Saturday 16 July 2011

Natives win another court battle over NCR land

The native communities in Pantu district in Sri Aman have won a court battle for recognition of their rights over their customary land against a timber company and the Sarawak government.

With the victory, Martin Lindang, Biju Nyelang and Buang Jala added their names to the growing list of proud natives who have successfully defended their native customary rights land in recent years.

The trio fought the case on behalf of 500 village folks in two longhouse communities - Rumah Musih and Rumah Usek - in Kampung Sungah Merah, Pantu district.

Six witnesses of the plaintiffs had given their evidence when the contending parties decided to settle the matter amicably.

Kuching High Court judge Sangau Gunting recorded a consent judgment for the NCR land case, which was litigated earlier before justice Linton Albert, who is now a judge in the Court of Appeal.

On Feb 25, a consent order was entered before Albert for a declaration that the plaintiffs had acquired native customary rights (NCR) over the land.

pantu iban logging comapany 201005 trucksSangau yesterday made further orders that the decision preludes Standard Point Sdn Bhd and Roundtree Timber Sdn Bhd - as first and second defendants respectively - from impairing or abridging natives' rights.

He also ordered a prohibitory injunction against both companies, restraining them from trespassing, entering, clearing, felling and/or occupying the plaintiffs' NCR land, and that the issuance of the Forest Timber Licence No T/8329 to the first defendant as far as it covers the NCR land is declared null and void.

The superintendent of Lands and Surveys, Sri Aman and the Sarawak state government - as fourth and fifth defendants respectively - were told to record in their Land Registry such right and thereafter to issue title to the said land in accordance with the Sarawak Land Code.

The third defendant is Sarawak forest director.

NONEThe companies were also ordered to pay an agreed costs of RM20,000 to the plaintiffs.

See Chee How (right) of Baru Bian Advocates acted for the plaintiffs, Esther Wong Zhi Hua represented the companies, while state legal officer Zainuddin Hussaini represented the superintendent of Lands and Surveys, Sri Aman, the Sarawak state government and the Sarawak forest director.

Settled there before the White Rajah

In their statement of claims, the plaintiffs stated that at all material times, they had acquired and or inherited and/or created NCR over the area of land in and around Kampung Sungai Merah Pantu, locally referred to as “pemakai menoa” (communal area land).

They stated that their forefathers had settled on that piece of land long before the White Rajah came to Sarawak in 1839.

According to natives, the NCR was recognised by traditional custom, or Iban adat, in Seri Aman.

However, in March 2006, they discovered that the first defendant had trespassed in the land, felling and cutting trees and destroyed their fruit trees and essential trees, like engkabang and rubber trees.

They subsequently lodged a number of police reports against the trespassing and logging activities.

The second defendant, it was discovered, had no licence to extract timber from the “pemakai menoa”.

They said that it was wrong for the state government to issue the timber licence to the first defendant as they had acquired customary rights over the land.

As consequence of the trespassing and logging activities, the natives had suffered losses.

They said that they had been deprived of their sources of food, fish, medicines, wildlife and other forest produce which they need and are dependent upon their daily sustenance.

They had been deprived of their sources of income from the land, fruit trees, rubber trees, engkabang, durian trees, bintangor trees and other essential trees and crops.

No comments:

Post a Comment