting up of the Rela Youth Brigade and efforts included setting up platoons under the brigade in colleges and universities.

He said Rela had recently set up a platoon in Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia and was working with other universities and colleges to set up similar outfits.

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Sarawakian arrested for protecting his own land

Posted on December 6, 2010. Filed under: Indigenous People |

Sahabat Alam Malaysia is concerned regarding the recent arrest of an Iban, Liam Rengga, from Rumah Kilat in Sungai Senga, Pandan-Sebauh, Bintulu on Nov 23 under Section 307(1) of the Penal Code.

We have cause for concern over this latest arrest of a Sarawak indigenous community activist, as Section 307(1) carries a very serious charge of attempted murder. It carries a sentence of between 10 to 20 years of jail, and a fine.

The arrest of Liam, 41, took place during the late afternoon of Nov 17 at his farm hut in Ulu Sungai Seplai, which also saw his traditional parang, known as ‘duku latuk’; used for his farming works, seized by the police.

His was arrested in connection to a police report made against him by a personnel of an oil palm plantation company, whose operations are said to have encroached into Liam’s traditional village territory.

In his own police report, lodged after his release on Nov 23, Liam alleged that a day prior to his arrest, he had bumped into two men whom he believed were agents of the oil palm company while he was putting up a no-entry signboard to his land.

Liam claimed to have spoken to the men about the communal hunting prohibition in the area after catching sight of a shotgun in the men’s vehicles.

He was later told off by the latter not to cause a ruckus.

According to Liam, the initiative to put up the signboard was primarily meant to deter outsiders from hunting in his village territory as well as for security reasons.

Liam has been fighting for the village natives’ customary land that was encroached by the plantation company without the people’s consent.

As a matter of fact, he and others are in the process of filing a legal suit against the company.

Led by him, the Rumah Kilat community has set up a residents association last year, the Sungai Senga Residents’ Association (SSRA) in order to better protect their collective interests in this regard.

Since the association was registered on July 20 this year regular campaign work to defend their native land rights has been carried out.

This includes informing the company and government authorities in an official letter dated Aug 31 of the environmental pollution and health of his village and villagers, respectively, being affected by water pollution from the plantation.

SSRA also issued a warning letter to the company on Oct 24 urging its workers to refrain from using the private road that runs through his village native customary land.

On Sept 15, the letters on SSRA’s objectives and functions were sent to the plantation company and several government departments in Bintulu including the District Office, Department of Land and Survey, Health Department, Forestry Department and the police.

The letter also included a copy of their SSRA registration with the Registrar Of Societies, and Sungai Senga’s boundary map.

Over the years, similar cases have been filed against indigenous people of Sarawak who have campaigned against logging and other activities that encroached their native lands.

One such case is the charge against Penan villagers from Long Lunyim, Semali Sait and his father Sait Kiling, who were detained for alleged criminal intimidation under Section 506 of the Penal Code on Sept 4, 2003.

A year later following numerous court adjournments, the charge against them was withdrawn but the experience proved to be a highly intimidating one for the two villagers.

Given the existence of such a trend, we fear that Liam may experience similar injustice; where credible evidence failed to be adduced by the state during the trial, leading to the eventual withdrawal of the charges.

In mid-October this year, seven community leaders in Sebuyau, Simunjan including NGO Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) secretary-general Nicholas Mujah were arrested based on allegations of arson to a timber camp.

Although they were eventually released on Oct 25, the allegations were unjust and evidence was unsubstantiated. These arrests, similar to most detentions of indigenous people speak of harassment and intimidation on NCR landowners to halt the campaign to protect their rights to life and land.

Therefore, we are indeed very concerned that the arrest and charge may possibly be undertaken in order to intimidate and silence Liam.

He is due to appear in court on Jan 6, 2011 and is currently out on bail. He has been asked to report to the Bintulu Police Station every first week of the month.

Liam categorically denied that he and his people had ever engaged in criminal behaviour in their struggle to defend their traditional territories.

He finds the charge of attempted murder extremely outrageous, illogical and way out of line – it certainly has the effect of tarnishing his good name, although he vows not to let his current predicament affect the community land rights struggle.

“I will continue championing our rights. If anything, I am more spirited now than I was before and will fight till the end,” he said. He added that he was prepared for an assault because of the hostility between his villagers and the company workers.

Taking into account all of the above, we therefore strongly urge that the charge against Liam, who is the sole breadwinner of his family, be dropped if the state is unable to gather concrete and comprehensive evidence.

We also call the Sarawak government to affirm the native customary rights of the Rumah Kilat community and to positively engage them by providing meaningful responses to their grievances, as communicated in the letters mentioned above.

Finally, we strongly urge the authorities to stop the intimidation and persecution of native leaders who are fighting for their lawful rights.

The author, SM Mohamed Idris, is the president of Sahabat Alam Malaysia.

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Avatar Programme in Malaysia

Posted on September 27, 2010. Filed under: Indigenous People |

Their Story

Their lands, their forests, their home were destroyed. They are the indigenous rakyat (Orang Asal) in Middle-Baram, Sarawak. They are Malaysians.

