Suspend firms that hire thugs

Wrong to use gangsters to harass NCR land owners in land-dispute matters — Masing


James Masing

KUCHING: Plantation companies that are found to be engaging in any form of gangsterism should be suspended from operating.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing said this when commenting on recent reports of disputes between a plantation company and NCR land owners, which resulted in a head-on clash between the land owners and gangsters allegedly hired by the said company, resulting in one death.

The case has caught much attention because it was the second incident after the murder of PKR Miri branch secretary Bill Kayong on June 20 this year. Kayong, who had been helping NCR land owners in a land dispute with a plantation company, was gunned down at a traffic light.

“Sarawak must be very serious and strict about it and stop it once and for all. Or the problem of gangsterism in plantations will never end. It will go on and on,” Masing told The Borneo Post yesterday.

Saying it is not wrong for plantation companies to have their own auxiliary police, he, however, cautioned that these auxiliary police must be qualified security personnel, not gangsters.

“We can’t assume all auxiliary police of plantation companies are gangsters. But once it is certain that they are, then their licences must be revoked,” asserted Masing, who is also Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister.

At the same time, he advised land owners involved in land disputes not to take the law into their own hands but to settle them in court.

Meanwhile, PBDS Baru issued a statement yesterday condemning plantation owners for employing gangsters to deal with NCR land owners.

“We have observed from these cases of land disputes involving our Dayak people that the companies involved always resorted to hiring gangsters who intimidate, harass, assault and bully rural Dayak people.

“The recent trend shows the companies tend to hire Iban ‘gangsters’ so that in the event of a fight, it’s Dayaks who shall kill fellow Dayaks as a result.

“This should not be allowed to happen again. PBDS Baru urges all Dayak NGOs, Dayak-related NGOs, political parties, etc, to assist to overcome this problem. Why should Dayaks kill or fight fellow Dayaks? We should not be made a tool to fight our own fellow Dayaks!”

Referring to the recent case in Balingian, the party believed that plantation owners should take full responsibility for their actions in using unemployed and financially desperate Dayaks to settle land matters or disputes and encouraging gangsterism.

“The government should also be held responsible for all the permit leases (PLs) that it had issued to these so-called agro-development tycoons. The government must impose strict regulations to protect the rural Dayaks, instead of allowing them to be vulnerable and unsafe.

“The worst of it all, guns are being used as the ultimatum now instead of pitchforks and samurai swords. Is this the type of rural transformation concept which everyone is so hyped up about?” asked PBDS Baru.