Sarawak - Malaysia
A shadow on Sarawak, landgrabbing in Malaysia
Landgrabbing of the indigenous territories has became a worldwide issue. But it is particularly strong in Malaysia, especially in the state of Sarawak, located on Borneo island.
The state of Sarawak joined the Malaysian federation in 1963, 5 years after the departure of the English settlers. It’s only after the promulgation of numerous laws protecting the rights of indigenous communities that the state of Sarawak joined the federation. According to the 1958 land code, the cultivation of wild lands confer a permanent right on it to the indigenous people. However, this code has been amended multiple times since the 1970’s, when the country entered an important industrialization campaign.
Numerous communities has been chased from their land. They benefit from the customary law on their lands but rarely have ownership titles to protect themselves from evictions. The government uses this vulnerability to issue exploitation licences on those lands to private companies, for palm oil plantations, precious trees exploitation or construction of hydro-electric dams. Nowadays, around 70% of Sarawak territory has been given to logging companies.
Story available on Hans Lucas.