Not just Sarawak natives losing land


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.

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21 Oct 2010 3.55am

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.

Gerakan K
Gerakan K
17 Oct 2010 8.25pm

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 ???

semuanya OK kot
semuanya OK kot
17 Oct 2010 1.59pm

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.

17 Oct 2010 1.10pm

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… Read more »

tan, tanjong bungah
tan, tanjong bungah
17 Oct 2010 9.57am

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!!