Miri – The recent vicious attack on Tuai Rumah Jambai Anak Jali by a group of men in Miri is one of a series of uncivilised acts against the Tuai Rumah and his villagers these last two years. The villagers want an immediate stop to this constant harassment and appeal to the government for the immediate return of their customary land which is at the centre of this dispute.
In the recent attack, while driving, Tuai Rumah Jambai Anak Jali was forced off the road by two cars and he was beaten and slashed with a samurai sword. One of the cars involved in intercepting Jambai belongs to Tung Huat Plantation Sdn. Bhd a company which has a land dispute case with this community of Rumah Jambai Anak Jati in Sungai Takelit. Jambai who was bruised and wounded, received treatment at the Miri General Hospital where his wounds on the forehead and forearm were being stitched.
Based on information from Jambai and members of his community, the attacks by gangsters on them started in December 2014, when Jambai’s car was being destroyed with a homemade Molotov cocktail. On the same month, the General Operation Force from the Police Department (PDRM) intervened to abruptly stop a Mering Ritual organised by the people of Rumah Jambai Anak Jali on their Native Customary Right Land which is under dispute. That involvement resulted in all the items considered by the indigenous Iban as sacred and used for the rituals being scattered and desecrated by the PDRM. Beside the three mentioned instances, the villagers alleged that methods used by the company in attacking included an attempted arson on Jambai’s house and purposely crashing cars on villagers met on the road.
The dispute over the land in Sungai Keluit was triggered by the Sarawak State Government’s issuance of the land under terms involving Provisional Lease to Tung Huat Plantation Sdn. Bhd. in 2006 for oil palm plantation. However, the Sungai Keluit community who have lived in the area since 1934, claims that the land being leased out to the company is within their communal boundary. The court case is still pending and awaiting the court of appeal hearing.
Meanwhile, Tuai Rumah Jambai requests for direct intervention from the Chief Minister of Sarawak, YAB Adenan Haji Satim to settle the dispute. “We request Chief Minnister Adenan for help in withdrawing the Provisional Lease given to Tung Huat Plantation Sdn. Bhd. and let us, the indigenous people, use our land which we inherited from our forefathers,” said the village headman, “if the government continue to side the big companies our land will all be gone and what are we going to live on?”