Stop plantations within Murum Dam catchment

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The Peleiran-Murum Penan Affairs Committee has called on the government to revoke provisional leases to plantation firms at the Murum Dam catchment area.

Ramlie Bujang, the Pemupa spokesperson, is seated fourth from left - Photo credit: Pemupa

Miri: Jawatankuasa Hal Ehwal Penan Peleiran-Murum (the Peleiran-Murum Penan Affairs Committee or Pemupa) calls on the Sarawak state government to revoke all the provisional leases for plantations within the catchment area of the Murum hydropower dam project as a condition for the alienation of land prior to their relocation to the proposed resettlement areas of the Penan villages in Murum area.

Pemupa is shocked to learn that land leases for huge plantation projects granted to Shin Yang Forestry Sdn Bhd, which are largely located within the Murum catchment, have been approved by the Sarawak state government. Further, it is much disturbing to learn
that those areas that we proposed as resettlement area have been parceled out for oil palm plantations. We have found out that Shin Yang Company has started clearing and felling the forest for oil palm plantation in the Metalon River area without our consent.

The clearing of forests by the Shin Yang within the proposed Metalon resettlement area will adversely affect our livelihood in the near future.

Recently, Land Development Minister James Masing revealed that the government would alienate some 24,000 hectares of land in the upper Murum for us Penans. We are still unclear where this land is and how the government has came to a decision on the size of the area without consulting us.

Without first revoking the provisional leases for plantation projects in the Murum Dam catchment area and those leases affecting our proposed resettlement areas, this revelation would be just more lip service from the Minister.

Pemupa strongly urges the government to alienate land for the Penans even before the Murum Dam is completed. We have seen the failure and unfulfilled promises of the government to the people at the Bakun Asap-Koyan Resettlement Scheme: no land at all has been alienated to them.

With anxiety and grave concern among our community about the ongoing Murum Dam construction, we have made our stand very clear to the government from the very beginning that this is not the kind of development that we want. However, our voices have only fallen on deaf ears.

We have on many occasions rejected the government’s Resettlement Scheme plans and packages with plantation projects that displace us from our customary land. Hence, the government has entrusted us to decide our own resettlement area within our respective customary land territories. Accordingly, we have proposed and informed the governments about the locality of our proposed resettlement areas, which have large tracts of natural forests as below:

  1. Metalon River area in upper Peleiran, proposed by four villages: Long Singu, Long Luar, Long Tangau and Long Pelutan (Menapa);
  2. Upper Tegulang River area – as proposed by Long Wat village;
  3. Upper Malim-Danum area – as proposed by two villages, Long Malim and Long Umba.

The respective Penan villages have proposed these areas as their resettlement area because it is still rich with forest resources that we need for our daily livelihood. We want our forest in these areas to be preserved and free from any kinds of human development activities such as logging and large-scale plantations.

Once again, we call on the government and relevant authorities to revoke the provisional leases for plantations in the upper Murum area and immediately stop any plantation companies from continuing their plantation activities that further exploit forest in the area.

Ramlie Bujang is the spokesperson of Pemupa. Pemupa represents more than a thousand residents from six Penan villages – Long Singu, Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Pelutan (Menapa), Long Malim and Long Wat – as well as the Kenyah-Badeng of Long Umba who are directly affected by the Murum Dam project.

27 October 2010

First published on the Aliran website on 16 November 2010

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