This weekend in Melikin police stood by and watched as a bulldozer destroyed the public bridge that had been built by the state to give access to the local people.
It was an act of revenge by loggers, who are angry that these people have been trying to protect their Native Customary Lands from being cleared by a company, United Teamtrade Sdn Bhd, that does not hold more than a provisional lease to come into the area.
So, why did the police stand by and do nothing?
Could it be because United Teamtrade is owned by two of Taib’s key Ministers, Awang Tengah (Second Minister for Planning) and Naroden Majais (Minister for ‘Entrepreneur Development’)?
If so, is this the state of anarchy and misrule that now exists in Sarawak, where ministers can hand themselves great areas of state or native land and then tear up public roads and bridges in revenge if the local people rightfully protest?
A crumbling regime or just that Taib can no longer hide his dirty secrets?
For weeks the situation in Melikin has become more and more tense and fraught as local people have faced threats by gangsters and suffered a series of police arrests in their attempts to prevent this incursion into their area.
Yet the BN State Government has done nothing. As the local YB, Snowden Lawan has put it, the situation is “too sensitive”!
In a normal country where the rule of law exists, a company like United Teamtrade could not expect to start logging until their provisional licence had been confirmed and all the conditions (including local objections) had been legally settled.
However, Sarawak is no longer a state ruled by law, because it is a state where police stand by and allow vandals to attack public property in broad daylight, because they dare not criticise a couple of corrupt ministers!
One of the problems is that as resources run out in Sarawak and the Chief Minister gets more frail by the day, junior ministers are grabbing at the last remaining timber areas, which are now in the most sensitive places where many people live.
Another problem is that whereas before people could be bullied and intimidated and the world would never hear about it, it is now possible for us to film, photograph and instantly report the outrages happening in Sarawak!
For both these reasons Awang Tengah and Naroden Majais should tell their company to stop bullying native people and wait for the courts to make their rulings.
They should also ask their lawyers to check on their their own corrupt conflicts of interest in this matter, which makes them vulnerable to criminal prosecutions in due course!
Sarawak Report has been following the dreadful experiences of the people of Melikin, which consists of nine main Kampongs, over the past weeks.
They came to Kuching to protest. They launched a legal case to protest. They finally blockaded the road to protest.
So how have United Treamtrade, which is corruptly owned by bully-boys Naroden Majais and Awang Tengah responded? By denouncing people to the police on unsubstantiated charges resulting in their arrest!
First five innocent men were detained in police jail, accused of all sorts of rubbish – charges dropped.
Then a few days later some poor village folks were rounded up and also thrown into jail (four women included) for blocking the loggers’ road.
But, it has of course been all far worse than this, because we have not even got around to describing the secret attacks by the gangsters employed by the loggers to intimidate the people.
Gangsters have been the agents of Taib’s regime and his rapacious loggers over the past 30 years, every bit as much as the police who turn a blind eye.
Our reporters on the ground say that police have been encamped outside the village for weeks, but have not acted to prevent this harassment by the thugs hired by loggers.
These gangsters have turned up at the longhouses waving swords and spears and threatening the lives of protestors. It has taken great determination and courage to resist the threats.
And according to the villagers United Teamtrade adopted further familiar tactics when passing their provisional licence for ‘approval’ by the community:
“when the notice was given out prior to May 2010″, explains one spokesman “the notice was written in English and placed at some obscure location, behind the door, where they did not see it and none of them know how to read English. The notice said, if they do not respond within 3 months period, that means the villagers had agreed to let the company use their land. Folk did not understand the notice and they did not know how to respond. If the notice was written in Bahasa Malaysia, at least some of them would be able to read and understand it. Therefore, folks at Danau Malikin were completely in the dark and unaware that their lands were being leased for the next 60 years to United Team Trade oil palm companies belonging to Awang Tengah and Narodeen Majais, until bulldozers and excavators start to arrive and bulldozed their lands and planted crops. Now, the company United Team Trade charges the villagers fees to pass through, to go to their farms, 5 ringgit for a motorcycle, car for 30 ringgit and 50 ringgit for pickup truck”
Right to peaceful protest
So why were the villagers then harassed for protesting this incursion into their lands and lives? They explained that one reason for blocking the road was to stop huge logging lorries pounding through their village endangering the lives of their children. The blockade was soon followed by illegal arrests without warrants, based on unsubstantiated claims that villagers had destroyed the bridge across the river:
“They were arrested in the middle of the night without arrest warrants and lead by Inspector Azlan”, explains our source. “The bridge was just a few yards away from the village and also the only mean of commuting to the outside world. Why would they destroy their only access to the main highway? At that time they had started a blockade to prevent heavy trucks passing through their villages for the safety of the young children playing along the village thoroughfare. To understand this, houses are built on both sides of the road and it would have been a peaceful playground for the young children had it not been for the trucks and other heavy duty vehicles that were passing through!”
PKR’s human rights lawyer and Assemblyman See Chee How came to the aid of the imprisoned village people when their own BN representative chose to do nothing to counter the company owned by his own colleagues.
He pointed out that there was no evidence behind the accusations and the five men were released. Yet, a few days later ten people, four of them women, were again thrown into police lock up for supporting the blockade of the road.
So, how ironic that just a week later the same police force should stand by and do NOTHING as they watch the loggers perform the same destructive act against the public bridge in broad daylight!
The real top criminals in this case, of course, are the corrupt politicians who have abused their power to get timber concessions. Why don’t the police investigate that?
Proof is in the pictures
Taib’s cronies need to improve their tactics if they want to keep getting away with these dreadful activities. Modern technology is catching up with them and proving what is going on each day that passes. For example, some of the recent arrests have been made on suspicion over the destruction of this Teamtrade building.
Teamtrade said that somehow the villagers had managed to collapse this big structure…. so who does the bulldozer still standing nearby belong to? Teamtrade of course!
United Teamtrade have a court case due against the villagers on 9th of September, protesting against these various forms of alleged ‘sabotage’.
Meanwhile they have blocked off the access to the villages, while the police camp outside. This is rough and abusive treatment on all fronts as the company embarks on the complete cheek of claiming that they are “the registered proprietor” of the land, for which they have merely achieved a provisional licence.
Time for Taib to wake up from his senile stupor and work out that his corrupted young puppies are grabbing too much from his people in their anxiety to make themselves rich before his outdated and oppressive regime is finally kicked out.
We send out the latest story at 7am Malaysia time