2001伊班族(Iban)對Ladang Sawit Bintulu民都魯棕櫚油公司(Ladang Sawit Bintulu)和包括州政府在內的另4名被告提起告訴，訴求對他們的傳統領域行使權利。
長期關注砂勞越議題的瑞士布魯諾曼澤基金(Bruno Manser Fund)表示，該計畫疑雲滿布，並將其稱為「砂拉越貪腐之廊」。
Sarawak's natives have won two important court cases over native land issues, their attorney announced this morning in the Sarawak state capital of Kuching on the island of Borneo.
The cases had been filed by the natives against the government of Sarawak and an oil palm company that planned to establish an oil palm plantation on native lands.
In both cases, Judge Wong declared that the local communities have native customary rights over land unlawfully claimed as state land by the Sarawak State government.
In one of the cases, the Court declared that the customary practice of Malays must be given the force of law, which is a landmark decision.
The Iban plaintiffs had filed a suit in 2001 against the oil palm company Ladang Sawit Bintulu and four other defendants, including the state government, seeking a declaration of native customary rights over their land.
They claimed that the provisional lease issued in 1996 to oil palm company Ladang Sawit Bintulu Sdn Bhd had wrongly included their native customary land.
They argued that their native customary rights over the land had never been extinguished and therefore, the issuance of the provisional lease was illegal.
In granting the Iban plaintiffs their rights to the land, the court ruled that the provisional lease over the 1,214 hectare disputed area was null and void.
The court ordered the oil palm company to leave the disputed area, excise it from the lease and return it to the Ibans.
The ruling comes just two days after the Malaysian police destroyed the house of Iban leader Nor Nyawai and 24 other homes at the native village of Sungai Sekabai. This community had won a similar land rights litigation in 2001.
While the court rulings are victories for the native plaintiffs, in another sense the native peoples have lost their original cultural ways in the process of claiming land ownership and fighting to defend it in court.
"This principle of land stewardship is enshrined in the traditional law or adat, a concept that has moral, legal, and religious implications," Davis wrote.
Nevertheless, use of the courts to protect their land rights is essential now as more development is planned for native lands in Malaysian Borneo.
On January 11 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and China signed an agreement to carry out a controversial energy masterplan that involves the displacement of thousands of Borneo natives. According to the "Financial Times," the plan involves the construction of several mega-dams and mining of large coal deposits and is likely to require the relocation of some 608,000 natives who live in the Sarawak rainforest.
The Bruno Manser Fund says the project is being developed "under a cloud of secrecy" and calls it the "Sarawak Corridor of Corruption."
"Construction companies linked to the Chief Minister Mahmud's family interests will be among the main beneficiaries of the new energy development plans," the Swiss advocacy group said in a January 13 statement.