Sebangan is located in the State of Sarawak, Malaysia.

Numpang Suntai and 14 others, representing 276 Iban families from the 15 longhouse communities of Kampung Entanggor, Ensika, Lumut, Arus Dayak, Tongkah Dayak, Tongkah Dayak Lubuk Manta, Tongkah Dayak Atas, Tongkah Dayak Rumah Panjai, Lunying, Belimbing Besi, Ketimbong and Bajong Ili, Bajong Ili Atas, Bajong Ili Tengah, Bajong Ili Baruh, all situated at Sebangan, Simunjan, Sarawak, filed their civil suit at the Kuching High Court on November 1st, 2010.

This case was heard at Kuching High Court on August 8th though August 19th 2011. This civil court proceeding is far from over. It is to continue on November 8th through 11th, 2011 and will reconvene again on December 19 through December 23rd, 2011.

Named as defendants in the civil suit are Quality Concrete Sdn Bhd the timber concession holder, Loyal Billion Sdn Bhd the logging contractor, 2 government appointed community leaders Penghulu Merum anak Babu and Ketua Kampung Agu anak Kaleng, together with the Director of Foresty and the Sarawak State Government.

The Sebuyau and Sebangan Ibans still need your moral and financial support to fight against illegal loggers. Your contributions will pay for the legal expenses and the cost of transportation, lodging, and food for Sebangan villagers who will be attending the proceedings in Kuching.

We desperately need your support to save our NCR heritages and our prestine environment from further destruction. If we lost this case, we will lost our land and forest to timber tycoons and oil palm plantation owners. Losing this case is losing our life line, our means of survival. Without our land and forests, we the Dayaks, the natives of Borneo, we have nothing.

In the USA please e-mail for postal address and other information. Or you can use Pay Pal by clicking Donate and you can use any credit cards to donate on-line. Thank you for you donations and support.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Another leaf turns in NCR land case saga

February 26, 2011
Taken from Hornbill Unleash
Keruah Usit

The ongoing native land case has taken another turn with one of those sued naming the lawyer responsible for preparing and witnessing a so-called “Deed of Settlement and Undertaking” between the claimants and the contractor.

The legal battle is between logging contractor Loyal Billion, representing timber licensee Quality Concrete and co-defendant Penghulu Merum Babu in the heated Native Customary Rights (NCR) land case. Loyal Billion named the counsel as Arthur Lee Cheng Chuan.

The ‘deed’, dated last Aug 30, states that local Iban NCR landowners had sold off their land rights for only RM250 per family. Iban villagers from 15 longhouses have denied knowledge of this ‘deed’.

They had lodged 23 police reports on Feb 19, claiming fraud, misrepresentation and cheating in the signing of the Deed.

Another 37 villagers lodged similar police reports in Simunjan on Feb 23 and 24, with more expected when remote villagers reach downriver Simunjan.

These villagers have been blockading the timber access road against Loyal Billion, logging contractor for Quality Concrete Holdings, the holder of the logging licence. Quality Concrete’s significant shareholders include the Sarawak Chief Minister’s family members, his sister Raziah and cousin Hamed Sepawi, among others.

They have moved from the blockade in the hills to the courtroom, claiming the loggers had encroached on their ancestral land. They filed a suit last November in the Kuching High Court, naming Quality Concrete and Loyal Billion as defendants, as well as an Iban Penghulu Merum Babu, another Iban individual, and the Sarawak government.

The communities’ legal action followed unsuccessful appeals to the authorities to protect their land against the loggers.

Numpang Suntai, the lead plaintiff in the civil suit, was later charged with criminal intimidation of Loyal Billion, following the villagers’ blockade of the logging road.

The High Court had granted an interim injunction against the companies on Jan 27, restraining them from logging or working on the contested land.

“Publicity campaign” charge

Tang and Partners Advocates, the legal firm representing the first, second and third defendants – Quality Concrete, Loyal Billion and Penghulu Merum Babu respectively – first presented the contentious ‘Deed of Settlement’ as a court document on Feb 16, arguing the natives had willingly signed away their NCR land.

