Once again, the police (backed by local politicians) have moved to forcibly remove the blockades put up by indigenous Penan groups in Baram to attempt to discourage the loggers who have been laying illegal waste to some of the regions last remaining virgin forests and ‘protected’ Belian species.
That ‘enforcement’ happened this week, however thugs supportive of the loggers have been swaggering against and harassing the native protestors now for months. Meanwhile, nothing has been done about the police report over the illegal logging or complaints that a so-called licence issued to another of Sarawak’s tycoon enterprises has not fulfilled the necessary criteria of consultation and environmental impact.
It is, once again, a shocking indictment of the greed and corruption of those managing this state that such depredations can continue as the once magnificent tropical forests degrade into wastelands and a major flooding hazard.
Despite all the money that is being sucked out through this unsustainable resource grabbing the native people remain impoverished, uneducated, without healthcare and utterly marginalised as the struggle for registration for identity cards continues for the indigenous people of the state.
After all, the last thing the greedy tycoons and their political puppets in Sarawak want is for these communities to be able to vote out the assemblymen for these rotten boroughs who lend their support to the plunder from the people they are supposed to represent.
Those tycoons include the fabulously wealthy Hii family behind the Interhill Group and the fabulously wealthy Lau family behind the KTS / GT conglomerate who appear to have joined forces to set up GT Interhill, the company that claims it is now licensed to plunder in the Middle Baram area where they have clashed with Penan dwellers from Ba Abang.
Both families are amongst the handful of tycoon networks who have in a matter of decades destroyed one of the glories of the planet in Borneo, wiping out a landscape of valuable fauna and flora in just a few decades before much of it could even be known to science and contributing one of the top drivers to global warming – the destruction of tropical and peat forests.
Such has been the Hii and Lau familys’ contribution to mankind and their present to our maker. However, like obese bed-ridden gluttons, it is clear that these companies and their directors can never be satiated, exercise restraint or abide by the proper way of doing things.
If there are still living things that can be killed and turned to cash they desperately want to be the ones to do it.
They will push and grab and employ every device to force their way in to snatch from those indigenous folk who have so little with which to protect their lands.
In their pockets, the GPS government and political masters kept fed for decades by the same tycoon companies.
Sarawak Report has already reported on the shenanigans to replace Ba Abang’s headman by a combination of deception and deliberate divisions within a community easily tempted by paltry cash.
It is the Sarawak logging playbook and that matter will come to court with the supporters of the original headman of the village (who has held out against the logging by GT Interhill) represented by the PKR leader in the state, lawyer Roland Engan.
However, as a reconnaissance trip by the Swiss NGO BMF to the area has now established, nothing has been done about the outrageous logging meanwhile of the banned endangered Belian species in the same area that has been continuing thanks, say BMF, to clear complicity and assistance from the GT Interhill group who control the access and transportation into the remote area.
As scores of photographic evidence shows, the rare and valuable Belian trees have been chopped down and sawn into pieces on site in the jungle before being transported out by lorry – a sophisticated operation that local gangsters simply do not have the machinery and infrastructure to achieve.
All this has been, oh so coincidentally carrying on alongside the mass logging and removal of lorry loads of broad based virgin trees that the local people have fought so hard and long to protect – this in one of the few virgin areas yet to have been previously destroyed.
Issuing a statement today a representative of BMF told Sarawak Report:
The company GT [Interhill] is clearly and directly complicit in these illegal Belian logging activities.
Without the help of the company to drag the logs on the road side, there is no business to do with Belian. GT is directly involved and playing a key role in the illegal removal of these Belian trees.
So far, no statement has been issued by the family owned conglomerate despite weeks of protests by the community and the police report. Meanwhile, the logging is continuing to tear up the landscape now that the latest blockade has been removed.
A moratorium should be instantly implemented on this outrageous operation and a full investigation undertaken into the clear visual evidence of Belian raiding in the region and into the complaints that the requirement of their provisional license can not possibly have been met under the circumstances that prevail.
The full forces of the federal government must now investigate the copious evidence of corruption in this case, just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the logging of Sarawak.