Logging companies in Sarawak often employ to threaten and intimidate indigenous communities who try to resist encroachment on their land.
Sunday, June 29, 2014
Sarawak Report has researched the global reach of Sarawak’s timber mafia and we can reveal a web of logging interests that have spread into every remaining tropical timber region of the planet.
Posted by Suara Sarawak at 6/29/2014 11:15:00 PM
Last updated on 29/06/2014 - 19:05
29/06/2014 - 18:00
KUCHING: The plight of the suffering Penans who had to make way for the Murum Dam in Sarawak has been reconfirmed by Suhakam commissioner James Nayagam.
Nayagam who visited the displaced community recently managed to witness first-hand the horrendous situation they are in and the “empty promises” made to the Penans by the state government.
For starters, the Suhakam commissioner acknowledged that the access road to the resettlement areas was in deplorable condition. When it rained, it became inaccessible even to 4WD vehicles to ferry the children to school.
One of the most obvious results of the poor road condition during rainy weather was the high absenteeism of students at the primary school SMK Tegulang which is located a few kilometres away from the settlement.
According to Nayagam, the headmaster and assistant headmaster of the school told him about high absenteeism among pupils due to the unsafe roads during a heavy downpour and had proposed that a hostel be built near the school to overcome the problem. Currently, there are 120 children and 15 teachers in the school
The disgruntled community at the two resettlement areas of Metalun and Tegulang voiced their list of grievances which included lack of schooling facilities, inadequate infrastructure, pathetic living conditions and lack of a proper access road to the Suhakam commissioner.
Nayagam’s visit, facilitated by Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB), was to enable Suhakam to make hands-on evaluation of the real conditions in the resettlement areas.
Save Rivers chairman Peter Kallang, who has been highlighting the plight of the communities that have been displaced and are being threatened by the ongoing HEP dam building activities in Sarawak, said that Suhakam’s visit was positive.
“We are happy that the team from Suhakam can see the problems with their own eyes and tell the world about it. This is tangible evidence that all the grand promises made by the government are just rhetoric to hoodwink the people in order to make sure that the dams are built.
“We have visited the people in the resettlement areas and we know that they have a litany of complaints and I can’t understand why their plight is being ignored. If the Murum dam is an example of all future dams in Sarawak, it is a scary prospect. The Murum settlements are just another example of broken promises and shabby management,” he added.
“People in Baram must never be duped by all the glorious promises of better livelihood in the so-called ‘Bandar Baru’ which is made to sound like the mythical Shangri-La. But as proven from the past dams, the government is not sincere in fulfilling its promises. All it wants is to get rid of the villages and villagers and use their ancestral land to build mega dams”, Kallang warned.
Sadly but inevitably, the people who benefitted from the mega dams projects were not the natives who sacrificed so much in making way for the dams.
“Just look at the experience of the people who made ways for Batang Ai Dam, Bakun Dam and now Murum Dam. Some landowners from the first dam built in the state, Batang Ai dam built in the 1980s, have yet to receive their rightful compensation until today,” he claimed.
According to Nayagam, there were many unfulfilled promises the community brought up and he had assured the villagers that Suhakam would meet other NGOs as well as relevant government agencies to look into the issues raised.
Among them were the monthly cash allowances, electricity supply, promised farming land and poor housing structure with no proper waste disposal system and lack of playground facilities for children.
They currently receive RM250 cash allowance and RM600 food allowance monthly, but they complained that the supply and delivery of foodstuff was inconsistent and would prefer a RM450 cash allowance and RM400 food allowance.
They also requested for a 24-hour electricity supply compared with the current supply through generator from 6pm till midnight. The community had yet to receive 15 hectares of land per family and agriculture farming assistance, which was promised before construction of the Murum Dam began.
Another issue raised was that the longhouses at the resettlement areas had structural defects and there was also no proper refuse disposal system for household refuse.
The construction of the RM3.5 billion Murum Dam in Belaga was completed last September and scheduled to be generating full 944MW capacity by February next year.
A total of 353 families were relocated to Long Wat at Tegulang resettlement site, located approximately 20km from the dam, and Metalun resettlement site, about 130km from the dam, since September last year.
Under the Murum Resettlement Action Plan, the affected communities are to receive items worth more than RM600,000, including 15 hectares of land per household for community and agricultural purposes and forest access to wildlife and forest produce of a total area of up to 20,000 hectares.
