Semaq Beri report to MTCC over logging plans in their area
Published: 10 July 2015
We were in Kampung Mengkapor, Pahang on Wednesday 8 July 2015 to gather further evidence from their oral tradition in preparation for the expert report to be submitted to the Kuantan High Court. This is in respect of their civil suit against several companies and the Pahang state government, among others, for encroachment into their traditional territories.
While there we could see pickup trucks entering the area with workers or supplies (the ones you would need if you plan to stay long in one place).
After our interviews and data-gathering, our team from COAC was shown parts of the customary territories by some community members. This is when we came across road construction activities which we believe to be for logging purposes.
We then met two Chinese men who informed us that they were contracted to do the logging road. Their pickup truck and 2 bulldozers were also spotted in the area.
We were informed by the road contractors that the actual logging was to be conducted in the forest close to, or on, the limestone hills in what is known as Hutan Simpan Kekal Berkelah.
When confronted by Fatimah, a member of the Orang Asal community there, the contractor contacted his supposed supervisor by phone. The latter alluded that the logging concession was owned by one Tengku Wong who was himself working for the Sultan.
The Semaq Beri however maintained that this was their traditional territory and that a civil suit was already in court to assert this status.
From the encounter with the road contractors, we learned that:
- There was no authorization for them to conduct their activities except by word of mouth by their superiors;
- There was no signboard or notice informing about their intended work;
- The Semaq Beri community was not consulted prior to this nor did the community give any permission to carry out the work.
As the area concerned was a permanent forest estate, a complaint was made to the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) on the grounds that Principles 2 & 3 of the MTCC's Criteria & Indicators were not complied with.
The limestone hills in the area are sacred places of the Semaq Beri as well sites of legends and early habitation. Some of their more revered ancestors were also buried there.
CN-COAC | 10 July 2015
Supplies coming in for a kongsi.
The road being constructed to reach the hills.
Contractor's heavy machinery at work.
The village's water supply will be severely affected by the road construction and logging activities.
Fatimah speaking to the 'Datuk' who supposedly has the licence to work here.