Extracted from Malaysiakini
Iban ‘arsonists’ to sue logging firm
Seven Ibans who allegedly set alight more than 100 pieces of log
last week, are going to sue a timber company and its contractors for damages
and theft of logs from their communal forest.
Lawyer for the group, Dominique Ng, said that he was exploring all legal aspects to take Tasinimas Project Consultants Sdn Bhd and its contractors to court for damages and illegal logging in Pantu, Sri Aman,
Previously, the seven were under remand for seven days over the
alleged arson of the logs, which the group claimed were taken from Bait
Ili-Kempas Communal Forests which is subjected to native customary rights.
At a press conference today, Ng said that he had ample evidence to show that the logs in question belonged to the group’s village and that the logging company had obtained the logs illegally.
Showing photographs that had been taken from the site, he said the company had laid rail-road tracks into the communal forests, and were stopped by the natives when they tried to take the logs out.
A villager added that this was not the first time the company had attempted to take logs out of the communal forests.
The company tried to enter the area in June last year, but were barred from entering by the villagers.
According to Ng, the latest incident involved the loggers entering the forest from another direction, which has thus far prompted the villagers to lodge three police reports.
Village chief Rayang anak Ringkai said that the villagers discovered 118 logs in the area that were lying near the rail-road track inside the communal forest.
Rayang said when they were frustrated by the lack of response from
the authorities, they decided to burn some of the logs.
“We would not resort to burning all the logs, because we need the logs for ourselves for the repair of our own longhouse, as we have no other means to obtain our supply,” he said.
He said the company managed to salvage some of the logs when the group were under remand, adding that there were about 80 logs left.
The area being logged is swampy forests and the logs are of high commercial value as the species include ramin, alan batu, meranti, kepayang babi, nyato, rengkas, keruntum, jelutong and sepitir.