Archive for the ‘PROJECT WOMEN EMPOWERMENT TREES’ Category

Happy Holidays!!

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.

__

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

Rosli takes a turn for the better

A story on MESCOT/KOPEL’s Rosli Jukrana in national newspaper The Star.  

 

KOTA KINABALU: Leading seven community-based conservation and eco-tourism projects, Rosli Jukrana has come a long way from the days he used to illegally fell timber.

As the executive manager of Koperasi Pelancongan Mukim Batu Putih (Kopel) Berhad, Rosli is today busy overseeing lake and forest restoration projects and running an eco-camp and homestays at four villages in the Lower Kinabatangan region, on Sabah’s east coast.

Kopel Berhad runs the Model Ecologically Sustainable Community Conservation and Tourism (Mescot) project that is working to restore a lowland rainforest and has successfully constructed a zero waste and near-zero emissions eco camp, in addition to award winning homestay, cultural and wildlife tourism programmes.

Honoured: Zainie presenting the award to Rosli (right). Looking on is Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu president Lawrence Thien (left).

 

Recently, the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu presented Rosli an award in recognition of his leadership which now sees him extending knowledge and experience in conservation and sustainable tourism to other communities in the state.

Rotary International District Governor Zainie Abdul Aucasa presented RM1,000, a plaque and a certificate to Rosli, 43, at a dinner where Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu president Lawrence Thien.

Rosli who was accompanied by wife Maria Isa and daughter Siti Dzulaika, said he was humbled by the club’s decision to present him with the award and viewed it as an honour for Mescot andKopel.

“I dedicate this award to the Mescot team and Kopel co-operative members who have shown strong support for conservation and tourism projects in Batu Putih for the last 14 years.

“This award is recognition of the hard work that everyone has put in making both Mescot and Kopel a success. I dedicate this award to the four villages in the Batu Putih area and I am confident that this will motivate us to do work harder in conservation efforts and develop sustainable eco-tourism as a source of income,” he said.

Rosli said there was a time when he was forced to fell timber illegally as that was the only source of income in order for him to support his family.

“Things have changed for us with the introduction of conservation and eco-tourism products which now allow me and fellow villagers to earn a sustainable income,” the father of four said.

Going green: Rosli conducting a survey for a forest restoration project in the Kinabatangan area of Sabah’s east coast.

Rising through the ranks to become executive manager, Rosli is central to the development of Kopel as one of the top 17 co-operatives in Malaysia, and the only one in Sabah.

Reacting to the award, Malaysia Co-operative Commission Sabah director Saiful Bahri Omar said he was pleased that the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu had recognised the leader of a community based co-operative.

“We are very happy to learn of this award. Kopel continues to adhere to rules and regulations, and has become a model for other co-operatives in the nation.

“Co-operatives increase the socio-economic status of members who get income via homestays and other services,” Saiful said, adding that there were 803 co-operatives in Sabah.

Meanwhile, Land Empowerment Animals People (Leap) which has partnered with the community since 2005, described Rosli as a dedicated and committed leader.

Leap executive director Cynthia Ong said Rosli and his team report illegal logging to the Sabah Forestry Department, and that the area has seen a decline in such activities due to presence of a community that truly cares about conservation.

“Collectively, Mescot programmes have turned the tide of ecologically destructive practices and economic disempowerment among villagers, and put them on a track of both ecological and economic self-sufficiency, paving the way for other rural communities in Sabah and the region,” Ong said.

Forever Sabah Workshop Gathers Over 50 Stakeholders

Forever Sabah – a concept that is in the process of development to transition Sabah towards a diversified green economy – was deliberated on at a day long workshop on 14thOctober, 2011. The workshop initiated and facilitated by Land Empowerment Animals People (LEAP), was held at the Sabah Forestry Department headquarters in Sandakan.

Some points for Open Space Technology

Using Open Space Technology (OST), participants made up of diverse backgrounds – leaders from indigenous community groups from all corners of Sabah, heads and officers of key government organisations, business and industry players, researchers and civil society  – raised issues that later became discussion points. Eight key topics that participants focused their thoughts on were community involvement, natural resource management, green economy, land rights, synergy, the proposed Sabah Environmental Policy, enforcement and converging Forever Sabah with the national Economic Transformation Programme (ETP).

Sabah Forestry Department deputy director (Forest Sector Planning)

Attendance by diverse group of people / organisations / companies

Earlier, in kicking off the workshop, Sabah Forestry Department deputy director (Forest Sector Planning) Mr Fred Kugan, shared that the Department was supportive of initiatives like Forever Sabah, given the fact that half of the State is still under some form of forest cover. His remarks were followed by LEAP executive director Cynthia Ong sharing with participants the idea behind Forever Sabah, citing examples from several nations including Costa Rica, Bhutan, British Columbia and Mexico. She also presented the vision behind Forever Sabah as stated in a draft concept paper that was prepared by Borneo Rhino Alliance executive director Datuk Dr Junaidi Payne following a brainstorming workshop with several stakeholders in June. LEAP manager for Communications and Public Relations, Jaswinder Kler, briefed participants about the national Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), highlighting some key projects for Sabah. As the economic driver that will transform Malaysia into a high-income nation by 2020, it is crucial to understand the direction that the nation is taking with the ETP, and to recognise both opportunities and constraints that come with the initiative.

Topics for discussions

Group discussion

More photos can be found on our LEAP Facebook page :

Giving Back Through Trees

Last year in August, we flew half way across the world from Borneo to the United States last year for an all-important strategic plan meeting to set the pace for LEAP’s ever expanding work. We came back from New York all fired up and ready to move on to the next phase – but then it hit us. Our air travel had cost the environment, and we had to give back. After several rounds of calculations on our carbon footprint, we decided to plant 70 trees at a watershed in Pitas, close to Kampung Liu where we are supporting the Project Women Empowerment Trees (PWET) programme.

Cynthia, Sue, Sylvia, Neville, Jacquie and Ben were joined by friends from PWET in planting the indigenous tree species, donated by the Sabah Forestry Department. We truly enjoyed the experience and we are proud to report that almost a year later, the trees we planted are doing well. It is LEAP’s hope that other organisations do the same to offset carbon emissions from their travels!