Monday, March 18, 2013

Farmer slashed by Taib-linked men

Joseph Tawie

March 17, 2013
Surik Muntai and 300 other landowners from 17 longhouses from Melikin in Serian district are suing a company linked to two PBB leaders for encroaching into their NCR land.
KUCHING: A director of an oil palm plantation company, linked to two leaders in Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu has been detained for allegedly assaulting a 67-year-old farmer over a native customary rights land issue.
Serian police confirmed that Andrew Wong, a director in United Teamtrade Sdn Bhd was arrested three days ago and is currently in remand.
Wong together with three other security personal, one allegedly armed with a  parang, had attacked farmer Surik Muntai last Friday while he was waiting to pick up his son from the Sungai Menyan primary school.
He was severely wounded and suffered a broken right arm and legs in the attack. He is now recuperating in the Sarawak General Hospital, Kuching.
Police are yet to arrest the three others who were allegedly with Wong.
Surik is one of more than 300 landowners from 17 longhouses from Melikin in Serian district who are suing United Teamtrade for encroaching into their NCR land.
The attack on Surik was the second incident in Melikin. The first was when Michael Luang’s 4WD vehicle worth RM76, 000 was torched allegedly by persons working for the company.
Highlighting what had happened to Surik on Friday, his wife Rosni Langgap said: “My husband was waiting for me while I fetched our seven-year-old son from the school.
“Suddenly I heard a commotion and saw my husband was seriously injured.
“The attack was witnessed by several people who were picking up their children from the school.”
Rosni said that her husband could identify two of the attackers and knew one of them as Wong,  a United Teamtrade director.
No action from police
Commenting on the attack, local NCR lawyer See Chee How urged the police to acrry out an immediate investigation.
“The investigation should be sped up in order to stop further violence between the people and the company.
“If it appears that the police are not taking action against the culprits, then the villagers may resort to taking the law into their hands.
“We do not want the villagers to do that,” said See, who is the Batu Lintang Assemblyman.
See, who is also Sarawak PKR vice chairman added that he will write to the relevant authorities asking them to protect the villagers from being threatened by the company’s staff.
The United Teamtrade was issued a provisional lease (PL) by the state government to plant oil palm on some 7,300 hectares of land.
But the natives have claimed that the bulk of  the land was within their ancestral lands which they had occupied for more than 100 years.
Ignoring their pleas the company had cleared the land and destroyed thousands of the fruit and oil palm trees and cash crops. The move has angered the natives.
Despite several police reports having been lodged against the company, there has so far been no arrest. Instead nine of the NCR landowners were arrested and charged for criminal intimidation.
All the nine have been discharged and acquitted.
The landowners had no alternative but to sue the company in order to seek justice, compensation and to stop the company from planting oil palm on their land.
~ Free Malaysia Today

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