Taken from Borneo Independent News Service
20 August 2010
KUCHING – The much anticipated trial of the residents of Rumah Ranggong longhouse against BLD Resources Sdn. Bhd., the Sarawak Land and Survey Department and the Sarawak Government got off to a lively start yesterday morning at the Kuching High Court, with the representatives of the longhouse holding a peaceful demonstration in front of the court complex.
Around 80 representatives of the longhouse came in two buses at 9am and congregated in front of the court complex and held a short demonstration before proceeding into the court house where the trial started at 10am.
Three witnesses from three neighbouring longhouses were called to testify and acknowledge the existence of the native customary rights claims of the residents of Rumah Ranggong and their communal boundary between them.
The three witnesses are Tuai Rumah Belili anak Liom from Rumah Belili, Buak anak Jenau from Rumah Ampau and Tuai Rumah Umpor Anak Lunsa from Rumah Umpor.
At 4pm the trial was adjourned and set to another date on the 24 to 28 January 2011.
The case was presided by Justice Datuk Albert Linton, while Harrison Ngau Laing represented the Plaintiffs headed by Changgai Anak Dali and a few others from Rumah Ranggong. George Lo represented the First Defendant, BLD Resources Sdn. Bhd. and Joseph Cheoh represented the Sarawak Land and Surveys Department and the Sarawak State Government.
Previously in 2008, BLD Resources sued Changgai Anak Dali for allegedly trespassing into BLD’s plantation. Changgai disputed this suit saying that he and the residents of Rumah Ranggong have native customary rights (NCR) over the said land. In fact, in 1999, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between BLD Sdn. Bhd (sister company of BLD Resources), Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) and the NCR landowners at Ulu Niah, where Rumah Belili and Rumah Ranggong were the participating longhouses, to develop the Ulu Niah NCR land based on the joint venture project called ‘konsep baru’.
However in 2008, Changgai and his fellow villagers discovered to their horror that their NCR JV project was cancelled – reason given was the government made a mistake saying the land is NCR.
Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister, Alfred Jabu and the then Sarawak Minister for Housing Celestine Ujang handed out the 10 percent upfront payment worth RM294,990 in 2001 to the participants of the scheme. The promised dividends or bonus payments for the participants of the scheme were not paid until 10 years later when the residents protested against BLD’s suit.
In 2008, Jabu in in an attempt to pacify the angry villagers handed a cheque amounting to RM436,708.20 in dividends and bonuses to 226 participants of the Ulu Niah NCR Joint Venture Project. However, the suit made by BLD against them was not withdrawn and worst still, the State Government does not recognise the land as native customary land.
Here is the link to the previous news release on this case. Jabu under fire over NCR scheme
The residents of Rumah Ranggong also did a miring ceremony at the Kuching court complex in December 2008. Here is the link We have power: why use the power of the spirits and courts?
Comment from Harrison Ngau
I am doing all I can to fight for them. But its the court which will decide. According to the Ibans, the then British Colonial Govt had allocated them the land which was complete junglr after they were allowed by the Govt to migrate from their former longhouse in Skrang in the 1930s. Sometime in late 1940s, the Govt had fixed and recorded the boundary of their land with longhouse neighbouring them. The map of their said land boundary is still kept in the Land and Survey Dept Miri until today. However the present BN rule – Sarawak Govt alleged that the recording of the land boundary was only for administrative purposes ie it is not a permit given by the Govt to the Ibans which granted them rights over the land within the land boundary.
In 1999, the Sarawak Govt through the Ministry of Land Development
has implemented the NCR JV Project (Konsep Baru – whereby NCR landowbers to hold 30%, private investor – 60% and SLDB as trustee of NCR landowners -10%) over the temuda lands of the Ibans within their said land boundary. It was officially launched by Jabu and Celestine Ujang (both PBB Iban leaders!) whereby an MOU and an Agreement were signed between SLDB and Bintulu Lumber Development Sdn Bhd on the implementation of the said NCR JV Project.
The Govt accepted the Ibans have NCR over the temuda lands. Until April, 2009, the NCR landoners were paid dividends and bonus. However, the Ibans now discovered that the said Agreement has been revoked in 2008. James Masing (also Iban leader in BN/PRS President) as the Minister of Land Development was signatory to the Agreement between SLDB and the said company which revoked the earlier Agreement. And worst still, the BN led Govt says the Ibans have no NCR over their temuda lands within the NCR JV project area, ie after 9 years accepting the fact that the Ibans have NCR on the land!!!!!
Lesson from this case : All the natives in Sarawak now MUST be very very careful with what the BN and the dayak leaders in BN say or promise. Today they can just say or promise this and that to us. But tommorrow and the years down the road they will deny or dispute or will act against their own promise to us………SO PLEASE, TO YOU ALL MY FRIENDS BROTHERS AND SISTERS particularly the Malays and Dayaks, as the Sarawak State election is coming nearer and nearer the BN and dayak leaders in BN will come to us and make the same promises which they have no intention to keep.