The 14 Kayan elders who have condemned the filing of a legal suit against the proposed Baram Dam seem more prepared to lose ancestral land and property worth several hundred million ringgit, “than monthly allowances ranging from RM450 to RM800".

Raymond Abin, regional coordinator of Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (Brimas) said this in a scathing comment on the community leaders’ opposition to the lawsuit.

azlanSix Kayan and Kenyah - Anyi Eng, Edward Jok Wan and Engan from Long Na’ah and Anyi Ajang, Malang Laeng and Wan Jok from Long Kesseh - filed the suit in Miri last Wednesday  against Abdul Taib Mahmud (left) and the Sarawak government.

They claimed that two plots of land covering 4,000 hectares - over which they have exerted native customary rights - will be affected by the RM4 billion Baram Dam.
Taib, who is chief minister, was named in his capacity as resource planning and environment minister.

However, Penghulu Ajang Wan, in a statement on behalf of the elders from Long Na’ah and Long Kesseh, said this is irresponsible and that action would be taken against the six for failing to obtain consent and approval before filing the suit.
“They have smeared the good name of our two kampung. We don’t want their actions to have a bad impact on us that may divide our people in dealing with mega-projects such as Baram Dam,” Ajang said. 

NONERaymond (left) countered that the 14 are merely out to please Taib. He claimed that some of them were not even community leaders, but were hoping to be appointed ‘ketua kaum’.
“Their condemnation of the suit confirms their true colours - they are cowards and scared to lose their allowances, but not their ancestral lands, rights and their adat(customs),” he said.
“It is against our culture to allow others dictate our life; it is not our culture to steal or rob others of their land.”

Raymond pointed out that Kayan culture allows anembiak (followers) to sue those who commit criminal acts, as stated in their adat, law and custom.
“Taib is not above the law, so people can sue him. The process of the law has to set a precedent," he noted.
Taib used the law to extinguish NCR (claims to) land. The people can also use the law to defend their rights. Let the court decide."

‘Betrayal of the community’
Expressing equally angry views, human rights lawyer and activist Abun Sui Anyit said the so-called community leaders have betrayed their ancestors “who fought for NCR land with blood and tears”.

NONE“They are not fit to be our community leaders because they speak on behalf of Taib or try to protect him, instead of protecting the rights of the Baram communities,” Abun said.

Harrison Ngau (left), the lawyer for the six litigants, said these so-called leaders will “bury themselves in the dustbin of history with their stupid statement in support of the Baram dam”.

Harrison added: “The BN lost badly in their longhouses during the last two (state and parliamentary) elections, so their support in their own longhouses is very nominal.

“This is the first case we are filing, and there will be at least two more cases. In this case, we are challenging the constitutionality of Section 5(3) and 5(4) of Sarawak Land Code.”

Source: Malaysiakini