The villagers of Long Moh are united to stop Samling from logging their land after the destruction of their ancestral place of worship.
MIRI – The community of Long Moh, a village within Ulu Baram, drove Samling off their land on October 20th after it was discovered logging being conducted by the company was never sanctioned by the Forest Department Sarawak. This came to light when William Tingang from Long Moh spoke with a Forestry officer, who confirmed that no permit for the coupe in Long Moh was ever issued for logging.
The community responded with non-violent resistance. According to community member William Tingang, “We staged a peaceful protest, putting up banners along the entrance to their campsite. We want Samling to know that we are utterly upset with their action. We spoke to some of the workers, urging them to cease work and to immediately leave. Our peaceful approach worked as on the following day, one of the camps packed up and left. We will continue with this until all of them withdraw.”
According to the villagers, this is the fourth time Samling has committed the same offense. Prior to logging at Jekitan, on and around October 20th, Samling harvested timber from Bekia, harvesting much more than was permitted by the permit. The villagers discovered this illegal activity because their river was badly polluted and this flagged the trespass. Their prompt action managed to stop the incident from escalating.
How the go-ahead had been given when no proper permission had been obtained for that coupe. Long Moh is located within the Gerenai concession, a disputed concession in the Baram region that was granted by the Malaysian Timber Certification Council without the free, prior and informed consent of local communities.
According to a map from Land and Survey, Sarawak, several areas (including the ‘Temuda’) within Ulu Long Moh have been declared for ‘Shifting Agriculture’. In Bekia, Long Moh’s ancestors left numerous historical relics of their people. In the same location, one can also find exotic waterfalls and pristine rivers teeming with life. This landscape is of deep importance to the community.
“They failed to adhere to the procedure”, explains Tingang. “We don’t even know how big the area is that they are working on. Samling’s imprudent action will not only destroy our primary jungle but also will wipe out our history. An area which is considered to be sacred and holds our ancestors’ belongings has signs of trespassing and destruction.”
“The loggers don’t care about us. They are supposed to stay confined to the ‘coupe’ set by the Forest Department but the self-centred, greedy Samling seemed to be helping themselves,” explains Jalong Engan, also of Long Moh. “They seemed to bulldoze whatever was in sight. In early October, we met with an officer from Samling at the company’s parking lot, clearly stating that we forbade Samling from entering Jekitan but it seems to have fallen on deaf’s ears as they proceeded to work at these locations. We know our land rights and that what has happened is without our approval. They once told us that they have spoken with (Long Moh) villagers but how can they claim so when they haven’t even stepped on the balcony?”
The infuriated Jalong continued, “They earn billions from our jungle but we are the ones who have to live with the aftermath. We inherit polluted rivers, damaged lands and much more. We just want to preserve our land as our ancestors did.”
Long Moh is demanding compensation for the damage done at Bekia and wants Samling to take full responsibility for their actions. Another community member, Stanley Uking stated firmly, “We urged Samling to fulfill our demand. We are not selling our land but we want them to be responsible for their actions, destroying our land and jungle, and this is the penalty which they have to pay”. The community wants Samling (and other logging companies) to immediately cease work within Long Moh.
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William Tingang is the leader in opposing logging at Long Moh. For further information, please contact him at 010 879 9605.