Ulu Ngemah landonwers protest against commercial planting in the area

SIBU: More than 500 landowners in Ulu Ngemah, Kanowit want Persatuan Penduduk Asal Ulu Ngemah to stop allowing a company from encroaching into the area, measuring 16,000ha in total.

Kanowit PKR chairman Thomas Laja told the media that he brought the matter to the attention of state Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Ministry in June, together with the land owners.

“We paid a courtesy call on the ministry’s assistant chief secretary Frederick John George and told him that the affected land owners are against the encroachment activity.

“He agreed with us that the activity should not proceed,” Laja said.

It was learned that members of the residents’ association, who made up 100 or 30% of land owners in Ulu Ngemah, had consented to lease their plots of land to the company for development.

This would allow the company to clear the land for timber and later develop the area for commercial planting of coconut and oil palm.

However, in doing so, the company would have to encroach into plots of land belonging to the other 70% owners.

The affected landowners formed another association called the Pang Junan People’s Association (PJPA), and five protem committees to protect their land from encroachment.

“About 200 members of the association met on June 23 at Rumah Kilat in Ngungun to oppose the encroachment activity. They were all totally against it,” Laja added.

Persatuan Penduduk Asal Ulu Ngemah secretary Kennedy Entili, when contacted, said the group would give their side of the story this weekend as he was currently away.