Residents of Kampung Siru Dayak and Kampung Sebat Dayak in the state constituency of Tanjung Datu in Lundu, Sarawak, are fighting an uphill battle against a crony company that has encroached into their native customary rights (NCR) land.
They have accused the company of encroaching into their 280 acres of land and destroying their cash crops, fruit trees, rubber trees and oil palm trees.
They have a tough time seeking justice because the company is said to be linked to the family of former Sarawak chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.
"It appears that no one can help us, not even the police, despite so many police reports having been lodged.
"Even our elected state representative, Adenan Satem, who is now the chief minister of Sarawak, cannot help us," said Nanty anak Binglai, a housewife and spokesperson for a group of residents who called a media conference yesterday.
"We wrote to Adenan when he was an ordinary minister, asking for help, and there was no response. In April this year we wrote again to him, reminding him of our problems and this time he was already the chief minister.
"And till now, we are still waiting for his response," Nanty said.
More than 100 families in a dilemma
The frustrated villagers, who are mostly from the Selakau Dayak community, staged a protest in front of the company's office on Sunday, June 29, to highlight their problems.
Nanty said: "More than 100 families from the two villages are now in dilemma as we have not only no land to farm after our 280 acres were taken away by Entrep Resources, but our cash crops, fruit trees and oil palm trees have also been destroyed.
"Some of us lost as many as 800 oil palm trees. We have lodged several police reports against the company, the latest on June 27, and until now the police have not taken any action."
Tracing the history of their settlement, she said their ancestors occupied the area in 1936, during the regime of British Resident James Brooke.
Their problem started in 1970, when the residents made no protest over the felling of timber on their NCR land by a company in 1970.
"In 2010 we found out that our land within Lot 1014, Block 8, Pueh Land District, had been alienated to Entrep Resources Sdn Bhd for the planting of oil palm.
"Our first step was to meet with the district officer of Lundu and other authorities, but all our efforts ended in futility.
"On Nov 25, 2011, we filed legal action in the High Court against the company for the return of our land. But on March 7, 2014, the High Court ruled against us," Nanty said, adding that an appeal has been filed with the Court of Appeal.
Meanwhile, in a letter dated April 20, 2014, to Chief Minister Adenan (left), the villagers said that as citizens who loved peace and respected the laws, they have decided to appeal to him as their elected representative to intervene and solve their problem by returning the land to them.
"We don't believe the company will incur any loss as our land is only 280 acres, compared with more than 1,000 acres that have been alienated to the company," the villagers said in the letter.