KUCHING: A two-year land encroachment dispute between the villagers of Kampung Stenggang and Jugan in Bau with a plantation company near here reached boiling point on Labour Day when some 100 villagers protested at a site they claim to be their native customary rights (NCR) land.
The villagers have been embroiled in a bitter dispute with the company since February 8, 2010 following the issuance by the government of Provisional Leases (PL) over six parcels of land identified as Lots 410, 421, 422, 423, 424, Block 6 Stungkor Land District and Lot 3 of Block 7 Stungkor Land District totalling 1,419 hectares.
Barricades were erected to prevent company personnel from entering the alleged NCR land areas, which was seen as illegal intrusion by the villagers.
“The villagers are very angry that they were misled into believing that their withdrawal of the High Court summon would facilitate the perimeter survey work to demarcate their NCR land.
“A summon was filed with the High Court seeking revocation of the six PL and recognition of their NCR land. Sometimes in August 2010, the summon was withdrawn on the assurance of the Land and Survey Department that their claimed NCR land will be dealt with and resolved satisfactorily,” said spokesperson Boniface Willy Tumek to the press recently.
The PKR Mas Gading committee member added that protests were registered with Land and Survey Department shortly after the villagers were aware of issuance of the PL. The department officially acknowledged the villagers’ NCR land status in an official letter dated April 12, 2011.
The same letter also informed villagers that the plantation company would not be allowed to carry any development within the six PL until the villagers NCR is satisfactorily dissolved.
However on March 28 several people with heavy equipment entered the area to commence clearing works in defiance of Land and Survey Department’s instructions.
Boniface mentioned that villagers informed the Land and Survey Department via a letter dated April 12 of the intrusion for immediate action.
The non-action by the department then led to the protest on May 1.
“The villagers want the instructions contained in the Land and Survey Department’s letter dated April 12 last year to be enforced, if necessary by the police to prevent any untoward incidents.
“They are also demanding that the Land and Survey Department immediately carry out their promise to commence the perimeter survey of the villagers NCR within the six PL,” he highlighted.