Sg Arip blockade: 10 to be charged today

MUKAH: Ten people who were involved in the blockage at Sungai Arip here, will be charged in court today.

The accused had claimed that a company had encroached into their Native Customary Right (NCR) land with the purpose to set up a plantation.

Over 100 residents from longhouses in Sungai Arip gathered outside the Mukah Magistrate’s Court here, yesterday morning.

Those present, believed to be from Rumah Jimin, Rumah Baja, Rumah Kusau and other longhou-ses in Sungai Arip, Balingian, gathered by the roadside in front of the court near Padang Mesra MDDM Mukah, here, at about 9.30am.

Also seen arriving in court yesterday were the counsel for the accused Abun Sui Anyit, Ba’Kelalan State Assemblyman Baru Bian, Batu Lintang State Assemblyman See Chee How, Krian State Assemblyman Ali Biju and PKR members from outside Mukah.

The longhouse residents also conducted a ‘miring’ ceremony which was accompanyied by Iban traditional music.

When met at the event, Baru Bian said the accused were involved in the blockade on 25 October, 2016.

“They were arrested and initially remanded for seven days and later extended by six days. They will be charged in court tomorrow (today). We are here, coming from all over the state just to show our moral support, especially for the affected landowners in Sungai Arip,” he said.

He pointed that it was just one of such cases to occur in Sarawak thus far and he blamed the inappropriate land policy or concept, especially on NCR land, for contributing to the incident.

Baru called on the state government and state land commission to review the existing policy on NCR land which currently is very much based on Temudak and the Land Act 1958.

“Our ethnic groups have been here for over 100 years and the Land Act is inappropriate for the fact that it should not be based on Temudak only, but more than that,” he said.

“Land dispute has been the common cause for land blockade in the past. We are here not to champion this case but rather to show our deepest concerns for the people, especially the affected land owners,” he said.