SEBUYAU: The ongoing dispute between the Ibans of six longhouses in the Sebangan/Sebuyau area and Quality Concrete Holdings Sdn Bhd has stretched to the river with natives trying to stop a tongkang from loading thousands of tonnes of logs extracted from their native customary rights (NCR) land.The Ibans had earlier mounted a blockade on land to stop the company from getting timbers from their communal forests.

For four consecutive days and nights the blockade had prevented timber workers, their six bulldozers and other heavy machinery from proceeding to takeway logs from their NCR land.Numpang Anak Suntai, leader of the Ibans from the six longhouses, told FMT that they are prepared to go to jail to defend their rights.“We are prepared for any eventuality and even prepared to go to jail to defend our rights over the land.“We have to take the law into our hands such as mounting the blockade as peaceful negotiations have failed.“Although we do not use any weapon to defend our rights, we use ourselves as part of the blockade,” Numpang said, pointing out that they have made their complaints to the police, to the District and Resident Offices and the Land and Survey Department as well as to the Forest Department. “No one listens to us as they are scared of the Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud whose sister is alleged to be one of the directors of the Quality Concrete Holdings,” he said.

Numpang hoped that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will intervene.
Numpang said three ‘intelligence officers’ from the Ministry of Defence had collected information which they said would be forwarded to the Prime Minister's Department.“I hope that the slogan ‘people first, performance now’ can be applied in our case,” he said.The 3,305 hectares of forests between Sungai Sebangan and Sungai Sebuyau have been confirmed by the Lands and Surveys to be NCR land.But the Forest Department which refused to acknowledge the people’s NCR rights gave the Quality Concrete Holdings a licence to log timber from the forest reportedly to be the home of the best rainforest trees and rare animals such as proboscis monkeys (orang belanda), flying squirrels and deer.It is also the source of drinking water for people who live around the area.