KUCHING: Residents of 26 villages surrounding the Sadong mountain range can now sleep soundly as the logging licence granted to a private company to cut down trees in their area has been revoked.
Tebedu assemblyman Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong announced the good news to a press conference during a break at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting yesterday morning, after he had met up with the minister in charge (Second Minister of Resource Planning and Environment) Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Sarawak Forest Department acting director Sapuan Ahmad.
“I have already had a discussion with them and they have given us the assurance that this is no more an issue. The licence will be revoked. The company did not ask for a timber licence actually but a logging licence to clear the trees to plant rubber.
“That is no more an issue, we want to assure the 26 villages that they can sleep soundly,” he said.
On how the private company had convinced the department to issue the permit in the first place, Manyin, who is also Infrastructure Development and Communications Minister, declined to speculate.
“The land definitely does not belong to a particular family or group. The lands belong to the people living there; some of them are NCR lands while others are communal. However, it is no longer an issue and we want to assure the people of that,” he said.
Last Sunday, about 1,000 residents from the 26 villages surrounding the mountain range located some 60 km from the city staged a peaceful protest at Kpg Taee.
They protested against the permit issuance, which was granted to a private company to extract timber at an area covering 474 ha of Mount Sadong, a Bukar Bidayuh heritage settlement site dating back to the Brooke era.
The mountain, which terrain registers at approximately 201m above sea level, is said to be known not only for its fruit trees including durians, but also a water catchment area particularly for the villages of Tarat, Kakeng, Jenan, Bantang, Lanchang, Taee, Baru and Bunga.
It is also home to a rich biodiversity with several protected species such as peacocks, hornbills and barking deers.