They respect the nature, they respect the jungle; their life depends on the jungle, they live harmoniously with the jungle.

Depending on the jungle, they have long been self-sufficient. Now the jungle is encroached by the logging companies, their livelihood and the jungle are being destroyed. They are now compelled to depend on the encroachers for assistance, they are now at the mercy of external forces.

Scattered Penan settlements, devastated jungle, they are no more walking on tranquil and safe jungle trails but to use the logging roads created by the encroachers.

Walking on the logging roads, taking an occasional ride with the logging vehicles, they were subject to sexual abuse, they were raped.

Deep inside the far far land, there is no public transport to travel to the miles-away clinics and to attend classes at the few available primary schools.  Government-built pre-school programme is selective in few villages.  School drop-outs are rampant.

Pre-School Program

Objectives of this Pre-School Project

We think one of the ways to alleviate their problem is through education.

  • To provide community-based pre-school education to Penan children in Middle Baram;
  • To prepare children for entry into primary school educational system;
  • To serve as a model for other community-based, community-run and non-profit pre-school program.

Initiators of the Project

This small and humble project is a joint effort initiated by the Middle Baram Penan community and some concerned individuals including SACCESS, a Kuching-based Community Based Organisation (CBO).

Proposed Location of the Pre-schools

Together with the Middle Baram Penan communities, this project aims to set up two pre-schools Long Itam and Long Pakan in the Miri District. There are two existing community buildings in both Long Itam and in Long Pakan which can be renovated and converted into a school

Initial Projected Budget

No. Expenses (RM) Income via Donation (RM)
2 Pre-school teachers’ salary @ RM500.00 monthly for 12 months in a year for 2 years 24,000
Teachers’ medical fees @ RM250 per teacher per year 1,000
Teachers’ Training @ RM1000 per teacher per year for 2 years 4,000
Teaching Materials @ RM1500 per year per school:

text books, exercise books, pens, pencils, rulers, chalks, colour pensils etc

6,000
Recreational/Physical Education materials @ RM500 per school per year for 2 years 2,000
Annual School Sports cum Year-End Day @ RM500 per year per school 2,000
First Aid Kits & replenishment 500
Building Renovation of RM5000 per school* (one-off event for materials prepared by communities & writing board) 10,000
Transportation 2,000
Misc./contingencies (reports, communication, emergencies, coordinator’s travel etc) 3,500
GRAND TOTAL FOR 2 YEARS 55,000
Note:

a)First Year requirement:

  • RM10,000 for building renovation;
  • Half of all other cost = RM22,500
  • Sub-Total = RM32,500

b) Second Year requirement:

  • RM22,500

c) Total 2 years’ sum of RM55,000 will support 110 students for 2 years; each student at RM500 for 2 years.


Management Committee

A Management Committee comprises of headmen, teachers, Area Pre-school Coordinator,  Sarawak NGO and other volunteers will oversee the planning, setting up and operating of the schools. The Committee welcomes interested organisation/individuals to participate in the project.

What You Can Do

  • Spread words on their predicament;
  • Sign up as volunteer to assist in this project (there are plenty to be done);
  • Involved at the management;
  • Provide accommodation and care to kids from nearby Penan villages;
  • Donate a minimum sum of RM500/= which will support one student for two years.(You may also donate any amount you prefer)

Donation:

  • Cheque please made payable to; KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (please mark at the back of the cheque: “Avatar Programme”)
  • Bank Account: Public Bank 3077 138 310
  • Please send your bankin slip to: email: info@malaysiayouth.com or  fax number: 03-22724089 marked “Avatar Programme”.
  • We operate on an “insist for receipt” policy, kindly indicate to whom the receipt is to be made to.
  • We will publish donors’ list for acknowledgement, kindly indicate name or anonymous to be listed.

For further information, please contact:

Tehyeekeong@gmail.com

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Orang Laut’s plight documented

Posted on September 17, 2010. Filed under: Indigenous People |

-The Star-By BRENDAN VIVE SUPPIAH newsdesk@thestar.com.my

THE plight of the Orang Laut or better known as Orang Seletar, one of the orang asli tribes in Johor facing challenges due to the rapid development in Iskandar Malaysia economic growth corridor have been documented in photography by four amateur and one professional photographer.

They spent the whole day capturing the day-to-day life of the Orang seletar at their village at Kampung Bakar Batu in Perling and Kampung Simpang Arang in Gelang Patah and ended up with 500 images of these people.

One of the amateurs, Dennis Yan who is also a lawyer, said the group decided to photograph the ethnic people as ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ to create awareness on the plight of the Orang Seletar who have been suffering in silence due to lack of publicty or news about them.

The future: This picture shows children of the Orang Laut Seletar.

He said many are not aware that the livelihood of the Orang Seletar, majority of them fishermen, were badly affected from water pollution due to land reclamation activities in the Danga Bay waterfront opposite Kampung Bakar Batu.

Yan said the fish population has declined in the area due to the loss of mangrove trees and breeding ground for fishes, ketam bangkang (mud crabs) and prawns.

The public now have the opportunity to view the works by these photographers. 24 photographic prints are on display at an on-going exhibition at the Lost Malaya Gallery until Oct 23.

