Former GPS Government Official Gets Coal Mining Permit He Denied to Indigenous Landowners! EXCLUSIVE

The shameful discovery of a coal mining permit issued earlier this year to a recent salaried official in the GPS state government has sparked outrage among villages in Tutoh Baram where activists now plan to file a report from police.

The Tutoh Coal Deposit Project includes a huge 15,000 hectare site located in a remaining area of ​​protected forest around the environmentally sensitive source of the Tutoh River, an area already ravaged by logging.

Tutoh Coal Field initially offered in 2006

Tutoh Coal Field initially offered in 2006

The ex-official, Sudarsono Osman, whose family is from Java, was previously the director of the Land & Survey Department when the area was initially surveyed, according to maps and documents drawn up in 2006.

He then became permanent secretary of the Ministry of Resource Planning and Environment when an application for a license from the local population was rejected in 2017. A cooperative of members of the indigenous community in the area had applied for the license. to manage the mine, according to angry protesters in the area, but the ministry refused.

Documents seen by Sarawak Report indicate that the proposal was made following a meeting of local representatives from three of the five villages in the region which include the homelands of Berawan, Kayan and Dusun.

Members of the local community met to apply for the license

Members of the local community met to apply for the license

Subsequently, as Sarawak Report can now exclusively reveal, a license was issued on April 14 this year to another company, Nikmat Sumber Sdn Bhd, partly owned by none other than Sudarsono himself!

Activists in the region are now rallying the local population to inform them of the outrage:

“This man was until recently a senior salaried official in the GPS government directly involved in the surveying and licensing process for this same mine. It is very clear that he used his positions as director of the land and surveying department and then as permanent secretary of the natural resources department to first deny local populations the possibility of collecting resources on their own territory. , then to arrange for the license to be granted to himself instead with family members ”

railed Baram’s PKR news chief Dennis Along, who is one of many local activists considering taking the case to the police and the MACC for corrupt practice, given Sudarsono’s blatant manipulation of his public positions for personal gain.

The coal mine project could be worth hundreds of millions or even billions of ringgits to the local community. Yet, as protesters point out, if the mine is owned by outsiders using imported labor, which has so often been the practice in Sarawak, the local population may again receive nothing from their own resources. As one activist who does not wish to be named pointed out:

If the profits went to the community, it could transform the lives of everyone who lives here. However, once again we see how a GPS buddy seeks to steal wealth for himself through this seizure of resources. This man is not even from Sarawak and even less from the Baram community which has suffered the loss of its land, its trees, its cultivation rights and now this.

For the local population, the coal grab is just one more episode of the relentless grabbing of resources in the region.

It is common knowledge that another portion of the NCR’s land was appropriated for a nominal amount from the local Berawan tribe in the 1990s by the Taib family to form the so-called Royal Mulu Resort. The Taib family has also secured lucrative logging concessions on indigenous customary lands around the park itself.

Problems of the local community No problem!

Despite these concerns, it appears that the company Sudarsono is planning to bring in to mine the coal is not having any concerns. In a letter, Malaysian mining company Palmsphere reassured Sudarsono that it was convinced that although the anger “on local indigenous issues ” is to be expected as “Standard”, they are experienced in dealing with such issues and getting the job done:

We were made to understand that the potential mining areas of Sarawak are currently facing local community issues. We think this problem is normal [sic] in Sarawak regarding the local indigenous issues that we have already dealt with in Kalimantan in Indonesia despite the cultural and religious differences. Thus, we are confident that we are in a position to fully undertake and resolve the issues of the local natives amicably on the basis of the advice and guidelines consistent with the guidelines of the Sarawak State Government as a whole “[sic]

This despite the fact that so far none of the communities had been notified that a license had been issued for mining, nor had they been consulted about this project on their lands following the rejection of their own. proposal by the state government of GPS. .