Loyal Billion director Lau Pong Hui and Pengulu Merum Babu in new affidavits on Feb 21 affirmed that, as advised by their lawyers, they “verily believe that the Deed of Settlement and Undertaking dated 30 August 2010… which was prepared by Mr Arthur Lee Cheng Chuan, an advocate of Messrs Arthur Lee Lin & Co Advocates, is good, proper, lawful and valid in law.”

They also “aver that Mr Arthur Lee Cheng Chuan was a witness to the signatures of the directors of the second Defendant and to the signature of Penghulu of Sungai Sebangan, i.e. Penghulu Merum Babu.”

In the same affidavits by Lau and Penghulu Merum, they argued that “the lodging of police reports by this handful…of 24 persons at this eleventh hour which received a great deal of and widespread media coverage is a publicity campaign to capitalise (on) the NCR issues before the upcoming state election.” Lau’s affidavit included news clipping of three local Chinese Newspapers.

Lau’s and Penghulu Merum’s insinuation of the police reports being a “publicity campaign” appears to have been directed at counsel for the plaintiffs, See Chee How of Messrs Baru Bian Advocates and Solicitors.

Both Baru Bian (right) and See are state PKR leaders, and have been practising as renowned NCR land rights lawyers for over a decade, regardless of any elections.

The villagers said that the first they had heard of the so-called Deed was when the defendants’ lawyer tendered the documents in court on Feb 16, the date when Numpang and the plaintiffs’ counsel were attending to the start of the ‘criminal intimidation’ trial at Simunjan, some two hours’ drive away from Kuching.

The villagers then lodged their police reports on Feb 19, as soon as they had discovered that they were supposed to have signed a deed that sold off their NCR land for only RM250 per family.

“The company’s affidavit claims the lawsuit was politically motivated,” said Numpang, lead plaintiff in the High Court suit.

“Let’s look at this logic. Let’s say you are a victim of cheating, misrepresentation and fraud, and you are supposed to have given up land rights inherited through generations for a measly RM250 per family.

“Does this mean you must not fight for your rights when there is an election around the corner? There is nothing for us to apologise in defending our rights.” concluded Numpang.

The Kuching High Court had set today, Feb 25 for filing of all affidavits, with final submissions by all parties on March 2 for the court’s final decision on March 4 whether the interim injunction will be extended until the conclusion of the NCR land case.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

‘Cheated into allowing logging on our land’

Hornbill UnleashedFebruary 21, 2011
‘Cheated into allowing logging on our land’
Keruah Usit

About 30 villagers who are defending their land rights against a logging company, Quality Concrete, substantially owned by Taib Mahmud’s sister Roziah @ Radziah Mahmud, their cousin Hamed Sepawi and the Mahmud’s brother-in-law and former Sarawak State Secretary Abdul Aziz Bin Husain, lodged police reports simultaneously at the Sungai Maong police station in Kuching this morning.

The reports were against cheating, misrepresentation and forged signatures on a “Deed of Settlement and Undertaking” purportedly allowing the logging company to enter and log in their land.

The villagers have a lawsuit pending against logging contractor Loyal Billion and timber licensee Quality Concrete, alleging that the companies had trespassed on the villagers’ ancestral Native Customary Rights (NCR) land.

The 15 Iban longhouse communities taking the action at The High Court in Kuching was also granted an interim injunction on January 26 against the logging company, restraining them from continuing logging and land clearing works and any other related activities within the area which the communities are claiming native customary rights (NCR).

Then two days before the inter-parte hearing of the injunction at the Kuching High Court on February 18, lawyer for the companies, Tang and Partners Advocates submitted documents to the court which indicated landowners had signed away their rights to the company to log in the villagers’ land.

Counsels for the villagers had been busy attending to the trial of Numpang charged with criminal intimidation at the Simunjan Magistrate Court on Feb 16, some two hours’ drive away from Kuching.

A “Deed of Settlement and Undertaking” dated 30 August 2010 and witnessed by another Kuching-based lawyer was made between “The Native Customary Rights Claimants” with almost 300 names and signatures from some 15 villages and the logging contractor Loyal Billion Sdn Bhd.

