15 JUNE 2015
On 26 May 2015, the Borneo Post published a notice of the government’s intention to declare an area of approximately 120,855 ha (close to 300,000 acres) as Protected Forest, (“Proposed Ulu Trusan Protected Forests”) extinguishing the Native Customary Rights of the Lun Bawangs.
On Thursday morning 11th June 2015, I conducted a briefing in Lawas, for the people who are affected by this proposal, to explain to them the mechanism of the law on the creation of Protected Forests, the effect this extinguishment would have on their rights, and the actions that should be taken to protect our NCR. The meeting was attended by over 250 people and several Ketua Masyarakat from the many affected areas including Lower, Central and Upper Trusan; Long Resina/Dadar, Long Remirang, Long Lutok, Long Sukang, Puneng Berayung, Berayung Tengah, Long Tuyo, Long Luping, Puneng Trusan, Long Telingan, Long Semadoh Rayeh, Long Semadoh Neseb, Long Tanid, Long Beluyu, Long Kerabangan, Apba Brunut and the Ba’ Kelalan area.
At the meeting, it was unanimously agreed that the following be carried out:
1. All those affected will complete the forms to claim their NCR, whether as individuals or families, in accordance with the ‘pemakai menoa’ or ‘tana bawang’ or ‘tana kenen’. These forms will be submitted together with evidence of NCR in accordance with the legal process at the Regional Forest office in Miri.
2. A letter signed by all those affected will be sent to the Chief Minister objecting to the PF and asking for the proposal to be withdrawn and cancelled, detailing the reasons for the objections.
3. A suit is to be filed by my law firm on behalf of the affected parties for an injunction and to nullify the whole process.
In the meantime, our team is sending letters to all villages to get the signatures of those villagers who were not present at the briefing.
Many questions were asked by the affected people at the meeting. They are utterly outraged and shocked that the government would extinguish their NCR land thereby threatening their very existence. The proposal covers a huge area of Lun Bawang NCR lands within N. 70 Ba’kelalan, leaving small portions of cleared areas around the villages. This in effect will deprive the people of their hunting, foraging and fishing lands and leave them with nothing to live off.
I am indeed extremely disappointed that this current administration is perpetuating the policies of the previous State Government in this attempt to extinguish the rights of indigenous Sarawakians. Our rallying cry in defending our lands, ‘Tana Kai, Ulun Kai’ (‘Our Land, Our Life’) will be heard all over Sarawak. The Lun Bawangs will not become ‘Lun Bawang, Iamo Na Bawang’, (‘People of the Land, With No Land’).
ADUN N.70 Ba’ Kelalan