Stars of BBC ‘Tribe’ show in conflict with logging company

September 25, 2007

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The Malaysian authorities have told timber giant Samling that the company will lose its 'certificate of sustainable management' unless it resolves its long-running conflict with the Penan, stars of tonight’s BBC television show ‘Tribe’. Without the certificate the company risks being unable to export wood to European and other countries.

‘The Penan have no rights to the forest’, said Samling executive James Ho in an interview recently broadcast on Swiss television.

For more than 20 years the nomadic Penan of Sarawak have blockaded roads to stop loggers destroying their forest home. Their blockades have been repeatedly destroyed by police. The latest blockade was mounted in August to prevent a Samling subcontractor from entering the forest. Police destroyed a blockade in another area in June, only to see the local Penan erect another in July.

Samling was awarded a certificate for ‘sustainable’ logging of the Penan’s land in 2005, sparking immediate protests by the tribe and Survival. The Penan of Long Benali community recently refused a ‘gift’ of water pipes from the company, whose logging activities have polluted their drinking water.

Survival’s director Stephen Corry said today, ‘For too long the Malaysian government has taken the side of the logging companies against the Penan, in contravention of its own laws. Let’s hope that its warning to Samling is serious and that no further logging takes place against the Penan’s wishes.’

Malaysian and international law states that the Penan have rights to their land, and must be consulted before logging takes place. Malaysia also voted in favour of the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples, approved by the General Assembly on 13 September.

If you would like to help the Penan:

Please write letters to the Malaysian Timber Certification Council and Samling to raise your concerns about logging on the Penan's land. You can also write to the Malaysian government – sample text and full contact details are available online

1. Please write a polite letter to the chief executive of the Malaysian Timber Certification Council, asking him to revoke the certification of Samling's Sela'an-Linau Forest Management Unit on Penan land:

Mr. Chew Lye Teng
Chief Executive Officer
Malaysian Timber Certification Council
19F, Level 19, Tower 1 Menara PGM
No. 8, Jalan Pudu Ulu, Cheras
56100 Kuala Lumpur
FAX: +60 3 9200 6008
[email protected]

2. Please write to Samling, asking them to recognise the Penan's right to their land and to stop logging Sarawak's last remaining primary forest:

Mr. Yaw Chee Ming
Chief Executive Officer
Wisma Samling Head Office
Lot 296, Jalan Temenggong Datuk Oyong Lawai Jau
98000 Miri, Sarawak
[email protected]

3. Finally, please wite to the Chief Minister of Sarawak asking that the Penan's right to their land be fully recognised and that no logging should take place on their land without their full, free and informed consent. Please also urge him not to allow the authorities or companies to use force against the Penan to gain access to their forest:

YAB Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud
Chief Minister of Sarawak
Office of the Chief Minister of Sarawak
22nd Floor, Wisma Bapa Malaysia Petra Jaya

Fax: + 60 82 442755