Home > Corruption, Human rights, Land, Logging, oil palm, Papua New Guinea > Villagers secure victory over Malaysian land grabbers in Papua New Guinea

Villagers secure victory over Malaysian land grabbers in Papua New Guinea

The people of Collingwood Bay in Papua New Guinea have won back their land from Malaysian loggers and oil palm companies after a hard fought battle in which that received support from many groups and individuals both in PNG and overseas, including Oro Governor, Gary Juffa.

Collingwood Bay. Photo Eric Wakker RAN

Collingwood Bay. Photo Eric Wakker (RAN)

The National Court in Port Moresby has declared that two Special Agriculture and Business Leases covering 38,350 hectares of land are null and void and ordered the Sate to cancel the title deeds..

Spokesperson for the landowners, Lester Seri, said last night “the Village people got the news of the Court decision and are celebrating and shedding tears in jubilation”.

The leases were originally issued in July 2012 to two PNG registered companies, Sibu Management Limited and Wanigela Agro Industrial Limited. But in October 2012 Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK) a Malaysian oil palm company announced that, together with Malaysian investment company Batu Kawan, it had acquired the rights to the land  – via a third company, Collingwood Bay Plantations.

The two leases were issued by the Department if Lands despite a government moratorium on new SABLs and a Commission of Inquiry which was on-going at the time, as we revealed in 2012.

The Commission of Inquiry found more than 5 million hectares of land in PNG has been fraudulently leased using the SABL mechanism, but the government has failed to implement the Commission recommendations and revoke the unlawful leases.

Lester Seri says “while our people are celebrating they are mindful of the innocent families and other communities struggling thought the country with the same problem, particularly in Turubu, Pomio and elsewhere and in East Sepik, East New Britain and Oro Provinces. We are urging the government to take a firm and descisive decision in dealing with the CoI recommendations by cancelling all the illegal leases. Court cases are expensive and beyond the means of most village people”.

For Collingwood Bay the court has accepted that the customary landowners never gave their consent to their land being leased and that the lease applications contained serious flaws.

When the applications for the leases were made with the Department of Lands it was not revealed the land in question was customarily owned and the survey paln referred only to a small block of land that was acquired by an Anglican mission over 100 years earlier.

The legal victory will be a serious embarrassment for KLK, a member of the international Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Batu Kawan and the RSPO.

In April 2013  the Collingwood Bay landowners filed a formal complaint with the RSPO pointing out that KLK’s involvement in the leases breached RSPO policies but the Roundtable has not taken any action against KLK.

  1. Phillip Isu
    May 21, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Let Collingwood Bay case be a beacon of hope for those struggling with this disease called SABL in the country. If we stand in unity we can overcome these giant land grabbers. We now demand KLK to return the original Owners copies of the leases to Lands Department for cancellation within 14 days. Here is the email for the GM:ce.sin@klk.com.my. Petition him to return the original copies.

  2. Lester Seri
    May 21, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    In the 80’s, the Judge Tos Barnet COI into illegal logging in PNG established that there were still “robber barons in PNG” actively engaged in bribing and engaging in illegal logging and land deals causing inhuman hardship for innocent ordinary citizens and resource owners, right before the eyes of every Governments of PNG, and not one Prime Minister or a Government has taken a decisive decision to appropriately deal with those corrupt companies, individuals, MPs, PMs, and government officials to correct the situation, and unbelievably, it continues to this day. Our people continue to suffer in the hands of these corrupt foreign companies supported by the the Government and corrupt ‘middlemen’. Incomprehensible is, the Government so freely and willing breaks every law in the country to give away peoples land and resources to foreigners without their consent and even sits back and watches as the people scramble around to find ways to fund expensive court cases to get their land and resources returned back to them. In PNG we have a serious problem where, no government seriously cares for it people. As much as I dont want to believe it, the sad truth is, all those noble statements made about the sovereign rights of the nation and the people i the Constitution seem to mean nothing in practice today.

  3. May 22, 2014 at 8:36 am

    It will go down in history that the Collingwood Bay community will not allow trans national corporations to bully us.
    For 30 long years we fought to protect our land from land thieves especially our own government that facilitates land grabing.
    Forest dependent communities all over the world have suffered from at the hands of their own governments who protect investors in the “national interest” and continue to turn the blind eye to their legitimate citizens.
    We’ve shown the world again in our 5th successful battle that our enemies will walk away humiliated at the hands of simple village people. The TNCs can have money to pay to corrupt our politicians and government officials but we can put to use our social capital.
    We continue to show that our social capital of Lawyers, Doctors, Environment Scientists, Geologists, Petrochemical Engineers, Anthropogists, Agriculturalist, School Teachers, Policemen, Land Technician and Ardent Village Environments when combined are unbeatable.
    Not to mention we have a some of the worlds best Fraudsters who can defraud loggers and oil palm companies millions of dollars! If one cares about their money do not hesitate to contact us for the details of our fraudster!

  4. Lucas poloe
    November 1, 2014 at 6:57 am

    Juffa should now move to have himself reinstated in whatever way possible so he can have unscrupulous loggers packing from Oro and deported. Oro assembly was illegally constituted to have him removed. Arore and Gore have no legal standing for failing to attend 3 consecutive meetings. The momentum has been set in Oro for Png to rid the country of dirty foreign loggers. We must wake up as landowners and fight corrupt officials throughout the length and breath of this country
    Png is not a “banana republic”

  1. May 24, 2014 at 1:00 pm
  2. June 14, 2014 at 5:59 am
  3. June 19, 2014 at 5:44 am
  4. June 19, 2014 at 5:44 am
  5. June 19, 2014 at 5:45 am
  6. November 30, 2016 at 9:54 am
  7. April 19, 2018 at 6:53 am

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