What Justice For The Victims Of Sarawak’s Timber Gangs?
7 Jul 2012
Fear of gangsters is widespread in Sarawak and with good reason. These are the operators outside the law who enforce the greedy land grabs and logging concessions handed out by Taib to his cronies.
By using gangsters, Taib and his business partners avoid being directly implicated and can pretend to have nothing to do with illegal methods.
However, the police know better. They stand aside and turn a blind eye to the thugs, because they know who they really work for and it is not for the poor natives whose lands and livelihoods are being taken away.
We featured one such attack on Sarawak Report last year. Minggat Anak Nyakin and his son Juan Anak Minggat were beaten to within an inch of their lives by vicious gangsters who were teaching them a lesson for protesting against the destruction of their lands by loggers.
So what justice for the victims of gangster attacks?
A year later a team from Radio Free Sarawak have just revisited the family to discover what justice they have received since the attack.
Minggat is still permanently affected by the violent attempt to strangle him and cannot easily speak.
However, he told his story in hoarse tones to Radio DJ Peter John Jaban, reliving the evening in February 2011 when he and his son were brutally beaten and left for dead.
The pair had arrived in their fruit gardens at Pulau Galau above the Sarikei water catchment area (Gerugu Dam) to find that loggers had been destroying their trees.
Angered, he remonstrated with the towkay of the logging company working the neighbouring concession, threatening to go to the law over the desecration of his property by lodging a police report.
He then recounts how, as he turned away, he felt a massive blow to the back of his head which laid him out cold on the ground.
The rest of the savage beating was carried out as he lay unconscious and totally at the mercy of the thugs. His glasses were splintered on his face and he just thanks God that he was not blinded.
His son rushed to his aid but was also brutally beaten by the gang, though he later managed to crawl away into the bushes, walking two hours into the jungle before being rescued by a Chinese farmer.
As Sarawak Report wrote in its original coverage, Minggat was left for dead on the steps of the Company Manager’s office. In fact, Juan tells RFS that his hope at the time was only to recover his father’s corpse, so sure was he that the attack had been fatal.
In the end it took 4 days before Minggat recovered consciousness in hospital and it has been a long, painful road since.
So, over a year on, what have the police done about this shocking attack? Minggat says he is still waiting for progress on the case, even though he and his son were able to identify the criminals. Only one of the gangsters has been arrested, but the case has not been pushed forward against him and this man is now free to roam Sarawak.
According to Minggat, the man is even continuing with in his illegal logging activities unhindered elsewhere in the area.Understandably, this law-abiding citizen who still bears the scars of his ordeal, is angered by the apparent lack of interest the police have shown in his plight.
Driven to take justice into their own hands?
Worryingly, Minggat, like others who have been subjected to land grabs, threats and intimidation, is running out of patience.
As he himself says, he is getting older and does not have the time to wait for a resolution.
In his interview he told Radio Free Sarawak that his frustration is such that he is tempted to take matters into his own hands again, because after more than one year he has started to despair that the authorities will ever do anything to bring his case to justice.
Despite years of failure by the Forestry Department, the Land and Survey Department and the police to act over his numerous reports of illegal logging in his 3,000 acre plot, he had still maintained some hope that they would not ignore such an outrageous attack on his own person.
That confidence has now been shaken. How much longer can Sarawak continue to be run for the benefit of thieves and thugs and the ordinary people left to suffer under them?
The full interview can be accessed via podcast on www.radiofreesarawak.org.