For the past couple of days, I have been going in and out of a global conference in Penang on forests, biodiversity, community rights and indigenous peoples organised by Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific.

The theme “Ecological equity: Sharing the stories, reclaiming our rights” couldn’t have been more timely. Listening to the heart-rending stories from indigenous representative and activists from places such as Philippines, Uganda and Bolivia, I realised that the indigenous groups in Sarawak who are struggling to protect their native customary rights land are not alone.

It seems to be a common pattern across the world that many indigenous communities – especially those living in forests – are being driven off their land, in many cases with meagre compensation. Corporations involved in mining, logging, plantations, agrofuel and biopiracy (the theft of genetic material in forests followed by attempts to ‘patent’ them) have been greedily eying native land.

It seems like rapacious corporate greed literally knows no boundaries. Increasingly, plantation firms are also targeting Africa. One Ugandan woman claimed that a Malaysian firm has been driving out indigenous communities from thousands of hectares of land there with minimal compensation.

Without their land, the native communities lose their sources of food and livelihood, their culture, indeed their very soul. No wonder many of the indigenous communities are now resisting: they are not about to give up their ancestral lands so easily.

The speakers at the conference also seemed highly cynical about all those ‘Sustainable Roundtable’ initiatives. They are seen as industry attempts to put on a cloak of legitimacy to their profit-driven business that often cares little about displaced communities and the trail of environmental destruction and misery left behind.

READ MORE:  The CCCC connection in Penang
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5 COMMENTS

  1. Gerakan K, you actually being naive? or was that really a poor attempt at sarcasm? Take a good look around, you’ll see a lot of this atrocity in this earth, not just Sarawak.

  2. Your statement:
    …………………………
    One Ugandan woman claimed that a Malaysian firm has been driving out indigenous communities from thousands of hectares of land there with minimal compensation
    …………………………

    How anyone do that ??? By brute force ??? Via black magic ??? Via hypnosis ???

    Where are the police and law ???

    Or this just a propaganda by the opposition to bad mouth the government ???

  3. The largest impact comes from bankrupting of small farmers – with “progressive” changes in agriculture and livestock requiring finance – and the steady industrialisation of food production that this facilitates. We end up with (a) poisonous, low-nutrition and expensive food (b) loss of food security.

  4. Human impact on OUR environment has been far reaching and consistent. When WE chop down trees and plants around our homes, we contribute to this impact. Or are we innocent to this destruction? The corporate companies are just practicing what WE do at our homes. They bought (own) those lands and their impression is they can do what they want with it.

    Corporations (are human beings too) are profit minded have no responsibility to the environment. Their environmental causes is just another public relation stint. Nothing more. It lines the pockets of some individuals and the “environment” is just a stepping stone.

    When the level of carbon dioxide increases not proportionately to the level of oxygen, then alarm bells will ring worldwide. Plant-life would be on the verge of extinction. People will start choking on toxic emissions (human creation again). Plants and forest would have easily have countered this effect but our sorry state of managing earth will ultimately bring to our own DESTRUCTION!

    Humans will eventually become extinct and then earth will heal itself, maybe in another billion years (just long enough for those billionaires who lined their pockets with the spoils of their destructive behaviour, to expire themselves) You see, they could afford to protect themselves with latest technological gadgets to prolong their lifespan but they forget the most crucial component; you need humans to make these things function.

    Human beings are not the MASTERS of the earth/world. We are just a small (minute) part of it. When we go against NATURE, we hasten our road to extinction. Earth will survive, we will not.

    This is not fiction. Just have read, the facts are out there. We are just not bothered about it…for now at least!

  5. Hi everyone,

    On paper the implementation of the land acquisition act from M’s reign onwards allows for compulsory acquisition of private land for specific use/need by the govt. seems OK. But, abuses of this specific use category see the transfer of such acquired land to cronies of UMNO and BN to enrich themselves when the acquired land prices then skyrocketed!!

    This daylight ‘robbery’ of private land, includes those of the Sarawak natives. It’s rather sad for the ‘legalisation’ of such acts to enrich the elitist in UMNO, BN and their cronies!!

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