KUCHING: Villagers from three longhouses in Simunjan have put up a blockade to defend their native customary rights (NCR) land from alleged encroachment by oil palm plantation companies.
Some 93 families from Kampung Sekendu, Kampung Sungai Lingkau and Kampung Melanjuk started the blockade on Aug 18 to protect their farmland while awaiting their appeal against a High Court judgement to be heard.
The villagers, who are in dispute with the companies over some 5,000ha of NCR land, lost their case in the High Court last year but are appealing the decision to the Court of Appeal.
Sanabung Sampai, one of the affected villagers from Kampung Sungai Lingkau, said the land had been cultivated by their ancestors before independence.
“There are rubber trees, graves and old longhouse sites (tembawai) on the land. We want this matter to be highlighted so that it can be resolved quickly.
“We are waiting for our appeal to proceed in court but this could take a long time. If the companies want to negotiate a settlement, we are open to it but it must be fair to us,” he told reporters at Stampin PKR service centre here yesterday.
Five villagers from the three longhouses, accompanied by Sri Aman PKR committee member Nicholas Mujah, were present at the press conference.
Sanabung called on the companies to stop encroaching into the land claimed by the villagers until the matter was decided in the Court of Appeal.
“We also hope the court can hear the case as soon as possible because we depend on our NCR land to plant crops and look for food,” he said.
Tri Nyanau from Kampung Sekendu added that the villagers were prepared to continue the blockade until the dispute was settled.
“We don’t want compensation, we just want our land to be returned to us,” he said.