MIRI: A joint letter written by Mulu natives to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg wants a stop to the destruction of rainforests for oil palm plantations in the surrounding area of the Gunung Mulu National Park, a World Heritage site.
In the letter addressed to the Chief Minister and copied to the minister in charge of Resource Planning, the villagers from Bateu Bungan, Long Terawan and Kampung Melinau said that they were deeply concerned about the destruction of their forest by oil palm companies.
The oil palm companies are accused of destroying their rainforest and disregarding traditional land rights in the area adjacent to the Gunung Mulu National Park.
The villagers also blamed the companies for taking away their livelihood and failing to consult them.
They called for the protection and preservation of the rainforest in the surrounding area of the Unesco World Heritage site, claiming the area as the crucial part of their traditional land.
“We wish it will stay as our home, the home of our children and all the future generations. Since time immemorial until today, we live in and highly depend on our beloved forest. We cannot accept it to be destroyed and transformed into a plantation.
“Rather than losing it, we want to protect the diversity of the surrounding of the Mulu World Heritage site in the Heart of Borneo. It should remain as an attraction for tourists and important ecosystem for the whole world,” they stressed in the letter.
The Mulu natives also claimed that they had not been consulted by the companies although they had been living there for generations.
“We strongly oppose the plantation because it will not be good for us. We kindly ask for our native customary rights to be respected and to let us live in peace and in harmony with our forest,” said the letter.
The letter was thumb-printed by the headman of Bateu Bungan, TK Ukau Lupung and was signed by Willie Kajan (Long Terawan Action Committee)and copied to one of the oil palm company; Forestry Department director; Mulu assemblyman Datuk Gerawat Gala, who is also the State Legislative Assembly Deputy Speaker; Miri Resident; Marudi District Office; Suhakam Sarawak office; Marudi police chief; director of Sarawak Land and Survey Department; Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok and Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian, who is also the Works Minister.