Pesky 'Squatters'

Tradewinds Plantation Bhd has expressed its deep regrets over the arson incident on April 23, which affected its Sungai Tersak estate in Simunjan.

The company believes that such irresponsible and dangerous act was made in retaliation for the dismantling by Tradewinds of a makeshift crossing to access an intended plantation road.

This illegal crossing was set up by unknown individuals.

It is said that many parties have alleged that the land lots on the estate belong to the locals, and not to Tradewinds.

Nevertheless, this allegation of ownership has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal and is found to have no merit, says the company.

“The unlawful act of erecting the said illegal makeshift crossing has caused losses to Tradewinds, and (the crossing) is used to provide unlawful access for the purpose of theft of FFB (oil palm’s fresh fruit bunches) and to compromise the state of security in the estate.

“Only authorised Tradewinds personnel are allowed into the estate,” said the group in a press statement released yesterday, stressing that Tradewinds is the lawful owner of the estate and that there are no Native Customary Rights (NCR) land there.

Our comment

Taib’s sneering wealthy cousins were filmed expressing their disdain for the dispossessed native people of Sarawak, whom they dismissed as ‘squatters’.

The wealthy shareholders and directors of Tradewinds appear equally sanctimonious about their rights to take land from people who have lived there for thousands of years.  They got those super-trustworthy Appeal Court judges appointed by Najib to find in their favour after all.

Yet time and again native customary rights enshrined by the original constitution have been trampled on and dismissed by a state government that has sought to limit the legal meaning of those rights to snatch land and timber – usually selling concessions first through cronies and then on to major outfits like Tradewinds.

So, we suggest that if Tradewinds are so confident of their rights to this land and all the other pieces of territory that they have acquired all over Sarawak this company should step up and produce the chain of ownership for all of their leases, right back to the moment that they were alienated by the corrupt government of Taib Mahmud.

The details on those land grabs (conducted by the Land Custody and Development Corporation set up and controlled for decades by Taib Mahmud) were disgracefully kept secret. However, Sarawak Report has obtained several of those land records and guess what?

Tradewinds ended up as the eventual owners of at least one of the most disgraceful and corrupted secret landgrabs by Taib family members on record.  Nearly a thousand hectares of land in Sungai Retus was secretly sold to a newly minted company named Masretus for a nominal sum of half a million ringgit (if that was even paid) in Februaly 2009.

The owner just happened to be Taib’s own brother Ibrahim.

And guess what happened next?  Within just 6 weeks of that sale this Taib family member sold the whole lot on to Tradewinds for a whopping RM7.2 million.

None of the native people in the area had even been informed about alienation of the land or sale. However, doubtless Tradewinds directors are very happy to pompously opine about the legal right they have to all these lands also.

To hell with honesty, transparency and justice.

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