Fuel added to the fire


MIRI: When a sensitive issue about Sarawak is brought into the international limelight, the image and reputation of the whole state is on the line.

Last week, a documentary about the alleged forest clearing adjacent Mulu National Park in northern Sarawak was released in Europe.

The documentary premiered at the European Union (EU) office in Brussels.

StarMetro received an email and also pictures of the Brussels event from Swiss environmental activist group Bruno Manser Foundation (BMF).

The email claimed the documentary was released in Europe, starting in Brussels, and was made from actual video footage from the Mulu dispute.

“Our BMF team went to Mulu to enter the areas cleared for the 4,400ha oil palm plantation. We also spoke to the affected natives.

“All these footage and interviews were done in Mulu itself,” said the email.

BMF has brought a group of natives from Mulu National Park to Europe to stage public demonstrations. The demos are aimed at highlighting the plight of the Mulu natives against a big oil palm plantation project being developed adjacent to the national park.

Two Mulu Penan leaders, Ukau Lupung and Komeok Joe, are leading the delegation.

Another Mulu community activist – Willie Kajan from the Berawan ethnic group – is also there with a few other natives from the Kayan, Kenyah and Orang Ulu groups.

BMF is sponsoring the natives’ trip to Europe and claim they want to help the Mulu natives highlight their pleas to stop the expansion of the oil palm project in Mulu.

The natives staged a peaceful demonstration in London outside the Malaysian High Commission, and BMF plans to bring them to meet EU leaders in Brussels, and Unesco officials in Paris.

“We will then go to Geneva to bring the Mulu case to the International Union for Conservation of Nature,” said BMF.

On March 25, a pastor of a local church in Miri lodged a police report against the BMF activists for allegedly trespassing into Mulu and stirring up human blockades against an oil palm giant.

Pastor Lian Malang, who lives in Miri, lodged a police report against the NGO in Miri.

Malang is a native from the Kenyah ethnic group while the natives in Mulu are from the Penan, Berawan and Tering ethnicities.

Malang told StarMetro that he lodged the police report against the NGOs because they are causing trouble in the Mulu area.

Malang said he “represents the community leaders who want to see socio-economic development in Mulu”.

The protests by the Mulu Penans, Berawans and Terings began in early February. They staged human blockades to stop the plantation company workers from clearing the forest adjacent Mulu.

The company has been issued a licence by the Sarawak state authorities to clear some 4,400ha of forests to set up an oil palm estate.

Mulu National Park is a world heritage site that is home to

the largest cave systems on the planet.

Now that the Mulu dispute has been brought so openly into the foreign front, Sarawak state leaders must find an amicable solution that is acceptable to all disputing sides in Mulu.

Leaving the issue unresolved is not helping as the natives are bringing their fight overseas.

Fuel is being added into the fire.

This issue will hurt state and country unless it is resolved fast and properly to the satisfaction of all sides.

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