Fed-up with police inaction, natives from five Iban longhouses want the government to immediately withdraw a provisional lease issued to an oil palm company.
MIRI: An oil palm company was allegedly taking advantage of the ‘ignorance’ of the natives in the Rumah Jambai Anak Jali in Sungai Bekelit and Rumah Rajit Anak Ambas in Sungai Bekelit Ulu longhouses when it enticed them into signing an agreement which apparently gave away their native customary rights (NCR) to the firm.
Fortunately the longhouse chiefs of Rumah Jambai Anak Jali and Tuai Rumah Rajit found out the company’s intention.
They immediately lodged a police report against Tung Huat Niah Plantation Sdn Bhd at the Bekenu police station last week.
According to Rumah Jambai chief, the agreement was destructive as it allegedly demanded that they relinquished all their interests and rights to their land.
The agreement also allegedly declared the land as state land and that the longhouse residents will not claim the land as NCR property.
“In order to entice the residents into signing the agreement, the company paid RM250 as ex-gratia payment to 42 of his longhouse residents.
“The company made my longhouse residents sign an empty voucher in order to collect the RM250. To me this is not right,” said Tuai Rumah Jambai, pointing out that some of his followers had already signed the agreement.
However, after realising their mistake, 18 residents from his longhouse returned the money.
The chief added that the company had prepared RM14,000 to be distributed to his longhouse as well to Rumah Rajit, Rumah Jeli and Rumah Duta
No police action
According to another headman, Tuai Rumah Rajit, to date they have already lodged 55 police reports since the dispute started in 2008.
But police have taken no action, said Tuai Rumah Rajit.
“Our people from the two longhouses are angry with the way Tung Huat Niah Plantation Sdn Bhd is trying to cheat us into signing an agreement that is going to sign their rights away to the company.
“We want the government to withdraw the provisional lease given to the company and stop encroaching into our NCR land.
“We also want the authorities, especially the police to investigate our numerous reports against the actions of this company,” said Tuai Rumah Rajit.
Tung Huat Sdn Bhd has been issued the provisional lease by the Land and Survey Department in 2006 to go into a joint venture with the Land Custody Development Authority (LCDA).
The JV is to develop the land for the purpose of an oil palm plantation at Lot 2, Block 9 Bukit Kisi Land District totaling about 3,361 hectares.
The natives however alleged that the lease overlapped with the NCR land currently belonging to five Iban longhouses, namely Rumah Jambai, Rumah Rajit, Rumah Jeli and Rumah Duat all under the Sibuti sub-district.