Court ruling may prevent Malaysian loggingJune 2009
A court decision may make it possible for tribal people on the island of Borneo to stop companies from flattening their forests through logging and oil palm operations.
The Malaysian Federal Court ruled that the indigenous people of Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of Borneo, have rights to land they use for hunting, gathering and growing food. Previously the Sarawak state government did not recognize tribal people’s rights over their traditional land unless they could show they had grown crops there for many years.
The state government had consequently leased the land of the Penan people to logging and oil palm companies without consulting them. The destruction of the forests scares away the animals hunted by the Penan, pollutes the rivers and kills the fish. Many of the Penan people have therefore experienced difficulty in finding food.
The ruling should benefit the tribes of Sarawak, which have filed about 200 land rights cases that have become delayed in the court system.
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