A picture says a thousands words: Most of the Orang Laut Seletar earn their livelyhood as fishermen.

Yan said they are hoping to raise funds from photographs that are up for sale with prices from RM150 to RM600 per piece and the proceeds will be donated to the Orang Seletar.

One of the Orang Laut, fisherman Jahan Tom, 43, said his earnings are affected due to a lesser catch from the sea and to be able to get RM500 a month was a blessing.

The father of 12 said he is not able to send his children to school because he could not afford to pay the school fees and books.

Laidback: One of the photographs of the Orang Laut Seletar being displayed.

“I have to provide for my family, pay bills and fuel for my boat to go fishing but with a meagre income, how am i going to survive,” said Jahan.

He said the Orang Seletar have lots of stories about their hardship but lamented nobody was interested to listen or even share their problems.

Fellow villager Bajum Awang, 28, said things have gotten from bad to worse as he could not afford to provide medical attention to his children whenever they are sick.

The good old days: Some Orang Laut Seletar looking at photographs of the people from their village.

“We hope the relevant authorities will look into our hardship and give us some kind of assistance including ensuring our fishing grounds are not polluted,” he said.

Event organiser and Malaysian Society of Marine Science council member Choo Chee Kuang said the society would organise a cultural night performance featuring activites such as folk songs, dances, and handicraft for the Orang Seletar at the gallery.

For details on the photo exhibition and the cultural show, contact Choo at 019-9815940 or email msms.gef@gmail.com or visit the Lost Malaya Gallery at 9, Jalan Skudai, Johor Baru (next to Johor Japanese Club).

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Leaked Samling document confirms allegations of Penan rape

Posted on September 17, 2010. Filed under: Indigenous People |

-Free Malaysiatoday-

MIRI: An internal document from Sarawak’s logging giant, Samling Global, leaked to the Bruno Manser Fund, acknowledged for the first time that the global timber conglomerate is concerned about the involvement of its staff in the alleged rape of native Penan girls and women in Sarawak.

On July 9, 2010, general manager of Samling’s Forest Operations in Malaysia Chin That Thong sent a directive, entitled ‘Kes Rogol Wanita Penan’ (rape case of Penan women) to all Samling timber camp managers, drivers and employees in the Baram river region.

The letter forbids the company’s staff from visiting “any Penan villages or transport any Penan except with the permission of the camp managers concerned.”

Chin threatened employees found to have disobeyed his orders with expulsion from their jobs without compensation.

The letter was sent three days after the Malaysian Penan Support Group published a study that unearthed systematic patterns of sexual violence by loggers against native women in Sarawak’s interior.

While Samling had previously denied the involvement of its staff in the sexual abuse cases, this letter indirectly acknowledged that Samling staff were indeed involved and that the group management was concerned over their insufficient control of their employees’ conduct.

Two weeks ago, Penan from the Upper Baram region complained that Samling officials had threatened to suspend all the transport services provided for them unless they retracted the sexual abuse allegations.

The leaked document provides strong evidence of the fact that the presence of Samling staff in the Penan areas constitutes a continuous threat to the native communities, and particularly to girls and women.

The Bruno Manser Fund is asking the Sarawak state government to halt all logging operations in areas where Samling and other companies operate without the consent of the local communities.

The Sarawak government is also being asked to provide free public transport services for the rural communities and, in particular, for schoolchildren.

Samling is a globally operating Malaysian timber conglomerate with an annual turnover of US$480 million.

In August 2010, the Norwegian Government Pension fund excluded Samling from its portfolio because of the company’s responsibility for illegal logging and severe environmental damage.

This report first appeared on the Bruno Manser Fond website

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JOAS Not Involved In Deal With Australian Company

Posted on August 10, 2010. Filed under: Indigenous People |

-(Bernama) — Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia (JOAS) said Tuesday that it was not involved in a forest carbon deal with an Australian carbon company.

Referring to a news report on Aug 6, “Australia firm signs forest CO2 deal with Malaysian Tribes”, JOAS president Adrian Lasimbang said: “We will like to state that our network was not involved in this and to the best of our knowledge, we do not know which of the 24 villagers or nine community leaders are involved in that project.”

According to the report, an Australian carbon services company had signed a deal with nine Malaysian tribal leaders to certify carbon offsets from a project aimed at preserving more than 100,000 hectares of tropical forest.

The deal, according to the report, would allow the tribes in Sarawak to earn a share of proceeds from the sale of carbon offsets to help them manage and protect the forest over a period of 20 years, with potential payment worth millions of dollars.

Adrian said that JOAS did not support the implementation of REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) in any form, unless the parties involved in the deal have adequate consultation and FPIC (free, prior informed consent).

“We feel it is important to make it clear that it was not our network that was involved in this deal as we strongly and consistently endorse a process of FPIC before signing any deal that involves our forests and territories,” he said.

Adrian said the tribes were fully aware about a mandatory process and at the same time know that an independent workshop should be conducted to allow tribal communities to make their own decisions regarding communal forest.

“We hope that the company has at least ensured that the communities have access to their own lawyers who can independently advise them on the legal matters involved,” he added.

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