By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Jan 29: The State Forestry Department today clarified that there has not been any infringement by any oil palm plantation into Gunung Mulu National Park.
According to a spokesman for the department, the said plantation is located outside Gunung Mulu National Park.
“However, if it happens that they encroached into the national park without permission of the controller in accordance to Section 26, National Parks and Nature Reserves, the person, if found guilty of an offence, shall be fined RM5,000 or imprisonment for one year or both.
“The penalty is under section 32 of the National Parks and Nature Reserves, 1998,” the spokesman told DayakDaily today.
He was responding to a recent joint letter written by Mulu natives to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, where they wanted a stop to the destruction of rainforests for oil palm plantations in the surrounding area of the Gunung Mulu National Park — a Unesco World Heritage site.
In the letter addressed to Abang Johari and copied to the Minister-in-charge of Resource Planning, the villagers from Bateu Bungan, Long Terawan and Kampung Melinau said they were deeply concerned about the destruction of their forest by oil palm companies.
The local natives alleged that the oil palm companies were destroying their rainforest and disregarding traditional land rights in the area adjacent to Gunung Mulu National Park. The villagers also blamed the companies for taking away their livelihood and failing to consult them.
Thus, they called for the protection and preservation of the rainforest in the surrounding area of the Unesco World Heritage site, claiming the area was a crucial part of their traditional land.
They claimed that the forests belonged to them and their children since time immemorial.
“We live in and highly depend on our beloved forest. We cannot accept it to be destroyed and transformed into a plantation. Rather than losing it, we want to protect the diversity of the surrounding of the Mulu World Heritage site in the Heart of Borneo (HoB). It should remain as an attraction for tourists and an important ecosystem for the whole world,” the letter read.
The local natives also claimed that they had not been consulted by the companies although they had been living there for generations.
The letter was signed by the local native leaders and copied to, among others: one of the oil palm company; director of Forestry Department; Mulu assemblyman Dato Gerawat Gala, Marudi District Office; Marudi police chief and the director of Land and Survey Department. — DayakDaily