Angry Bidayuhs in Bau have written five letters to the Land and Survey Department and most recently to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud but have yet to receive a response from either.
KUCHING: Amidst rare calls by Sarawak Barisan Nasional’s Bidayuh assemblymen for the state Land and Survey Department to steer clear of sacred mountains in Bau following revelations of quarrying and logging within communal and ancestral forests, comes the latest disclosure that one of the companies involved allegedly belongs to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s kin.
Taib’s billionaire sister Raziah and her husband Robert Genied apparently own Serambu Quarry Sdn Bhd, the company that is surreptitiously hacking away valuable granite for profit on historical Mount Serumbu in Bau.
The latest disclosure adds to mounting anger against the Land and Survey Department for allegedly issuing logging permits in another sacred hill – Mount Sadong.
Logging on native customary rights (NCR) land is an ongoing battle between majority Iban landowners, the Sarawak government and its Land and Survey Department.
Despite a court ruling recognising native NCR rights, the state has stubbornly refused to acknowledge this.
Yesterday some 50 people from the local Chinese, Malay and Bidayuh communities participated in a protest urging the government to protect the mountain and revoke the quarrying licence issued to Serambu Quarry.
The protesters, representing communities from the 17 Bidayuh villages around the mountain, said the Serumbu Mountain aside from being their ancestral land was of historic significance as the first White Rajah James Brooke had built his cottage there.
The mountain also was the location of Alfred Wallace’s Trail, named after the famed British naturalist.
Until online newsportal Sarawak Report’s disclosure today of the owners behind Serambu Quarry, locals were puzzled how a company could have been awarded a license to quarry at the mountain.
According to locals they have lodged police reports and written complain letters to the Land and Survey Department as well as to the company but have received no response.
It was also reported that the community had sent a letter to Taib on Oct 30 and this too had received no response todate.
Protect the hills
Last Sunday, the Bibukar Bidayuh community in Serian, amidst fears of losing their ancestral land as faced by their Iban comrades in Melikin, acted swiftly to protect their 1,800 metre high Mount Sadong.
About 1,000 Bibukar from 26 villagers scattered around the mountain to stage a peaceful protest to object to the encroachment on Mount Sadong, which is their ancestral village.
In the process the 13,000 strong community managed to stop a logging company’s further encroachment.
The protest was widely reported, forcing state Infrastructure Development and Communication Minister Micheal Manyin to issue a statement that the authorities had agreed to rescind the licence.
Manyin’s assurance however was taken with a pinch of salt by the community’s leader Temenggong Robert Sulis Ridu, preferring to see decisions in writing.
Meanwhile other Bidayuh BN leaders have also called for the state to preserve the state’s much revered hills and mountains which have historical significance.
Over the weekend Mas Gading MP Anthony Nogeh added his support to the community when he said the hills and its biodiversity must be preserved and guarded for the future generations.
Nogeh also called for Mount Jagoi to be gazetted as a communal forest alongside Mount Serambu.
Last week federal level Natural Resources and Environment deputy minister James Dawos called for Mount Sadong and environment to be protected.