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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
Name of conflict:Sabah conflict, Malaysia
State or province:Sabah state
Location of conflict:Tongod 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 commodities:Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2004
Company names or state enterprises:Hup Seng Consolidated Berhad from Malaysia
Asiatic Development Berhad from Malaysia
Tanjung Bahagia Sdn Bhd
Relevant government actors:Deputy Chief Minister of Land, Malaysia
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Several local NGOs
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Orang Asal or Indigenous people of Malaysia
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Street protest/marches
Impacts of the project
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-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:As of March 2012, the court case was still undecided. Recent data needed!
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

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

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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
Contributor:J.-F. Gerber
Last update26/05/2014
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