On the 18th Feb, 2011, 100 armed thugs camped at Rumah Ranggong, Sarawak with explosives & parangs, over a land dispute between the longhouse and an oil palm company. Now the villagers are being accused as the aggressors by the local press.
MIRI – Residents of Rumah Ranggong are disappointed with the news report from a local daily, the Borneo Post which portrayed them as the aggressors and are out to threaten the company, BLD Resources with the use of force.
On 20 February, the Sunday Post under the headline “Police finally move to diffuse standoff” was reported as saying that the longhouse residents were taking over the estate, illegally harvesting of (oil palm) fruits along the roadside and eventually seizing three tractors in order to harvest more fruits.
The report also stated that the longhouse residents allegedly threatened the workers of the company with bodily harm if the company continue to lodge police reports and because of that the report further state that the estate’s security personnel was inadequate and therefore are sending more men to beef up the security in the area.
Changgai anak Dali, the Chairman of the village security and development committee (JKKK) said that this report is a blatant lie.
“We never seized any tractors nor threatened the company,” said Changgai.
“It is the company that brought along gangsters fully armed with machetes and explosives to intimidate and threatened our longhouse people,” he said.
“Why should security personnel bring along with them home made explosives? Who is threatening whom here with force?” asked Changgai.
The report also lied when it said that the longhouse residents, through their trustees had signed an agreement of indemnity with the company for the equity of 30 percent in July 2009 when in actual fact the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between BLD, Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) and the native landowners of Rumah Ranggong and Rumah Belilie was signed in February 2001.
On 21 February, the Borneo Post under the headline “Police to take action over alleged threat” again spun the story to paint the picture that the residents of Rumah Ranggong are the aggressors by saying that several longhouse folk had allegedly threatened to use force against the company.
“We want to put the story right here,” said Changgai.
“In October 2008, a Deed of Rescission was signed between SLDB and BLD without our knowledge to rescind the JVA because the State Government made a mistake in declaring our land as under native customary right (NCR) and now it is State Land,” said Changgai.
“Because of this I was sued by BLD for trespassing in my own land and that triggered our land dispute where we filed a counter suit which is now undergoing trial at the Kuching High Court.”
“Last year we wrote a letter to BLD to demand our land back and also to settle our long overdue dividends from the project, but we received no response and that is when we decided to erect our blockade in January this year,” explained Changgai.
The neighbouring residents of Rumah Belilie also erected a blockade to protest against BLD.
Last Friday, about 100 armed gangsters went to the outskirts of Rumah Ranggong native customary land boundary and made camp there in an attempt to intimidate and threaten the longhouse residents. A gang leader was arrested by police while the rest were told to leave by the police.
For more information, please read:
1. Malaysia: Trial of Ibans from Rumah Ranggong started at Kuching High Court
2. Sarawak: Ulu Niah Natives Set Up Blockade Against Company For Not Keeping Promise
3. Sarawak: Ulu Niah Natives Erect Another Blockade Against Plantation Company
4. Thugs arrested after threatening longhouse folks [thestar.com.my]
5. Associations: All parties must learn from Niah standoff [thestar.com.my]
6. Near clashes between gangsters and natives [freemalaysiatoday.com]
7. Home-made bombs uncovered [thestar.com.my]