See Chee How expresses his shock and disgust with Lihan Jok

By Hornbill Unleashed

See Chee How, a lawyer acting for Penans and indigenous communities in NCR land cases, today expressed his shock and disgust with Lihan Jok. See said Lihan, the Telang Usan State Assemblyman, did not tell the truth when he reportedly said that the Penans had agreed to dismantle blockades and to allow logging to resume in the timber concession areas.

See also called on the state government to take native customary rights land claims seriously, to salvage the state’s plummeting international reputation, in the interests of the state’s economic development, and to respect and uphold various court judgements that ruled in favour of Native Customary Rights (NCR) lands in Sarawak.

In a statement issued in a press conference in Kuching today, See said that he was present at the meeting between Lihan Jok and the Penan headmen, village representatives and villagers in Long Bangan last Tuesday (15 Sept 2009) and has first-hand knowledge of what had transpired during and after the meeting.

Video inside :-

Showing video clip footage at the press conference, See Chee How said that Lihan Jok had called for the meeting with the Penans at Long Bangan. Lihan arrived at the Penan settlement in a helicopter, with representatives from the Miri Resident’s Office and District Office. On a separate road convoy in support of Lihan Jok’s trip were logging company representatives, a Penghulu and one Ajeng Kau, former President of the Sarawak Penan Association.

“Hopeful that the State Assemblymen will convey the state government’s pledge to recognize their native customary land rights as they were notified, 16 village headmen and their representatives together with more than 200 Penan had gathered in Long Bangan with anticipation,” See said.

“The village headmen and their representatives presented community surveyed maps showing the 16 Penan communities’ native customary rights land boundaries, with a letter to be signed by Lihan Jok acknowledging their native customary rights. They wanted the State Assemblyman to sign his acknowledgement on the letter and the maps.”

The villages represented at the meeting were Long Win, Long Nen, Long Belok, Long Kerangan, Long Lutin, Long Lilim, Long Dilo, Ba Kabing, Long Liwe, Long Iman, Long Siang, Ba Selulung, Ba Marong, Long Lunyim Pelutan and Long Lateh.

“After hours of speeches and a break for discussion between the Penan headmen and village representatives with officers from the Resident Office, the headmen and village representatives had relaxed on their demands, saying that they only wanted Lihan Jok to give a written commitment to bring in the government’s surveyors to verify the NCR boundary maps presented by the 16 Penan communities. And Lihan Jok was allowed to state the time he needed to take such a single small step to show the state government’s commitment to recognize their native customary land rights,” said See.

“To the disappointment of the Penan village headmen, representatives and all those present in Long Bangan, Lihan Jok refused and rejected the good gestures of the Penan leaders, saying that he had no authority to commit on the Penan’s native customary land rights.”

“The village headmen and representatives of the 16 Penan settlements in the vicinity of Long Bungan present at the meeting therefore unanimously objected to the dismantling of the blockade, and this clearly angered Lihan Jok who then ended the meeting abruptly and stomped out with his entourage.”

The blockade in Long Bangan was dismantled the next day by the police, army personnel, government officials and logging company workers, completely without the people’s consent. This is in direct contradiction of what has been reported in the mainstream media.

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