Penghulu Merum Ak Babu of Sebangan, the third defendant in the civil suit by the villagers, and represented by the companies’ legal firm of Tang and Partners Advocate in the civil suit, signed under the wording of “I the following person representing the stated office, hereby affix my hands and seals as common witness.”

Loyal Billion was signed by directors Tiang Ming Nguong and Lau Pong Hui.

No further claims

The key “settlement” involves the company paying each ‘pintu’ or household dwelling RM250 as the one-off “Ex-gratia Compensation” and the villagers “collectively and individually” agree to the extinguishment by compensation, of their NCR claims, thus allowing the company to extract all merchantable timber.

The villagers are then not allowed to make further claims against the company “for compensation or proprietary or personal rights the merchantable timber in the said area now or in the future.”

When lodging police reports, villagers acknowledged being given RM250 by the third defendant, Penghulu Merum Ak Babu but they were specifically meant as money for “saguhati Kampung” or compensation for damages done, and definitely not for selling of rights.

Villagers had lodged several police reports against the company for encroachment to no effect but when the company made a police report after company machineries were burnt, the lead plaintiff in the civil suit against the company, Numpang was arrested and detained together with 6 other villagers.

Numpang was then charged with criminal intimidation and trial was on Feb 16. Submission by Numpang’s counsels lead by Baru Bian (right), See Chee How and Desmond Koh was set for March 2, with decision expected on March 10.

The Kuching High Court is scheduled to deliver the judgement on February 22 whether to extend the interim injunction or not.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Taib’s sister incurs natives’ wrath

From Free Malaysia Today
By Joseph Tawie| February 20, 2011

Villagers lodge police report against logging company owned by Chief Minister Taib Mahmud's sister Raziah.

KUCHING: Twenty-four longhouse folk representing 14 longhouses and villages have lodged police reports against Quality Concrete Sdn Bhd and its contractor Loyal Billion Sdn Bhd at the Sungai Maong police station for alleged cheating.

The reports were lodged on behalf of some 200 villagers who claimed that they were cheated when they were coerced into signing the deed and undertaking to Loyal Billion. They claimed many of them are illiterate.

The deed and undertaking signed between Loyal Billion and the natives allowed the company to enter and log timber in the natives’ native customary rights (NCR) land and “pulau galau” (communal forests).

Each of the family was given RM250 upon signing the deed and undertaking.

The Quality Concrete company, which is owned by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s sister Raziah, is the licence holder to extract timber from 3,305 hectares of communal forests in the Sebangan/Sebuyau area and has given the contract to Loyal Billion to extract timber.

Last week at the Kuching High Court, the natives were granted an interim injunction against Quality Concrete, Loyal Billion, Penghulu Merum and Agu Anak Kaleng to stop them from entering the area.

‘Natives exploited’

Loyal Billion is, however, filing its defence against the injunction next week and has passed the deed and undertaking and other evidence to lawyers representing the natives, saying that it has obtained the rights to enter and log timber in the area.

“When we look through the deed and undertaking, it is obvious that the natives have been exploited and their ignorance of the law and their illiteracy were taken advantage of,” said Numpang Anak Suntai, spokesperson for the natives who was present at the police station.

“Some complained that they never signed the deed and undertaking, but others signed on their behalf,” said Numpang.

As they are illiterate, they thumb-printed the document.

In the deed and undertaking, the villagers lost everything including their rights to their land and their “pulau galau”, he said.

Realising that they have been cheated, the villagers then lodged police reports against Loyal Billion, he said.

Numpang called on the police to carry out an immediate investigation.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Show your support for Numpang Suntai at Simunjan Magistrate on Feb 16th.

My dearest friends and relatives, if you believe in justice and fairness, please come and full force to show your support for my brother, Numpang Suntai at Simunjan Magistrate Office on February 16th. My brother has been unfairly accused of "criminal intimation" because he tries to protect our NCR properties in Sebangan against powerful logging company.

You all know that my brother is a good man and has done nothing wrong. This kind of treatment got to stop! Please HELP me and my family against this balant ill treatment of my beloved brother.

If we do not stop this injustice and unfairness, who is going to do it for us but ourselves. We will never know how far they will go to take away your NCR heritage and your basic human rights for fair treatment and justice.

May god help us all! Thank you very much