Wanton land clearing around Bakun, claims rep

Source: http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/1/9/nation/16480646&sec=nation

Tuesday January 9, 2007

Wanton land clearing around Bakun, claims rep

By STEPHEN THEN

MIRI: Forests and native customary land as far as 100km from the Bakun hydroelectric dam site in central Sarawak are being bulldozed and cleared for all kinds of commercial and agriculture development.

Alleging this, Kidurong state assemblyman Chiew Chin Sing said the land clearing was excessive.

This is a worrying development. It seems the state government is bent on opening up every area stretching from the RM6bil Bakun project site to Bintulu town, which is some 150km away, he said.

He claimed that the latest incident of land clearing took place last Thursday, involving a longhouse known as Rumah Nyawin along the Bakun-Bintulu road. He said the state Land and Survey Department bulldozed it, leaving more than 100 native people homeless.

Checking with department officials, he was told they had to bulldoze the longhouse as the residents there did not have land titles.

The entire Bakun-Bintulu stretch is being aggressively opened up for all kinds of commercial projects, from timber logging to oil palm plantations to agriculture projects, he told The Star.

Chiew, who is state DAP deputy chairman, said more than 300 uniformed workers from the department as well as the police and the army took part in demolishing Rumah Nyawin.

The residents had applied for NCR land title many times but their applications had been rejected. Now, they have lost everything, he added.

A check with the state Land and Survey Department confirmed that it has received directives to demolish Rumah Nyawin to pave the way for certain agencies to move in and start agricultural projects.