Monday, March 25, 2013

Sarawak NCR defender's attacker walks free

Iban native customary rights (NCR) defender Surik anak Muntai, 66, has expressed his anger and concern that the oil palm "company executive" he identified to police as one of his assailants has been freed on police bail, after three days in remand.

NONESurik, a farmer from Melikin in Serian, suffered horrific injuries on his right forearm and both knees as a result of a ruthless assaultby four men on March 15. 

Serian police have declared that police are unable to identify any of his assailants. District police chief DSP Mohd Jamali Umi told local daily The Borneo Post on March 21 that the four attackers wore masks and Surik could not identify them.

"What we have so far is that the four attackers were in a white Proton Perdana and the car did not have a number plate. As they were wearing masks, no one could tell their races," The Borneo Post quotes Jamali as saying. 

"The victim does not know the attackers. He could not identify them. He however did mention the name of a plantation company. So, we held a staff member of the company to assist us in the investigation."

NONEA reliable police source, and Surik himself, said the man identified to the police was a top "executive" and spokesperson for a prominent Sarawak oil palm producer.

This company and its partner are battling 16 Iban communities for 7,300 hectares of land awarded to the companies by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud's government under a ‘provisional lease'. The villagers hold claim to the land under the NCR. 

Companies Commission of Malaysia records show that the company is closely linked to members of the ruling state cabinet, according to whistleblower website Sarawak Report.

Surik: I definitely saw assailant's face

In an interview with Malaysiakini, Surik insisted that he had clearly identified to the police the company executive who assaulted him.Malaysiakini is withholding the name of this executive.

The thugs attacked Surik, an elderly father or apai, as he waited for his seven-year -old son outside Sekolah Sungai Menyan at 11.30 on the morning of March 15.

"I definitely saw his face," Surik said, speaking in Malay. "(He) was not wearing a mask when he got out of his car outside the school. There were four of them, they were carrying parang and sticks. 

"Some of them wore masks, some did not. They tried to cut my throat,but I put up my arm to stop them, so they cut my arm. There were other witnesses there."

Surik recalled that earlier the same morning, that very person waved him down and stopped him when he was on his way to a mill to deliver oil palm fruits. 

"He said his car had broken down and he was standing in front of his car, with his hands on his car battery. I didn't stop because there were other people in his car, and the car had no (number) plates. These people are definitely bad, they have brought evil to the (Melikin) villagers," Surik said.

As he drove off, he said, the man got into his white Proton car and followed him. "If I had got down before reaching the mill, I would surely have died there, for there was nobody around to help me."

The case investigating officer is Inspector Mohd Azlan Ab Wahab of the Serian police station. The Melikin NCR plaintiffs are wary and uneasy about Azlan after he barged into the homes of five villagers in a late night raid last October and arrested them. 

The villagers were handcuffed, locked in cells and charged with "criminal intimidation", an accusation levelled at them by Surik's attacker and other employees of the oil palm company. The deputy public prosecutor's office eventually dropped the charges, without explanation.

Surik complained to Malaysiakini that an unnamed policeman told him the assailants "did not mean" to cause serious harm. 

"The police said they were only main-main (playing around)," Surik said, and adding that he responded by showing them his extensive injuries - to which the police had no response.

The Serian police chief was, as at noon today, not available to comment.

Lawyers appalled by police statements

On the late morning of March 19, the day the Surik's attacker was released, respected NCR lawyer and state PKR chief Baru Bian visited Surik at the Sarawak General Hospital. 

NONEAt that time, Azlan was taking a statement from Surik in the ward and, Baru (right) said, he clearly heard Surik recount the assault.

"This only means that the police investigation is incomplete. How can (the suspect) be released?" asked Surik's lawyer and PKR assemblyperson See Chee How.

See himself has been the target of hate mail and a Molotov cocktail attack. He has told police these threats were an attempt tointimidate him to pull out of NCR case of the the16 Iban communities in Melikin. The police have not made any arrest. 

See is also appalled by the Serian police chief's statements to the press.

"These statements are a far cry from the recorded statements and testimonies given to the police by Surik and his wife Rosni anak Langap," See pointed out. 

The police report was lodged by Rosni, as Surik lay bleeding as he was taken to the Sarawak General Hospital, during which time he clearly identified one of his attackers as the executive with the said oil palm company.

See noted that Surik had also said he was able to identify another of his assailants, although he did not know his name.

See pointed out that Azlan had given Surik a document explaining that the brutal assault was being investigated under Section 148 of the Penal Code, under "merusuh", which means "commotion" or "riot".

NONE"Any person, not to mention a man aged 66 years, could have died as a result of the assault. What will any reasonable person think the case should be? Attempted murder? Assault and causing grievous hurt with dangerous weapons or means?" See (left) asked. 

"It is incomprehensible how the police could have come to the decision to investigate the complaint as ‘riot' or ‘commotion'.

"How could the content of the police report lodged and the testimonies of the victim be blatantly ignored and overlooked by the police officer in charge of the investigation?"

Baru Bian has written to the Sarawak police commissioner to convey the lawyers' concerns on the manner in which the brutal attack on Surik is being pursued by the police, and the ease with which the plantation company workers have confronted the local NCR landowners.

See added: "We will certainly bring this matter to all the authorities concerned, including the police headquarters in Bukit Aman, to ensure that the poor aged native farmer gets justice.

"Any violent confrontation between native landowners and plantation companies in Serian and elsewhere in Sarawak must be avoided."

~ Malaysiakini

1 comment:

Winston said...

Baru Bian, such cases must be brought to the attention of all Sarawakians.
Let everybody know what these scums are doing!!!!!!