Affected communities are historically GPS supporting longhouses in the upper Tutoh region near Mulu National Park. The region lies in the hotly contested Mulu headquarters (N 78) which has been targeted by the opposition PKR party in the upcoming state elections.

However, the rival PSB, funded by the interests of logging companies, is hoping to split the vote against GPS and the powers that be in Sarawak believe they can continue to control the natives they have exploited in so many ways.

According to records, Nikmat Sumber’s license was issued in the middle of the emergency lockdown period, just months after the company itself was incorporated in August 2020. The company registration describes it as a ” holding company “and contains only one thousand ringgits of shares and has not deposited any accounts.

The company is therefore without any mining experience or capacity and obviously Sudarsono has simply obtained the lucrative right to outsource the work.

The first two managing shareholders of Nikmat Sumber were Sudarsono Osman himself and his relative, Abang Khalid bin Abang Marzuki. Marzuki’s son is married to Sudarsano’s daughter and was also a director of the company Properties of Gegasan Abadi who scandalously sold the Merdeka Palace Hotel for an extremely expensive sum to FELDA.

A third director brought in a few months later just before the license was issued is Malaysian Chinese businessman Yong Hui Suk. Therefore, the project so far follows a familiar model for “klepto-enterprises” in Sarawak, where friendly officials work in tandem with commercial collaborators to exploit concessions.

Lucrative opportunity to outsource the exploitation of a large coal basin

Lucrative opportunity to outsource the exploitation of a large coal basin

Documents seen by Sarawak Report indicate that Sudarsono asked a large company to exploit his valuable concession when he obtained the license.

These include a letter of intent written personally to Sudarsono on July 29 by a potential subcontractor, Malaysian state-owned company Palmsphere (L) Berhad, thanking him for inquiring about their services and seeking the opportunity to exploit the license within the framework of a commercial partnership with itself.

Please can we be your subcontractor?  Sudarsono is clearly looking to take advantage of outsourcing the license to a company equipped to do the job.

Please can we be your subcontractor? Sudarsono is clearly looking to take advantage of outsourcing the license to a company equipped to do the job.

In the letter, Palmsphere Managing Director Amirul Bahman Rahim details his credentials as a large established mining company, active in Kalimantan since 2012.

He even claims to have dubiously exploited Indonesian land that had been leased from Malaysian government-owned Sime Darby, apparently not for mining but for plantation and oil palm purposes.

We have great interest and experiences with our partners such as mining excavation, ground logistics, jetty handling, barges and coal trading companies ” He further boasts, stating that the three existing Palmsphere coal fields in Indonesia contain deposits totaling some 400 million metric tons of coal (worth about $ 12 billion).

Bahman Rahim continues to see very promising opportunities for a similar mining operation in Sarawak, starting with the current proposed partnership with Sudasarno’s company, but with a view to other ventures.

The fact that for more than six months no mention was made to the local community of these plans to start digging for charcoal in their native lands, even though Sudarsono looked for subcontractors, provides the most recent indication. clearer possible that there have been no plans or efforts to engage them in consultations or even to consider how the local population could benefit from this potentially billion-dollar monster mining operation.

Palmsphere’s outrageous letter concludes by saying the company is willing to comply with any request from the Sarawak state government, making it clear that Palmsphere’s managing director is confident the former licensed official is in. Full collaboration with the GPS government in dealing with indigenous protests against mining on their lands or other potential problems.

Activists believe the plan will be to exclude the local population entirely from the operation:

“They will look for cheap foreign labor which will probably be badly treated and may well introduce disease into our region. They clearly hope to take all the profits for themselves. They can’t turn around now and somehow pretend that they had planned from the start to bring wealth, benefits and jobs to local communities after all.

said Dennis Along.

Coal mining causes devastating destruction of the environment, creating vast areas of dusty landscape in place of forests where hunting, fishing and resources are available to local people.

If there is no economic benefit to be gained from it, the future looks very bleak for the residents of N 78, unless the license is canceled and Mr. Sudarsano Osman is held accountable.

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