Archive for the ‘GREEN SURF’ Category

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One Step Forward For Indigenous People in Land Tussle

Wearing black traditional outfits decked with colourful beads and brass belts, over 300 men, women and children gathered at the Kota Kinabalu Courts Complex on 24th November 2011 to listen to an argument appealing for the High Court to hear a land rights case.

A plea by the Tongod villagers "Dont take away our customary land"

The indigenous people, largely from the Kadazandusun group, arrived at a nearby city park at 7am, as a sign of solidarity for villagers in remote Tongod, a district in central Sabah.

Villager Darinsuk Pangiran Apan and four others are in a land tussle with private company Hap Seng Consolidated Berhad and four other parties – a matter that has dragged on all the way to Malaysia’s highest judiciary level – the Federal Court.

Cynthia Ong lending support to one of the villagers claiming native customary rights over land. Pictured here with Darinsuk Pangiran Apan.

Just before 9am, villagers marched silently to the High Court building, not bothered by curious looks from passers-by, minutes before the Federal Court sat to listen to their appeal.

Those who were unable to find a seat in the building watched a video of the proceedings – streamed live from a laptop to a large mobile screen.

Watching the deliberation from a live feed outside the court room.

Six hours later, the Federal Court allowed the appeal and remitted the case to the High Court. The nation’s highest court also ruled that the High Court should not have dismissed the villagers’ claim based on preliminary objection, and that the order of the High Court as affirmed by the Court of Appeal should be set aside.

The fight is not over.

Although the legal battle is still on, the Federal Court’s decision is viewed as a positive step in the need to continuously advocate the rights of indigenous people over land – a thorny issue in Sabah, and in many other places around the world.

More photos on our Facebook page.

Engaging All Quarters Crucial in Resolving Land Issues: LEAP

As part of an assessment of a local land rights programme, two independent evaluators met the Sabah Lands and Surveys Department to gather information on related issues, in particular claims for native customary rights (NCR).

The recent meeting saw Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) Executive Director Cynthia Ong and independent consultant Birgitte Feiring of Denmark, getting feedback from Department Director Datuk Osman Jamal and his Deputy (Land) Lee Chun Khiong on land ownership among natives, including the state’s current focus in issuing Communal Titles.

Ong and Feiring sought the meeting to get the Government’s perspective on land claims, a subject that remains controversial as individuals, communities and private entities continue to apply for land ownership.

“We visited several remote villages in Tenom, Keningau, Tongod and Ranau last week, and one of the main grouses raised by communities was their right to land ownership.

“To make a fair assessment of the situation, we followed up by speaking to lawyers, the media and to Government departments. We are glad that the Lands and Surveys Department was open to answering some of our queries,” she said in a statement issued today by LEAP.

Ong and Feiring spent 10 days until Oct 26 evaluating local NGO Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS) Trust’s Land Rights and Natural Resource Management programme.

The evaluation will provide the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) and the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) with an assessment on the impacts, results and effectiveness of activities carried out under the said programme.

Ong said it is important to continue engaging with all quarters in finding solutions to complicated issues, such as land ownership. She said some situations may require solutions that are based on unique characteristics of a certain area or community.

(From left) Independent consultant Birgitte Feiring and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) Executive Director Cynthia Ong in a discussion with Sabah Lands and Surveys Department Director Datuk Osman Jamal and his Deputy (Land) Lee Chun Khiong.
Independent consultant Birgitte Feiring (left) and Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP) Executive Director Cynthia Ong getting answers from Sabah Lands and Surveys Department Director Datuk Osman Jamal (right) on the issuance of titles to natives.

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In a related development, LEAP Executive Director Cynthia Ong and independent consultant Birgitte Feiring of Denmark took part in media dialogue with representatives from several local Sabah newspapers. The following is an article that appeared in the Daily Express, as a result of the Press meet.

Indigenous people and contemporary crises

Newspaper article written by our staff member June Rubis.

Indigenous people and contemporary crises - looking for solution. Daily Express 14th Nov 2011

Grist article features Sabah No Coal Campaign

Our CEO, Cynthia Ong, co-authored the article below with the global anti-coal gang. Our Sabah story is featured on first of twelve.

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Read more Down with coal!

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Il paradiso a rischio del Borneo malese

We think it roughly translates – Paradise at risk of Malaysian Borneo (blame ‘Google translate’ if that’s not the case)

One of our staff,  who was formerly an intern at LEAP, invited Bruno Picozzi – an Italian journalist to our office last month.  Bruno wrote an article for the Italian environmental newspaper La Terra about renewable energy options in Sabah.  He based it on Dan Kammen’s renewable energy report.

Il paradiso a rischio del Borneo malese

However it is in Italian.

So if there are any Italian speakers out there who could assist with the translation then we would be very grateful.

We tried with ‘Google translate’ but it came out all funny 🙂

Pdf version of the article: Il paradiso a rischio del Borneo malese

More messages from our friends for Green SURF

Message from June Rubis – Conservationist

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June Rubis is a conservationist with 10 years of experience in Malaysia, and Indonesian Borneo. She is from Sarawak, Malaysia.

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Message from Prof. Daniel Kammen – University of California, Berkeley

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Message from Prof. Daniel Kammen - University of California, Berkeley

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Daniel Kammen is the Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley and a climate advisor to the Obama administration. He is a coordinating lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, for their report, Climate Change 2007, assessing man-made global warming.

He was here in Sabah, Malaysia for the Green SURF’s Public Forum on Energy Options for Sabah, on 20 March, 2010.

On September 9, 2010, Kammen was appointed chief technical specialist for renewable energy and energy efficiency at the World Bank.