Malaysian company destroying cocoa blocks and evicting landholders in East New Britain
A Malaysian owned group of companies is destroying a large number of smallholder cocoa blocks and forcibly evicting families using armed police on the Gazelle peninsula in East New Britain, says a local observer.
Tzen Niugini, Tzen Plantations and East New Britain Palm Oil are a group of companies controlled by Chinese Malaysians Ronnie Hai Liang Lim and Lea Ping Ong. The companies are all involved in the Kairak Oil Palm project.
The oil palm area covers customary land, State land, previously part of the Keravat forest area, and Land Settlement Scheme blocks. Although some customary landowners are said to support the new project it is believed at least two of five local groups have not given their informed consent.
Many of the cocoa block holders who have been forcibly evicted, have been receiving grants from the World Bank under its $50 million Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP) which was designed to revive the cocoa industry.
It is alleged the Malaysian companies have no land titles and no environmental permit, but authorities are ignoring their actions.
Ping and Liang are also the owners of the Malaysian registered company Tzen Plantations Sdn. Bhd.
According to the SABL Commission of Inquiry there is a 23,073 ha lease over Portions 908C and 909C issued by the Department of Lands to ‘Kairak Development Corporation’ for an oil palm plantation.