Sabah conflict, Malaysia


Oil palm is today the fastest growing monoculture in the tropics. Indonesia is the world's largest producer. The country has witnessed a massive conversion of customary (adat) land to oil palm (and fast-wood) plantations. Between 1967 and 2007, oil palm monocultures have increased about 50 times and the government is planning to expand the area under plantation.

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Basic Data
NameSabah conflict, Malaysia
ProvinceSabah state
SiteTongod region
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific CommoditiesPalm oil
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2004
Company Names or State EnterprisesHup Seng Consolidated Berhad from Malaysia
Asiatic Development Berhad from Malaysia
Tanjung Bahagia Sdn Bhd
Relevant government actorsDeputy Chief Minister of Land, Malaysia
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersSeveral local NGOs
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Orang Asal or Indigenous people of Malaysia
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Soil erosion, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusUnknown
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (undecided)
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.As of March 2012, the court case was still undecided. Recent data needed!
Sources and Materials

Sabah Land Ordinance, Sabah Land Acquisition Ordinance (1950), amended in 2009


WRM Bulletin N°86 (September 2004)
[click to view]


The Star, "Court dismisses companies’ appeal over Tongod NCR land claim"
[click to view]

New Sabah Times, "Federal Court allows Tongod villagers’ application of leave to appeal"
[click to view]

Media Links

Facebook page about the case with pictures
[click to view]

Other Documents

A plea by the Tongod villagers "Dont take away our customary land" from
[click to view]

Leaving the court-room
[click to view]

Watching the deliberation from a live feed outside the court room.
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorJ.-F. Gerber
Last update26/05/2014