Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Penan go to court to defend Heart of Borneo rainforests

Ba Jawi community sues logging group Samling and the Sarawak state government in order to protect 15,000 hectares of high-conservation-value tropical rainforest.

Ba Jawi (Sarawak), MALAYSIA. The Penan community of Ba Jawi in Sarawak's Upper Baram region has today lodged a collective action lawsuit against Malaysian timber giant Samling and the state government of Sarawak over 15,000 hectares of primary rainforest in order to protect their livelihood from being destroyed by logging.

The great and beloved architect of development.

The case was filed this morning by lead plaintiff Lija Agan, headman of the tiny village of Ba Jawi, and three other plaintiffs who are claiming that the Ba Jawi forests have been used since time immemorial by their ancestors and urgently need to be protected against logging. "About 200 years ago, the ancestors of the plaintiffs were living in and around Ba Jawi, exercising native customary rights over the land in Ba Jawi and its vicinity", the Penan's statement of claim reads. "They hunted and gathered food from the forests and lived on sago (uvut) as their staple food. The plaintiffs are presently exercising these rights over that same land."

Food security threatened.

The Penan are claiming that a logging licence held by Samling Plywood, a subsidiary of the Malaysian Samling group of companies, should be rescinded, since it was issued by the Sarawak government in an "unlawful, improper, unconstitutional and therefore null and void" manner.

The rape, plunder and devastation.

The new case is the fifth native customary rights case lodged by Eastern Penan communities from Upper Baram since 1998. It has been prepared with assistance from the Bruno Manser Fund and will be represented by the renowned law office of Messrs. Baru Bian in Kuching.

Peace loving Penan.

The area covered by the Ba Jawi claim is a key region of the Penan Peace Park, a self-administered conservation region in the Heart of Borneo, which was proclaimed a nature reserve by 17 Penan communities in November 2009 and covers twice the size of Singapore.

Satellite overview of the affected areas.

In February 2007, the governments of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei signed the tripartite "Heart of Borneo Declaration" in which they committed themselves to protecting the rainforests of central Borneo. However, the declaration has not been followed by much action on the ground. In December 2009, Sarawak's director of forests, Len Talif Salleh, even condemned the Penan Peace Park as an "illegal" project that "tainted Sarawak's image".

Datu Haji Len Talif Salleh
Director of Forestry, Sarawak
President, Melanau Association Kuching (2009 - 2012)


Anonymous said...

I sincerely hope that the Penans will embrace civilisation & modernisation. We are at the mercy of Globalisation. Sarawak is a land of massive size and to ensure equal develoment (Urban-rural) throughout the State is impossible. No countries were able to do that. Furthermore, ours is a young State since independance. The sporadic and scattered groups of natives all over the inlands is a challenge to development. It is not easy to reach to the interiors and ensure all of them can benefit equally. There will be pockets of success, but there will also be some groups that refuse civilisation - they remain in the jungle? (for how long?)

How will the development of the urban bridge the rural? Will they ever catch up?

What is the right method for natives? If land is given, does it mean that their lives will always be in the rural? What about medicine? Education? Water? all the development package they must one day have? Bringing development to the rural is costly.

The realities of development will require lands to build physical things - roads, plantations, buildings such as hospitals, schools etc...

Will they cooperate?


Pakatan Rakyat Supporter said...

Development is a big word that is open to interpretation. The BN's concept of development is: "You vote me, I give you a small reward. You don't vote me, I give you nothing. And whether you vote me or not, I have the right to take your land because I am the Government."

Pakatan Rakyat does not subscribe to this daylight robbery concept of "politics of development".

Baru Bian will bring REAL development. We will build the infrastructure to these remote places. We will build roads and bridges to access these remote places. How will Baru Bian accomplish this?

With the 20% oil royalty that Sarawak will get if Pakatan takes over Putrajaya and keeps it Manisfesto promise to return oil money to Sarawak. Currently, Sarawak gets only 5%. That equals about RM1 Billion.

With 20%, Sarawak will get RM8 Billion. It costs around RM1 Million to build 1 kilometer of road. With RM8 Billion, do the maths. That's 80,000 kilometers of road.

When roads access these remote places, the Penans will have access to the urban centres and have the choice to STILL live their nomadic lifestyle.

In addition, Baru Bian will set up a Land Commission that will be empowered to grant INDIVIDUAL TITLES to NCR lands. This means the Penans will then have financial independence and can use their land titles to apply for business loans (mortgage). THIS is real development.

Is BN willing to do this for the Penans besides robbing them of their lands?

Anonymous said...

Remember BN simply convert to barang naik harga why we are still vote for them please make a change berubahlah......when can you get the 20% royalty when u done one to make a change??? Please remember our 18 points of agreement when we formed Malaysia 16.9.1963. VOTE PR..... DENIAL BN!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Bringing development is costly? Get 10% of the total value of timber fell in Sarawak, you have silver rail to all this rural community! What do these rural community get in return for logging on their land? Arrested by police for blockage, Gangster showing of their muscle, and of course few get rich..

vandlister said...

A reply to Jack .

I believe that the Penans have their rights to choose , development does not mean that we have to scarifie the Penans rights , they are the native of the country , the forest is their home land .
Embracing civilisation and modernisation does mean that they have to be forced out of their home , whats good of civilisation and modernisation as we savagely ignore someone rights of choosing their way of living and force them out of their home land and continue taking from what had left so little by mother nature to us ? To you that tiny portion of forest look massive but compare to the size of the earth , it is tiny and need protection . The view of civilisation and modernisation are totally different from one individual , mine is well developed city with a well blend with mother nature , yours might be greatly developed city with high rise buildings and highways .
The Penans could stay their way of living as long as they want , thats doesnt stop knowledge and medication to reach them , it is just harder to reach but thats is not the reason for over exceed logging .
Logging in Malaysia are not well planned and drived by the greed of a small group , this caused the life for Penans to be treated .
build an extra unnecessary river dam is a sign of corruption and again a robbery to the Penans .

I do hope you can understand and sorry for my bad english .