MIRI: About 100 natives of Long Teran Kanan in Tinjar gathered at IOI Pelita Plantation Sdn Bhd’s estate to protest against a recent Federal Court’s dismissal of an application to appeal against a decision of the Court of Appeal (CA).
The decision, which dismissed the appeal by one Lah Anyie and three others, held that the natives have no native customary rights (NCR) over two provisional land leases issued to IOI Pelita for the development of an oil palm plantation.
IOI Pelita is a a joint venture (JV) between Peninsular Malaysian-based IOI Bhd and the Land Custody Deve-lopment Authority (LCDA), which holds two provisional leases namely Lot 3 and Lot 8, Dulit Land District.
Previously, the two leases were issued to Rinwood Pelita Plantation Sdn Bhd which later sold off its shares to IOI. According to SAVE Rivers president, Peter Kallang, previously Lah Anyie and the other three represented the community of Long Teran Kanan to legally claim NCR over the disputed area under the two provisional leases.
They won their legal action at Miri High Court but IOI Pelita appealed to the CA and succeeded in getting the decision of the High Court quashed.
The CA decided that the indigenous community of Long Teran Kanan had no NCR over the disputed area as it is within the Bok Tisam Protected Forest.
Furthermore, their claims that the land was given to them by the Bera-wans of Long Jegan was not valid by virtue of the land being a protected forest and there was no evidence that the Berawans having done so.
The one-day protest was launched by the villagers not only to register their displeasure but also to look at other possibilities to resolve the long-standing dispute and launch the next phase of their effort to regain their NCR land.
Besides the Long Teran Kanan folk, there were also others from various villages in Suai/Niah and Tinjar/Baram areas as well as Kuching at the rally, which started at 9am and ended at 4.30pm.
There were also members of the General Operations Force present.
However, the protest was peaceful and orderly. Present to give speeches at the event were human rights lawyers Harrison Ngau, Abun Sui Anyit and Rowland Engan.
Also present were Sarawak Dayak Iban Association secretary-general Nicolas Mujah, Sarawak Native Cus-tomary Rights Land Network president Romuald Siew and Baram Pro-tection Action Committee chairman Philip Jau.