Saturday 13 August 2011

Penans lodge report against Masing

KUCHING: Angry Penan landowners of Kampong Ogos in Niah here lodged a police report against state Land Development Minister James Masing who accused them of stealing fresh fruit bunches from joint venture oil palm plantations.

The report was lodged at the Batu Niah police station by Tua Kampong Ogos on behalf of 145 Penan families.

Landowners from the village were among those accused by Masing of stealing fresh fruits from the Suai plantation jointly owned by Land Custody and Development Authority (LCDA), the landowners and Sarawak Plantations Sdn Bhd.

On Aug 4, Masing told a press conference that the oil palm plantations between LCDA and private companies suffered an estimated loss of RM33 million through theft of fresh fruit bunches since last year.
The minister said the main culprits were suspected to be landowners of the JV plantations who took matters into their own hands by stealing the fresh fruits as they were dissatisfied with the dividends paid out or were angry about the slow payments.

Masing cited three of LCDA joint venture projects on NCR land, Kim Loong Corporation Bhd at Sungai Tenggang, Sri Aman, Palmraya Plantation Sdn Bhd in Meruan, Sibu and Sarawak Plantations Sdn Bhd in Suai, Miri, incurred losses estimated at RM24 million since last year.

Theft at a joint venture project on state land involving LCDA and IOI Corporation in Tinjar, Baram, reportedly caused losses estimated at RM9.8 million during the same period.

He said that another group believed to be involved in the theft were local people who claimed native customary rights on part of the plantation land and deemed it their right to harvest the fruits.

Masing said the theft became more rampant with the rise of palm oil resulting in more demand for the fruits.

‘Contempt of court’

Contacted today, Jadam Siew who accompanied his headman to the police station said that the villagers were embarrassed by the minister’s accusation.

“The minister’s allegation was not only baseless but very bias. He should also listen to our views and not only listen to the views of the companies,” he said.

Jadam said since the company developed their land 13 years ago, it had until now failed to produce any written agreement between the company and the people.

“Since the company failed to give us the agreement, we have the right to chase away the company from our land. We want the land returned to us.

“And since the land is our land, it is also our right to harvest the fruits planted on it,” he said, pointing out that the landowners wanted the police to carry out an immediate investigation.
“This is to clear our names,” Jadam added.

Landowners from Sungai Tenggang, Pantu, in Meruan, Sibu and in Tinjar, Baram, were also expected to lodge police reports against Masing for contempt of court as the plantations he mentioned were either still pending in court or returned to them by the court.

“Calling us thieves is not only irresponsible on the part of the minister, but he has also committed contempt of court,” said Nicholas Mujah, one of the landowners whose land had been returned.

No comments:

Post a Comment