Posted by Suara Sarawak at 6/29/2014 10:07:00 PM
BY JENNIFER GOMEZ
Published: 29 June 2014
Malaysia is becoming more and more an Islamic state in which the rights of non-Muslims are increasingly trampled upon, say religious leaders. – June 29, 2014.
The national interfaith council has weighed in on the debate on whether Malaysia is a secular state and if hudud should be implemented in the country, pointing to historical evidence and provisions in the Constitution which dispel any doubts that the nation’s founding fathers had intended the nation to be a secular, not an Islamic state.
Citing historical documents such as the Alliance Memorandum submitted to the Reid Commission in 1956, and the white paper issued by the British government in June 1957, the council pointed out there was no historical document to contradict the fact that Malaysia was intended to be a secular state.
The Alliance Memorandum was jointly submitted by Umno, MCA and MIC to the Reid Commission and specifically stated that they wanted a secular state, although the religion of the state was to be Islam.
These assertions were made by Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikkhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) president Jagir Singh in response to a recent statement by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom that Malaysia was not a secular state.
Jamil Khir had also said that the formation of Malaysia was based on the Islamic administration of the Malay sultanates and that the Malay sultans were heads of Islam in their respective states.
Jagir said that a secular state did not mean that religion and the state were completely separate.
"For example, countries like Turkey and Indonesia are grounded in Islamic principles but are secular.
"Therefore Malaysia can be described as a secular country with Islam as the religion of the federation but where Islam does not form the basic laws and where the Constitution is the supreme law," he added.
According to Jagir, Article 4(1) also made it clear that the Constitution, not shariah law, was the supreme law of the land.
He added that the words Islamic law and shariah courts were not even found in the 1957 Constitution.
"The Muslim courts were renamed Shariah courts in 1976 by amending Schedule 9, similarly 'Muslim law' was amended to read 'Islamic law'.”
As such, Jagir said the interfaith group was against any plan to implement hudud in the country.
He said the council was concerned that its implementation would undermine the consensus reached between the different communities, as well as the Constitution and fundamental rights, including freedom of religion.
"It will turn this country from a parliamentary democracy into Islamic theocracy and under this, God's law is supreme, which means the Quran and Sunnah become the reference points, not the Constitution."
He added that of the 57 Islamic countries in the world, only a dozen have implemented hudud and they did not include the two most populous Muslim nations – Indonesia and Bangladesh.
"The conditions are not suitable for the implementation of hudud in Malaysia because it would require a pious society that is honest, and because when the punishment is meted out, it is irreversible," he added.
Federation of Taoist Associations of Malaysia president Daozhang Tan Hoe Chieow said the process of Islamisation began in 1980s as a political response to the inability of the Malay Muslim mind to come to terms with the pains and pitfalls of moderation and hyper modernity.
"This created the need for fundamentalist Muslims to retreat to a safer zone of religious comfort by calling for the imposition of cultural laws like shariah and its instrument of control, which is hudud," he said.
Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk R.S. Mohan Shan said that even without hudud, non-Muslims were being oppressed as many institutions were turning a blind eye in cases of conversion of children, child custody cases and the raid by Jais on the Bible Society of Malaysia.
"Jais's raid on the Bible Society only proves that they are trying to regulate other religions.
"So even without hudud, there is so much injustice by non-functioning institutions and matters will only worsen if hudud is introduced."
Mohan said it was not true that hudud would not affect non-Muslims in Malaysia, pointing out that Section 52 of the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Enactment stated that non-Muslims could elect to come under shariah law.
"This is clearly unconstitutional as jurisdiction is by law. It cannot be obtained by submission or acceptance," he said.
Council of Churches of Malaysia general-secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri said the hudud issue was an example of intra-Islamic contestation taking place in the political sphere.
"Those speaking about these issues are trying to increase their Islamic credentials, while Umno and PAS are trying to out-Islamicise each other," he said.
Hermen said what was more urgently needed in the country was for a fair, transparent and accountable system of governance.
"We don't even have this in our country," he said.
PAS had previously announced plans to introduce two private members’ bills in Parliament this month to allow it to enforce hudud in Kelantan.
However, it postponed the tabling of the bills, explaining that it was to give sufficient time for a joint Putrajaya and Kelantan government committee to study the implementation of the shariah penal code.
Notwithstanding that, PAS has maintained that it was determined to implement hudud.
The private members' bills would have allowed the Kelantan government to enforce the Kelantan Shariah Penal Code II, which was passed in 1993 by the state assembly. – June 29, 2014.
Posted by Suara Sarawak at 6/29/2014 09:52:00 PM