The natives of Ulu Niah said they were living in constant fear after being terrorized by thugs purportedly hired by a plantation company to intimidate and threatened them since last Friday.
Pro-government daily The Borneo Post on Feb 20, portrayed the natives who were target of the aggression as the aggressors instead. It said the natives had seizing Niamas Istimewa tractors and illegally harvesting oil plam fruits belong to the company, which the natives strongly denied.
Changgai anak Dali, the chairman of Rh. Ranggong village security and development committee (JKKK) said that the news report was a blatant lie, biased and not telling the whole truth.
“We never seized any tractors nor threatened the company,” Changgai said, at a press conference in Miri on Monday.
“In fact it is the company that had sent gangsters, fully armed with machetes and explosives (see above pic) to intimidate and threatened our longhouse people.”
Changgai also dismissed notion that the nearly 100 people sent to the plantation last Friday were not thugs.
“If they were security personnel as reported by Borneo Post, why do they have to bring with them home-made explosives?” Changgai asked.
The longhouse folks also saddened by statement made by Inspector-general of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar who had instructed the State Commissioner of Police Datuk Mohamad Saleh to take actions against those.
“I heard about the news just now (yesterday) and I have instructed the state police to take appropriate actions against those who engaged tactics to exert fear in people,” the IGP quoted as saying by Borneo Post on Feb 21.
“This is because the action of exerting fear and threatening someone tantamounts to a criminal offence.”
According to Changgai, the daily also carried a misleading reports that they (through trustees) had signed an agreement of indemnity with the company for the equity of 30 percent in July 2009.
“The actual fact is we (Rumah Ranggong and Rumah Belili) signed a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) under the NCR initiatives with BLD (subsidiary of KTS), Sarawak Land Development Board (SLDB) on February 2001.
Changgai also alleged they had never been notified, nor aware that a deed had been signed by a Land Development Minister who declared their NCR land as state land, even though they were parties to the original joint-venture agreement.
“I came to know the fact, when I was sued by BLD for trespassing into their land last year,” he said. “All these while we thought it was ours not knowing a Minister had signed off our rights to the lands.”
Changgai said, the suit brought by BLD already started trial at Kuching High Court, but it won’t stop them from protecting their rights.
“It is a formed of intimidation against us the naive, illiterate natives to surrender our rights to our ancestral land,” he stressed.
Tawan Manggi of Rumah Belili when met on Saturday said they hope for peaceful resolution to the conflict.
“It has been very hard us, we have to always remain on guard as we don’t know when they will attack us again,” he said.
Rumah Ranggong and their neighbouring longhouse Rumah Belili since the thugs attacks had setup a regular patrol near their longhouse.
Last Friday, about 100 armed thugs camped at the outskirts of Rumah Ranggong in an attempt to intimidate and threaten the longhouse folks.
Their were subsequently dismantle after raid by police and the thugs leader was arrested and several home made explosives were also confiscated from them, according Miri Divisional police chief, as reported by media.