MIRI: Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is urging the state government to be transparent in the issuance of timber licences and also stop the logging encroachment in Long Pilah, Baram.
Its president, S M Mohamed Idris, said the move was in line with the stance of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem of halting issuance of new logging licences in the state.
He said SAM expressed grave concern about the encroachment of illegal logging into NCR land in Long Pilah since March this year.
He said SAM was also supporting the Long Pilah Action Committee’s open letter to the chief minister to not only be transparent on the issuance of logging licence, but also halt illegal logging activities and drop the charge against Ajeng Jok, who was only protecting the rights of his community.
Mohamed Idris said there was a lack of information disclosure to the affected communities alleging that the lack of transparency had long plagued the timber industry in the state.
“The villagers are right to question the legality of the operations, regardless of whether the operations are sanctioned by a valid licence. After all, the Malaysian judiciary has ruled that the indigenous customary land rights are in fact property rights, unlike the documentary land title.
“Further, the legitimacy of such rights can only be determined through indigenous customs. Modern law is only relevant if the rights have been extinguished at any point in time,” he said.
His press statement was released yesterday to the media during a joint press conference with Ajeng Jok the chairman of Long Pilah Action Committee and the affected villagers, lawyer Abun Sui who is also PKR Belaga chairman and Jok Jau Evong the coordinator of Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) in Marudi.
Mohamed Idris urged the state government to introduce policy or legislative reforms in order to align them with such judicial findings as currently there is none in the state.